Composition from a Visual Model
This is a High School, Theory AP class which has begun analysis and composition based on various models. The class meets once a week for three hours after school.
The students will understand the compositional elements of ³color and texture² through the composition of their own pieces.
This lesson fits into the curriculum by encouraging students to explore various musical sounds in order to create color and texture. In this way, they will better understand the creative process of the great composers as well as learn to apply this in their own compositions.
24 keyboard and computer lab
High-definition projector with the ability to project images directly from the instructorıs
Audio playback system
(Projector, screen, instructorıs computer)
As students enter, a picture featuring either a current event, a cartoon, or a famous work of art is projected onto the screen. The board contains the question, ³Can you tell me a story about the picture?²
For this lesson, the teacher would choose two pictures featuring either a current event, a cartoon, or a famous work of art. One picture would be used for the model exercise with the whole class, and the other picture would be used for the individual assignments.
(Projector, screen, instructorıs computer)
As the class enters, the first picture is projected onto the screen. The writing board contains the question, ³Can you tell me a story about the picture?² When the students have arrived, the teacher would ask the class to collectively create a story about what they see. (Perhaps, the teacher would ask questions that would help the mental construct so that the students could complete their story.)
Then, the class would discuss how color and texture could be used to ³paint² the picture with music. The discussion could include quality of musical sounds, dynamics, similar and contrasting colors of sounds, note values, and many or few instruments involved. The teacher could ask, ³Of the composers we have studied, which has created a piece that would have sounds similar to what you would like to create?²
(Instructor or student computer, keyboard Sibelius or Pro Tools)
At this point, the class would collectively compose a very short piece that told some of their story using these elements. Students could call out simple ideas, and either the teacher or one student could input the ideas at their station.
(Audio playback system, Instructor or student computer, keyboard Sibelius or Pro Tools)
The piece would be played for the class. Then the class would discuss the composition. This could be a place where questions from individual students could be asked. Particularly, questions pertaining to the studentıs understanding of the goals of the composition and steps to create the piece as well as questions pertaining to the software being used.
(Projector, screen, instructorıs computer, student computer, keyboard Sibelius or Pro Tools)
Next, the teacher would display the second picture for the class. After the students have studied the picture, the teacher would invite each student to write their own short story about the picture. The story could be about anything. The teacher could circulate around the room asking questions to each student about which emotions were being addressed, or which activities were happening. As the stories became close to completion, the teacher could again circulate and ask the student to think of musical concepts that would express the story. Which colors and textures would best suit their story. What quality of musical sounds, dynamics, similar and contrasting colors of sounds, note values, and many or few instruments could the student could use to create their composition. Perhaps showing the student a few sound options from the computer.
At this point, the students would work on their composition. The pieces should be short so that they could be finished by the end of the class. However, the lesson could also continue into the next class session.
The students would finish their compositions and burn them to CDs.
(Audio playback system)
The next class session would be devoted to the listening and discussing of the compositions.
The students will demonstrate their understanding through the completion and presentation of their compositions.
The students will state their understanding of color and texture during the summary discussions about the student pieces.
Students could compose other pieces supplying their own models that are either visual, literary, or aural. Students could re-orchestrate their pieces in order to discover how different groupings of instrumentation affect color and texture.