Today I’m grateful for guest lecturers!
We had a guest lecturer visit today and her talk was really interesting and insightful. She was discussing the ‘sound-box’, a device or concept that we can use to help us analyse physically ‘where’ the music is coming from when we listen to a track. For example, the singer may be in the centre, or perhaps you can hear a guitar riff coming prominently from the left. This is known as panning, and we can consider it, along with 3 other dimensions (frequency, depth and time), when analysing a track.
What was particularly interesting about her talk was her ability to combine music and visuals. You would probably expect that in a lecture entitled, ‘Visualising Music: The Sound-box’, but still, it was wonderful to see it articulated with such finesse. That isn’t a slur on the lecturers at my university, of course, but new approaches to subjects are always welcome. As someone who wants to be a teacher I find it fascinating to see how topics can be looked at from different perspectives and conveyed in different ways. It doesn’t matter how interesting the subject matter is – if it isn’t delivered in a way that sparks interest then it ceases to be beneficial for anyone.
She took us through two Queen tracks as case studies and showed us how the methodology was put into practise. In doing so, we were shown a physical sound-box (think 3D cube, or a room with a wall missing) and the instruments/voices were pictorially represented. So, if a guitar was playing from the right, a picture of a guitar appeared on the right. When it ceased to play, it disappeared. It was a real feat of synchronicity and got the idea across so well, stopping it being such an abstract concept.
This was just one element of her talk – she brought in other ideas, theories and methodologies from other musicologists. Guest lectures always take place on a Wednesday and I have no-contact time at uni on Wednesdays, so I had to make a special journey in. However, the whole lecture was really thought-provoking and I felt glad that I had taken time out of my day to attend. Hurrah for fresh perspectives and excellent teaching!