Sound - Spring 2019
(Sound - Spring 2019)

The great philosopher Francis Bacon once called sound “one the subtlest piece of nature.” Four hundred years later, his description still rings true. Sound remains at once a supremely powerful and evocative phenomenon, and an elusive one. What is sound? How does it achieve its remarkable effects? What is the relationship between sound and music? In search of as expansive an understanding as possible, we will consider perspectives on sound from a wide range of disciplines. We will combine historical case studies—for example Hermann Helmholtz and the emergence of experimental acoustics, Schoenberg’s idea of Klangfarbenmelodie, and R. Murray Schafer’s project of “acoustic ecology”—and practical exercises in which we investigate and reflect on our own experiences of sound. This course is intended for advanced students. Weekly assignments will include intensive reading and listening; larger undertakings will include making field recordings, keeping a listening journal, and research and creative projects devised by students. Prerequisites: Music History I and II.