Always a popular draw at the Arizona Senior Academy, ethnomusicologist, documentary filmmaker, and percussionist Dan Kruse is an articulate and engaging speaker on all things musical. Whether the topic is the early history of rock ‘n’ roll, the versatility of the snare drum, or the very nature of music itself, his lively interactive presentations are both entertaining and insightful.
On Thursday (Oct. 20) at 3:30 p.m., he returns to discuss “The Shape of the Song,” the first in a two-lecture series examining musical structures.
How do you shape a song—or, for that matter, a sonata or a symphony? What is the “architecture” that holds it together and supports the composer’s intent? With audio and YouTube samples, Kruse will demonstrate how beats, measures, phrases, passages, and entire movements are among the essential building blocks, so to speak.
Elaborating on aesthetician Susan K. Langer’s observation that “music is time made audible,” he will also show how musical structure influences a listener’s perception of the present and the past in a composition and leads to expectations of what will happen in the future. The frustration or fulfillment of those expectations and the resulting tensions and releases are basic to most musical works.
Part 1 will focus on the twelve-bar blues and the AABA song forms heard in every tune from Tin Pan Alley to the Beatles. In Part 2, on Oct. 27, Kruse will delve into more complex musical structures such as the sonata and the symphony as well as the less familiar forms exhibited in Indonesian gamelan and West African music.
Note to Kruse’s radio fans: Although retired from NPR’s “All Things Considered,” he has a new television gig producing stories for “Arizona Illustrated” on Arizona Public Media. Check out “The UA’s Chimes and Echoes” and “Teaching Percussion,” which aired this summer.\
Written by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer