Year 7 have been composing with emojis – they were given around 40 to choose from and could select up to four to use as inspiration for a composition.
Here is one of their creations which used these emojis -😎😢😡😴
Years 7 and 8 were treated to a workshop with the American cellist and composer Aaron Minsky. He started out as a rock guitarist before seriously studying the cello from his mid teens. His unusual playing style combines rock guitar techniques with traditional classical cello playing as you will see in the video clip below. Many of his compositions also combine both classical and popular music with the aim of making what is usually viewed as a classical instrument more accessible and versatile.
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:
Years 7 and 8 who had signed up were put through their paces at lunchtime today in the dance audition for The Witches. The audition was led by our two Year 10 dancers who choreographed it and taught the younger students their steps. We were impressed by our Year 10s, whose expertise we will definitely be needing to choreograph a dance scene in The Witches, and by how quickly the Year 7 and 8s learned the steps from scratch in a matter of minutes.
You can watch an extract from the audition below:
Year 7 were set a performing challenge at the start of this term. Their brief – to turn a 4 part rhythm lasting one bar into a performance with a clear structure, varied timbre and, ideally, a call and response melody. Quite a tall order but here is what one group achieved:
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:
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:
Year 7 have been investigating pentatonic music and discovered that there are a lot of pop songs out there with melodies based on just five notes – a pentatonic scale. Having got to grips with a pentatonic scale themselves they then composed a piece of music using this. Some of them initially found it quite a challenge to stick to the pentatonic scale but here are two examples of what some of the students created. The first is a live performance and the second a piece composed using GarageBand.
Inspired by Stravinsky’s controversial ballet, The Rite of Spring and Kraftwerk’s single ‘The Man Machine’, Year 7 composed their very own machine music pieces. Their brief was to include at least two repeating patterns (the technical term for this is an ostinato), to make up their own chord and to try to use accents. These are all features of Stravinsky’s work which provoked a riot amongst the Parisian audience at its first performance in 1913, not only because of its unpredictable rhythms and accents, strange chords and repeated melodic fragments but because of the highly unconventional choreography.
You can listen to some of Year 7’s compositions below:
The term began with an inspiring electric guitar demo from our new visiting instrumental teacher, Neil Cowlan:
Year 7 were working on call and response melodies over a repeating chord pattern. Here are some of their renditions of ‘Mr Bean’s Tune’:
Year 8 looked at theme & variation and they came up with some lovely alternative takes on well known melodies such as Happy birthday and Twinkle, twinkle little star.