Everyday I have the blues

Post-Christmas blues has prevailed in Year 9 music as they have been looking at The Blues from its origins in the US to it’s modern renditions by the likes of Eric Clapton and Jools Holland. Students all learnt to play the 12 bar blues chord pattern on keyboards before embarking on their own blues compositions. Here is a small taste of the varied and imaginative music they created. The first was composed on an iPad and the second is a live blues improvisation on electric guitar.

Advertisements

All about Texture

Year 8 have been focusing on the musical element of texture and the effect changing textures can have on a piece of music. Whilst general descriptive words can be used to talk about texture in music such as ‘sparse’, or ‘full’, there are some technical terms which are useful to know and understand so students have been getting to grips with monophonic (a single line), homophonic (chordal, blocks of sound) and polyphonic (interweaving melody lines) textures. They put their knowledge and understanding into practice by devising a composition that includes all three types of texture.
Here are some of their pieces:

Song writing from scratch

With Move Up Day happening this week, students all moved up to the year they will be coming back into in September to get a feel for what it will be like. Year 9 students were able to go to some of their option choices including music. We jumped straight into the musical action with a composing challenge: compose a song (a verse or chorus) from scratch including a chord pattern, melody, bass line and beat. Impressively, here’s the collaborative result which took just under an hour to create:

Rapping it up

Year 9 have been learning about Rap, not only its history but also the technical ins and outs – the flow, delivery, enunciation and style. After spending some time listening to classics such as Grandmaster Flash and Puff Daddy, they set about writing their own rap from scratch, starting with devising their own lyrics. Subjects varied from Communism and Feminism to Trump and rabbits… – you can never tell where inspiration will strike! They then had to compose a backing track and rap their lyrics over this. The whole process showed them that rap is a lot more complicated than it might appear. Here are some examples of their work:

Drum Duet

The Prep School had a rousing start to their week recently when two drummers from Year 9 performed a duet for them. The students, who are both set to do GCSE Music, devised the whole thing themselves, drawing on rhythms they had learnt in drum lessons and material they had experimented with in their jamming sessions at school. They thought carefully about how to make best use of the entire kit, including two snare drums and they included a section which exploits the different timbre (sound) that can be achieved through rim shots. The texture of the piece is varied and the tempo also changes to help create a sense of build up and excitement. They even thought about the visual aspect of their performance by swapping places halfway through whilst still keeping the rhythms going! Unfortunately you won’t be able to see this but you can listen to an audio clip of their impressive piece here:

Post-Christmas Blues

Year 9 have had the blues since coming back to school after Christmas. They have looked at the origins and development of blues music and focused on the chord structure as well as identifying ‘blue’ notes and a walking bass line. After listening to some early blues by Robert Johnson and a blues standard, ‘Everyday I have the blues’, performed by B. B. King, they embarked on their own blues pieces. There are two examples of their work below – the first is a live performance combining a digital drum kit and a drum kit created through Logic Pro and played on a midi keyboard. The second was created on GarageBand and could be described as blues with a psychedelic twist!

Shaping music

So far this term Year 8 have been looking at the concept of structure in music and how composers of all genres and styles give a shape to their work. We have focused most recently on ternary form, otherwise known as ABA form, where there is a middle section which provides a contrast with the outer A sections. Most memorably for Year 8 ternary form can be likened to a jammy dodger biscuit with its contrasting filling sandwiched between two biscuits and of course, in the name of hands on learning, we had to sample a few of these just to be sure!
Here is piece in ternary form which two students composed and performed live to the class: