This is a course about musical timbre, contrasting timbre, manipulating timbre, “effects” outside the recording studio, timbral weight, opacity, transparency, how it colors what you hear. Color only visible to the mind. (Where does timbre end and harmony begin anyway?) Writer, critic, guitarist, self-taught iconoclast and musical inventor, Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) seduced Parisian audiences away from the Apollonian Viennese classical era into full-on Romanticism—with a generous rush of real-life romance. A sound artist we might call him today. Many scorned the extramusical panache of his ‘Fantastic Symphony’ at the time but Berlioz’s innovative use of instrumentation changed the sound surface of European music forever. We will study the course namesake Symphonie Fantastique intently, connect it to the future it foreshadowed and to the past it exploded—but honored. We will also study and compare Berlioz’s orchestrational writings to later (and earlier) orchestration texts.
Corequisite: Occasional attendance at music workshop (T 6:30pm – 8:00pm)