Frankenstein music

Music and Literature joined forces in the final composition assignment of the term for Year 8. Their brief – to compose a piece of music inspired by an extract from Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. The extract began:  ‘It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs’. Frankenstein is captivated by the beauty of his creation’s hair and teeth but utterly repulsed by his ‘shrivelled complexion and straight black lips’. The scene reaches a climax when the monster appears in the scientist’s bedchamber and Frankenstein consequently flees in horror.

Here are a couple of their compositions:


Rapping with poetry

Year 9 discovered how complicated a good rap actually is when they had a go themselves. Having listened to a range of different rap styles including Puff Daddy and MC Hammer, they chose one of two Maya Angelou poems (‘I know why the caged bird sings’ & ‘Life doesn’t frighten me’), composed their own backing and worked out how they would rap the words.

Here are some examples of their work which show quite varying approaches and results:

Gamelan Workshop

Year 7 had a wonderful afternoon in the University Music Faculty, learning how to play Indonesian gamelan music on traditional Javanese instruments. They had to use their memories, coordination and listening skills in order to remember the music, play the instruments correctly and keep in time together.

Here they are in action:


They were put through their paces by an expert in the field, Robert Campion, who runs the University gamelan society and performs regularly with the South Bank Gamelan Players. Here he is demonstrating some other instruments that can be part of the gamelan:


Love me tender remix

What makes a good melody? Year 7 have been addressing this by looking at the melody which Elvis Presley made famous in his song ‘Love me tender, love me sweet’. They established that it has a good mix of repeated notes, leaps and movement by step, that it has a balanced structure and sits comfortably within a vocal range.

Their brief was then to take the song and put their own stamp on it, keeping the original melody but adding in some new parts. Here’s a taste of some of their work –  the first is a sci-fi take on the melody and the second one involves different instruments and some new harmonies: