Year 7 have been composing using a pentatonic scale as the basis for their piece. This means just 5 notes to choose from rather than the more usual 8 – the most obvious example of a ready made pentatonic scale is to play the black notes on a keyboard. Alternatively in GarageBand you can select a pentatonic scale and the keyboard will be automatically reconfigured to use just those 5 notes. Sounds a bit restrictive? Not if these creations are anything to go by:
Year 8 have been responding to a composing brief, focusing especially on texture, timbre and pitch: ‘Compose a piece of music that takes the listener on a journey from the centre of the earth to the edge of space.’
Here are some of their creations:
Year 7 have spent the last two lessons exploring graphic scores – trying to visualise in shape and colour the sounds they are listening to, as well as turning a series of shapes and symbols into musical sound.
Here’s what they were working from:
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:
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:
Students at Sancton Wood were treated to an interactive concert given by upcoming pop star Josh Davis and his guitarist, Harrison. They have been touring the country performing in schools and talking to students about the importance of internet safety. Josh has just signed a deal with The Famous Company to create an EP of original material has performed at a number of events across the UK, most recently supporting former X Factor winner Ben Haenow. His voice has been hailed as the UK’s next Justin Bieber.
Our students were in good voice too on Friday afternoon, as you will hear in the clips below!
The Cabaret Evening showcased talent in the performing arts from Year 8 through to Year 11, not forgetting our lovely poetry reading quartet of Year 5 and 6 students who extolled the benefits of music and drama in verse they had written themselves. For Year 10s and 11s it was an opportunity to air examination material – drama students performed their monologues and music students performed some of their solo and ensemble pieces. Year 8 and 9 students auditioned to provide supporting acts and it was really exciting to see the performing potential already developing amongst the younger years.
We can’t show the monologues as they are coursework submissions but, suffice it to say, there were some stunning and tear-jerking performances. Below you can find musical highlights from the evening as well as some rehearsal clips from the day.
Feeling Good, performed by our Year 11 band who have been playing together since the end of Year 8
Composed and performed by Oscar and James in Year 11
God Help the Outcast, sung by Jessica in Year 11
I see Fire, chosen and sung by Fraser in Year 8
Blackbird, played by Oscar (Yr11) and a budding new band in the form of Year 8 boys singing Locked Away
The Power of Love, chosen and sung by Phoebe and Sapphire (Year 9)
Asturias by Albeniz, performed by James in Year 11
Martha and Rose in Year 8 performing a piano duet
Chopin Waltz performed by Toby in Year 11
Senior Choir, A Thousand Years
Prep students and staff were transported to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in assembly on Friday when Homerton’s steel pan band came to visit. Absolute Pandemonium was formed in the 1980s and is a student run band which plays regularly for schools as well as May Balls and other engagements.
Traditionally, steel pans were made from the oil drums left behind by the US army after the 2nd World War. They come in all sizes – the shallower the pan the higher the pitch. After heating to a high temperature, the top is hammered to produce indentations which give pitched notes when struck with rubber tipped sticks.
After performing in assembly, including a foot tapping arrangement of Glenn Miller’s ‘In the Mood’, the band ran a workshop for anyone who wanted to get their hands on a steel pan. All sorts of latent talent was discovered as the Homerton students taught ours to play.
You can see some action packed photos from the workshop below:
What makes a good melody? This is a question Year 8 have been trying to answer by looking at a range of different, well known melodies, including the theme tune from The Apprentice (otherwise known as ‘Dance of the Knights’ by Prokofiev). The students teased out the musical features of this melody as well as the theme from Swan Lake and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, by analysing the rhythm, movement by step or by leap, use of repetition and overall structure. After watching an excellent flashmob performance of this in Sabadell plaza, Catalonia, they all learnt to play the Ode to Joy melody.
You can watch the fruits of their labour below (and it’s worth knowing that only two of the students performing in this short clip are having formal piano lessons):