Monday, August 24, 2009

Chapter 2, musical qualities of the sound track, and Tilsit

The basic pedagogical strategy of HtM, ch. 2, is to promote a sense of the musicality of the sound track by introducing musical terms that can also be used to describe speech, sound effects, or the sound track as a whole. I have found that students absorb the comparisons well, especially with examples. I use the voice rather than music for this purpose, in part because non-music students usually find it intimidating to try to analyze aural musical examples. With my voice alone, I can easily demonstrate frequency, loudness, tempo, and other qualities -- even texture when I enlist the students' help.

Attempting analysis of the sound track on these terms can be a challenge, nevertheless, because of the number of terms and concepts introduced in the chapter. For this reason, I have distilled the terms down to four sets in what I call the TiLSiT model (for Time, Loudness, Sound qualities, and Texture):

time -- speed and temporal articulation (tempo/rhythm/meter)

loudness (volume)

sound qualities (timbre, pitch, orchestration)

texture (density, liveliness)

With this list in hand (literally), students can learn to analyze sound tracks for their musical qualities efficiently.

(TiLSIT as an acronym, on the other hand, turned out to be a bust. No one in two semesters has known the reference to the Prussian city (famous for a treaty signing during the Napoleonic wars) or to the cheese from the same region, and I was unable to get hold of any of the cheese to use as a tasty prop, either -- apparently it doesn't travel well and so is rarely sold in the US.)