Macbeth meets music

Next term Year 9 will be taking a look at rap and trying their hand at writing their own. By way of an introduction they have spent the last few lessons examining the relationship between words and music and the impact that the latter can have on atmosphere and meaning. Their brief was to choose one of two extracts from Macbeth and come up with music to accompany the reading of the extract that would set the scene, track the text and enhance the atmosphere. Interestingly, all except one group chose to use a predominantly string sound for their music and the general consensus was that it conveyed an appropriately dark mood.

You can listen to three examples of their work here. Two were composed on GarageBand and one was performed live on the piano.

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Encounters with Indonesian music

Year 7 were put through their paces this week when they learnt how to play traditional Indonesian music in a workshop at Cambridge University Music Faculty. The gamelan, as it is called, refers to the whole group of instruments, rather like our word ‘orchestra’. Gamelan comprises a range of different sized gongs, metallophones and drums; the latter are played with the hands whilst the gongs and metallophones are struck with mallets.
Much of the music is based on pentatonic scales and is learned orally rather than being notated. This meant our Year 7 students had to remember the patterns of notes they were taught and listen to everyone else in the group really carefully in order to stay in time.
Here are a few photos and clips of them in action:
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It’s all in your head

Just before Christmas the year 11 GCSE Drama students received their pre-released material. They had to devise a piece of original drama based on one of three stimuli. The students chose a black and white photograph of a young boy smiling, with a blurred figure in the background over his shoulder.

The end result was a challenging and thought provoking look into mental health, schizophrenia and the devastating effects that can occur.

Please be aware that there is some swearing within this performance, which is in context as a piece of GCSE coursework.