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Rhinegold Education: Key Stage 3 Lesson 13

From Rhinegold Education, a Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14) lesson 13 teaching you even more about Film Music!

Learning Objective: Improvise and compose; extend and develop musical ideas by drawing on a range of musical contrasts; identify and use the inter-related dimensions of music with increasing sophistication; listen with increasing discrimination to a wide range of music from great composers and musicians.

Length: 45 minutes

1. This lesson is about contrasts in music.

Watch Robin Nolan explain how to perform using contrasts of melody and chords. Watch until 3:17 and see if you can spot: when does he play melody? When does he play chords?*

2. Contrast is an important concept in music.

When composing music (especially when composing for a single instrument) it is important to think of contrasts such as melody/chords; loud/quiet; fast/slow; high/low. Watch this performance of “En los trigales” by Joaquin Rodrigo. What contrasts can you hear?

Watch it again, focusing on detail. What contrasts can you hear:

a) from 0:00-0:09?
b) from 0:09-0:20?
c) from 0:48-0:56?
d) from 1:36-1:39?

Listen below for the answers.

3. Different instruments can make different contrasts.

Some instruments can contrast melody and chords. Some can contrast loud and quiet, some can contrast high and low, and most can contrast slow and fast. What contrasts do you notice in this clip?

4. Now watch two solos on completely different instruments.

First, can you find at least 4 contrasts in this drum improvisation? (Start at 0:30)

Listen here for the answers.

5. What contrasts do you hear in this performance of Syrinx by Claude Debussy?

Can you find at least 3? (Finish at 2:36)

Why do you think the two sets of contrasts in steps 4 and 5 are so different?

Listen here for the answers.

6. Listen to the “instrumental effects” in this music, taken from videos used in this lesson so far:

“En los trigales” (Guitar): hammering on (e.g. 0:52), harmonics (e.g. 2:42), vibrato (e.g. 2:17)

“No woman, no cry” (Cello): double stopping (e.g. 0:08), harmonics (e.g. 0:12) pizzicato (2:26)

“Improvisation” (Bucket): crossing hands (e.g. 0:41), tapping the pavement (e.g. 1:44)

These effects increase the possibility for contrasts because the effects sound different from the more usual ways of playing.

7. Soon you can compose a piece of music for your own instrument, using contrasts.

Before you do, let’s look in more detail at one of the pieces you have heard.

Each piece starts with a fairly short phrase. For example, “En los trigales” starts with this phrase:

Listen to how this phrase is played:

  1. at a low pitch (0:00)
  2. higher, with chords and small changes to the pitch (0:04)
  3. at the higher pitch, without chords (0:10)
  4. higher pitch, with a different accompaniment (0:24)
  5. with the same accompaniment but with a different ending (0:34)

There are also different phrases and different chords (as well as, occasional, very effective silences) but the music often returns to the rhythm or the melody of the first phrase. 

8. With all of this in mind, compose a short piece for your own instrument.

Before you do, listen to these instructions.

You can use some of these ideas:

  1. Start with a single, short phrase
  2. Play it again, with one contrast
  3. Play it again, and change the last 1 or 2 notes
  4. Play a-c again, with a new contrast (e.g. quieter or slower)
  5. Use the rhythm of your first phrase but change the pitches.
  6. Use one or more “instrumental effects”
  7. At some point in the music, play very loudly (or perhaps very fast); at another point, play very quietly (or slowly)

To listen to contrasts in music for a brass instrument, listen to Meltemi by Esther Hopkins. To listen to contrasts in vocal music, listen to Sequenza 3 by Luciano Berio.
 
By Tim Cain for Rhinegold Education

*NB The term “Gypsy Jazz”  used in this video describes a style of jazz made popular by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli during the 1930s. The term “Gypsy” is now considered disrespectful, but “Gypsy Jazz” is still used to describe this style of music.

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