Daily Archives: September 12, 2015

The Gothic Track Assignment (HUM220/HUM303)

I haven’t worked out how to post a youtube video to ilearn forum yet. I’ll need to look into that on Monday. In the meantime here’s a model for what I’m now calling the Gothic Track assignment. The idea is that everyone posts and everyone evaluates. We’ll talk in class next week about the practicalities associated with all this.

“A Forest”

This track from The Cure’s 1980 album Seventeen Seconds is easily one of the band’s most famous songs. Its popularity may have something to do with with simplicity of the lyrics and the spareness of instrumentation, which allow room for an audience to use its imagination. At the lower end of the song the bass and keyboards maintain a dark, reverberating tone, which contrasts with Robert Smith’s vocals and jangly guitar. The overall effect– the atmosphere of the track– is mysterious, compulsive, and, apparently, doomed. In the final moments of the song the bass evokes the heartbeat of someone alone and vulnerable. Abandoned by the other instruments, the bass line ends in a small burst of faster notes. Then silence.

The lyrics resonate so powerfully because they seem to be drawn from the vocabulary of fairy tales and ghost stories. Their very generality– the absence of peculiar or notable details– is what gives them psychological force:

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