On Tuesday 30th June, Hull Music Hub showcased the creative compositions inspired by the ‘BBC Ten Pieces’ project with a ‘Performance and Presentation’ concert at 1.00 pm.
Pupils from Adelaide, Buckingham, Bude Park, Gillshill, Newland St Johns, Oldfleet, St Anthony’s, St Charles, St James and St Richard’s primary schools shared their original work with performances, readings and videos.
Tom Lawrence, percussion teacher and composer, worked with the schools to help develop many of the pieces that had their debut on the day. The City of Hull Youth Symphony Orchestra took part – supporting some of the compositions with Tom’s arrangements.
The concert provided a real variety of creativity with dance, a huge choir, a large brass group and even an iPad orchestra among the line up!
JOHN ADAMS (b. 1947)
Short Ride in a Fast Machine
- Have the children ever been for a ride in a fast machine? Maybe at Hull Fair? Perhaps they could create some artwork based on the experience?
- Why not have a go at describing what the ride felt like using musical instruments? Was is fast straight way or did it start slowly? Were there any sudden stops and starts or changes of direction? How could these be expressed musically?
- This piece is built up of many musical layers, starting with a woodblock. The way that the layers overlap and intertwine creates energy and excitement, and the woodblock gives a sense of the music constantly rushing by. Have a go at creating some of your own rhythmic layers. Combining them in different ways, with one part staying constant throughout is a good way of creating shape and structure from simple ideas.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827)
Symphony No. 5 (1st movement)
- ‘Da Da Da Duh!’ ‘Da Da Da Duh!’. This piece is built around probably the most famous musical idea ever written. Why not have a go at creating your own four note theme using any two pitches and a different combination of long and short sounds? What happens if you use three notes, or more or less sounds?
- There is also a contrasting, more lyrical section, and the music progresses by exploring these two ideas and developing them. Perhaps you can write another contrasting idea to go with your first theme? Listen to all the different ways Beethoven varies his initial ideas before the original versions come back at the end. How many ways can you think of to vary your themes? Perhaps changing the instruments, changing speed, having more people join in or drop out?
- Taking simple ideas and developing them, before returning to the original ideas at the end will give a good sense of form and structure to your piece.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913 – 1976)
‘Storm’ Interlude from ‘Peter Grimes’
- Can the children describe being caught in a thunderstorm? Perhaps they’ve even been out in a boat at sea when the weather was bad. Maybe they could create some artwork based on these experiences? Have a go at describing how it looks and feels using musical instruments.
- Listen to how Britten uses dynamics (sudden louds and softs) and dissonance (clashing notes, right next to each other on a piano keyboard) to make you feel as if you are being tossed about in a boat on the sea. Have a go at using louds and softs and clashing sounds to create your own unstable, churning music.
- This piece follows a loose rondo form, this means the same idea keeps coming back, interspersed with different ones (ABACADA). Section A is played on the timpani drums and brass instruments, perhaps representing thunder. B is the clashing, swirling strings. C sounds like spluttering rain and sea spray, and D is calmer, though still unstable, with rays of sunshine trying to break through the clouds. Using a form like this where one idea keeps coming back throughout the piece, even if it is changed in some way, will give a good sense of shape and structure to your own piece of music.
EDVARD GRIEG (1843 – 1907)
In The Hall Of The Mountain King
- This piece describes a dream-like adventure to the home of a troll king called ‘Dovregubben’. “There is a great crowd of troll courtiers, gnomes and goblins. Dovregubben sits on his throne, with crown and sceptre, surrounded by his children and relatives”. Perhaps the children could make some artwork depicting this scene?
- This piece starts quietly and builds towards a dramatic climax. Listen to how Grieg uses pizzicato (the plucking of the strings) at the beginning to give the piece an eerie, scary sound and create suspense. Can the children think of any different ways to use their musical instruments to create a similar, scary feel?
- This piece not only gets louder and louder (crescendo) but also gets faster and faster (accellerando). Changing speed throughout a piece can give a really exciting shape to the music, especially if it happens gradually.
GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
Zadok the Priest
- Have the children ever heard this piece before? Perhaps as the introduction music for Champions League football matches? It was written for the coronation of King George II in 1727 and has been played at every coronation since. Perhaps the children can think of the most important occasion they’ve ever attended and how it made them feel. Were they excited? Did they have to behave in a certain way?
- The opening of this music creates a great sense of building excitement, but in a very restrained, orderly and ceremonial way. The repeated four note patterns in the strings move steadily upwards, one note at a time, giving the music the feeling of a sedate procession. Perhaps you can have a go at creating your own processional music using a repeated, steady rhythm changing only slowly and gradually.
- The opening procession is followed by music expressing joy and celebration, and a chorus of ‘God Save the King’. Perhaps the children can think of something else worth celebrating to sing about in the chorus of their piece? A gradual, stately procession followed by a joyful chorus where more instruments and a choir of voices join in, will create a dramatic shape to your piece.
GUSTAV HOLST (1874 – 1934)
‘Mars’ from ‘The Planets’
- Does this music sound familiar? It is very like the music written for Star Wars and many other films and TV shows. Perhaps the children can describe the kind of action they can imagine on screen to go with this music? Maybe they could create some artwork depicting these ideas?
- This piece is built around an ostinato (repeated rhythm) which is very percussive and aggressive. This is combined with the ominous long notes of the theme, and together with the gradual crescendo (getting louder and louder) this creates a real sense of drama and excitement. Perhaps the children can have a go at creating their own ostinato rhythm and ominous long note tune?
- Listen to how the piece builds and builds as it goes on. More and more instruments join in and the music gets louder and louder. Using a shape like this, or indeed the opposite where the music starts loud and gets quieter, will give a good sense of structure to your piece.
ANNA MEREDITH (b.1978)
- This piece uses body percussion and percussive vocal sounds to create the music. Perhaps the children can have a go at some of the moves from the piece (see tutorial videos on the Ten Pieces website,http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0295j47). Can they think of any of their own moves or sounds using their bodies and voices in a percussive way?
- In this piece the musical ideas move around the group in different ways, sometimes passed from one person to another like a Mexican wave, or exchanged back and forth like a musical conversation or argument. Perhaps the children can think of some different ways to move simple musical ideas around the group? Perhaps there could be more than one idea going around at once?
- The movements in this piece give a visual description of its structure. We can see as well as hear the music moving from one place to another. Perhaps the children can think of a set of moves to create the shape of their piece?
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Horn Concerto No. 4 (3rd movement)
- This piece is a concerto, where a solo musician takes the lead and the rest of the orchestra provide the accompaniment. Perhaps the children can think of other, non-musical settings (perhaps sporting or dramatic) where one person is the centre of attention and others form the supporting cast?
- The soloist in this piece is very much the driving force behind the music. The orchestra often repeat the same musical ideas played by the soloist, as if to emphasise them. Why not try experimenting with this ‘Call and Response’ idea on your own instruments with different children taking the role of soloist?
- This piece uses a rondo form (ABACADA) where the initial theme returns again and again throughout the piece, interspersed with different ideas. Listen out for how the soloist leads the orchestra from the theme into each new section. Having a leader, or group of leaders who direct other players to play different sections of music is a good way to create a piece from short sections, and together with a rondo form can give excellent shape to the music.
MODEST MUSSORGSKY (1839 – 1881)
A Night on the Bare Mountain
- This piece describes a wild and frightening party for witches, at midnight, on top of a cold and barren mountain. Perhaps the children could produce some artwork inspired by the scene? Perhaps they have been to some wild and scary Halloween parties themselves?
- Mussorgsky uses sudden changes of dynamics (louds and softs) and sudden stops and starts to create excitement and energy in the music. Why not try experimenting with sudden changes like this on your instruments? How can you co-ordinate the music so everyone stops and starts together?
- In the middle of the piece the music becomes very quiet, before building up in speed and volume, and then at the end the music dies away as the church bell rings out to signal the dawn. Using dynamics and textural changes (adding or taking away different layers of music) to create the structure of the music can create a really exciting shape for the piece.
IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882 – 1971)
The Firebird – suite (1911) (Finale)
- This piece of music is taken from the end of a ballet where, after a fantastical story involving an ogre, a mythical bird, a magic feather and lots of princesses, the central characters in the story get married. Have the children ever been to a wedding or other kind of celebration? What kind of music was played?
- In a ballet a story is told without words, using only music and dance. Perhaps the children could have a go at trying to communicate very simple scenes using only music and movement?
- The beginning of the piece is very quiet but as the melody repeats, more and more instruments join in, and the music gets louder and louder (crescendo). This creates a sense of drama suitable for a bride walking down the aisle on her wedding day. Repeating the same musical idea but adding more and more layers can create an exciting structure for a piece.