Andrew Cote’s original music is now featured in season one of the podcast, Consolation Prize. The podcast is hosted by Abby Mullen who is a former colleague of Cote’s. In the past, the two have worked together to team-teach when Cote’s music composition students wrote music for Mullen’s history students, collaborating to create a podcast as a final project. This is the first time Cote himself has scored music for a podcast, “though it is similar to film writing for film, which I have done a handful of times” he says.
When asked what he found to be the biggest difference between composing music for a live performance and composing music for a podcast of this nature, Cote responded, “the biggest difference is the music I am composing is supposed to help tell the story, not be the entire story.” He also added that with podcasts there is the opportunity for editing. Another difference between podcasts and live performances is “you do lose a little of the adrenalin that comes from a live performance when you work in a studio environment,” Cote mentions. Though overall, he describes the process of writing for Consolation Prize as “a whole different type of rewarding experience.” Music plays an integral role in the overall production of podcasts in setting the mood, creating the tone, and creating a sense of unity between episodes. Cote, notes that though he was given artistic freedom in his composition, at times producers would give him “non-musical” cues such as wanting something to sound somber or dark. It then became Cote’s job to determine what that actually would sound like.
As someone who is well versed in music technology, music composition, and music theory, he still had things to learn. Cote describes his biggest takeaway, “[was] actually learning more about how music is understood by people who aren’t necessarily around music all the time. Having feedback from historians about how music sounds is fascinating,” and that “it is making me think completely different as a musician.”
Consolation Prize is a history podcast through the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. It focuses on the stories of U.S. consuls who were appointed to cities and towns all over the world to serve the interests of Americans abroad and report on trading. The first two episodes can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other major podcast distributors. Here at Merrimack, Cote currently teaches courses in music theory and music technology, and serves as the Assistant Director of the bands.