AMSGNY Meetings

Abstracts for Spring Meeting

Harmonizing the Fantastical: The Familiar and Unfamiliar in Howard Shore’s
 The Lord of the Rings
Vincent Rone 

Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings film score features thematic material for numerous characters and places. Although authors have discoursed primarily on thematic and pitch relationships, I discuss the score’s harmony. Shore, I argue, tapped into 19th-century compositional traditions to distinguish Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves. Hobbits, the most relatable and “familiar” races, receive “familiar” harmony, tonality. The unfamiliar races of Elves and Dwarves, however, receive “unfamiliar” triadic harmony, third rotations and so-called “polytonality.” The latter techniques suggest 19th-century practices of signifying the fantastical in music, and Shore extends this tradition in scoring the races and the lands of Middle Earth.

Immersion into Fantasy: Compositional Techniques of Video Game Music from the Late 80s and Early 90s
Christopher Hopkins
The fictional worlds within video games are realized through music, audio cues, and visuals. The experience of playing out these fantasies is most compelling when the music aligns with the dynamic shifts in mood and tension caused by player actions.

The musical tracks composed for games on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the late 80s and early 90s establish trends and characteristics still associated with video game music. Audio limitations, visual content of games, and gameplay elements promote creativity in video game music composers. The diversity of sonorities and musical patterns within the scope of primitive sound chips is a result of technical ingenuity through collaborations of composers and sound programmers. The game soundtracks from the Sunsoft company during the late 80s are examples of such abilities, exhibiting properties like reverberation, simultaneous sounds, and repitched instrument samples. Such properties back then were technical feats, but today are easy to implement and expected by composers.

​The pursuit of the composer complements the player by creating a convincing and appropriate musical backdrop. This aids in the total immersion of the player in the game-generated world. 

The Tempest in Opera from the Eighteenth Century to Thomas Adès
William Germano
Operatically speaking, The Tempest is the most popular of all Shakespeare’s plays.  But why? This talk explores how composers made their way to Shakespeare’s island and what they found once they got there.

Shakespeare’s The Tempest:  Music, Structure, and Fantasy
Ren Draya
This paper traces the nine-scene structure of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and reveals a symmetry that parallels musical composition.   The play’s strong elements of fantasy are emphasized in the music and magical sounds of The Tempest:  I shall discuss individual songs, instrumental pieces, the sumptuous Act IV masque, and a range of dramatic “noises.”   The Tempest is a romance whose continued popularity is proven by its many productions and adaptations over the years.

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