Music box (Friday)
Open our Music Box! What do you hear inside?
This week we are listening to 4 dances from an orchestral piece called Rodeo, (click here)
by the American composer Aaron Copeland.
Imagine yourself in the Wild West of America, watching the exciting events at a rodeo: bareback bronco riding, saddled bronco riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and tie-down/team roping. Then there's a chance to dance in the evening, to loosen the muscles and recall the events of the day.
This piece lasts about 20 minutes. It has 4 parts or movements. Can you hear where there is a pause between each movement? The four movements are called:
Each movement has a different rhythm and pace. How would you describe each movement?
Look back at the image in our Picture Gallery of the Yellow Cow. Imagine the cow dancing to this music! Or imagine yourself moving, picking up the pace as the music moves more quickly, trying to keep to the rhythm of the piece.
Use Google images to find pictures of modern day rodeos. Try to imagine the noises that would accompany these events,:the shouting of the crowd, the galloping of horses.
Put this music in the background as you do other things, and play it several times, so that you become familiar with the various melodies and rhythms in each movement.
Listen for different musical instruments as they play: trumpet, trombone, snare drum, violin, xylophone, ...... Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the middle of a busy, noisy 'hoedown' (a social gathering at which lively folk dancing takes place), kicking up your heels!
This week, watch a Google doodle about a traditional musical instrument from Africa.
It is called an mbira (um-beera).
The Google doodle is interactive, so you can follow a story about a girl who plays the mbira, you can 'play' an mbira (remotely!), and find out what it is made of. On this link, there is also information about how the Google Doodle was made and photos from a visit to Zimbabwe to research the music. Included also are story boards and water colour sketches of characters in the doodle story.
Here you can watch some youtube videos where the musicians play the mbira and talk about how to play it. Click here and here and here for more mbira music.
Imagine a house with six rooms. Here is a piece of music called Furniture Music (by Eric Satie) with six separate parts (or movements).
Listen carefully to each part (ignore the pictures on the video). Which room do you think belongs to which part? There is no 'right' answer: it's what you imagine each room sounds like, musically.
Now look at the pictures. Which language are they in? Are they pictures from now or in the past? What is your evidence? Try to translate some of the words.
Compose a dance to go with one of the movements in your chosen room. Perform your dance for your family. Encourage your family to compose their own dances and have an evening of dance!
Today's piece of music is the story of
composed by Sergei Prokofiev
The story is told with a narrator (in this Disney animated version, David Bowie) and an orchestra.
Different instruments in the orchestra play the different characters in the story. Each character has a unique melody or tune to announce their part of the story.
As you listen, try to recognise the various instruments, listening for their unique sound. Even if you don't know the names of the instruments, listen for the repeated melodies for the Peter, the bird, the duck, the cat, Peter's grandfather, the hunters and the wolf.
You might want to design a storyboard for this wonderful tale. Or paint/draw a scene from the story, in your own way, maybe taken from this version.
Enjoy this version from Disney, recorded in 1978 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. There are many versions available on Youtube, with different narrators. Try a few, and see which one you like the best!
Our second piece of music is La Mer
by Claude Debussy.
Suggested activities in response to 'La Mer':
- The title 'La Mer' is not English. What language is it? What does it mean? Can you think of words in English that use this French word as a stem-word [Hint: look up words beginning with mari]? What is the link between all of the words?
- Imagine yourself on the beach, listening to the sea as it is depicted in this piece. What happens to the waves during the piece? What does it make you feel? How do your feelings change?
- Put this music in the background and try some 'finger painting' - dip your finger in some paint or pick a pencil/pencil crayon. Follow the line it makes on the page, with strokes and movements that reflect what is happening in the music. What kind of picture appears?
- Find out about Claude Debussy. When/where was he born? How old was he when he composed 'La Mer'? What inspired him to compose the music? Listen to other pieces by Debussy. Are there any pieces that you particularly like?
- Listen to a popular French song, La Mer, written and performed by Charles Trenet in 1946. Here are the lyrics in French, with an English translation. Try to learn a few words in French with this song, so that you recognise them later in other French work we do (e.g. chanson, danser, la pluie, (le) ciel, moutons, grand).
- Here's a beautiful poem by James Reeves, 'The Sea'. What is the sea compared to? What kind of comparison is this? How does the sea change from the beginning of the poem to the end?
Listen to our first piece of music,
the Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky.