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Musique concrète at secondary school: Asking the ‘right’ questions Anna-Marie Higgins PhD Student (Education) Cambridge University.

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Presentation on theme: "Musique concrète at secondary school: Asking the ‘right’ questions Anna-Marie Higgins PhD Student (Education) Cambridge University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Musique concrète at secondary school: Asking the ‘right’ questions Anna-Marie Higgins PhD Student (Education) Cambridge University

2 Context Musique Concrète Meaning Aesthetic field (Abbs, 1987) ‘Instrumental’ techniques? Filtering sounds Adding reverb, delay, echo Generating tones Shifting the pitch Composing techniques? Developing a motif Retrograde Layering sounds Fading in and out explore the repertoire explore the repertoire analyse and respond analyse and respond meaningfully to it meaningfully to it create music create music

3 Secondary School Listening “… understand, identify and describe the range of musical features” “recognise musical styles; place music in its historical context ” “make comparative judgements about music” “evaluate interpretation and performance in the light of experience already attained ” “ analyse and describe patterns of repetition and change…” repetition and change…” Musical Concepts Musical Concepts Predictability Predictability Score Score ‘Deeper’ than ‘Naïve’ listening ‘Deeper’ than ‘Naïve’ listening

4 Listening to Musique Concrète “… understand, identify and describe the range of musical features” “make comparative judgements about music” “ analyse and describe patterns of repetition and change…” repetition and change…” Musical Concepts? Musical Concepts? Predictability? Predictability? Score? Score? Deeper than Naïve listening? Deeper than Naïve listening?

5 Research Question How can music teachers help their secondary school students to find meaning in musique concrète through listening?

6 Something to hold on to The ‘something-to-hold-on-to’ factor (Landy,1994) The ‘something-to-hold-on-to’ factor (Landy,1994) Intention-Reception Project (Weale, 2006) Intention-Reception Project (Weale, 2006) 1.What might this piece be about? 2.What sounds did you recognise in the composition? 3.If you heard sounds that were strange… describe them. 4.Did the composition conjure images in your mind? 5.Did the composition suggest a narrative? 6.Did the composition seem to convey any emotion? 7.What aspects did you find most engaging in the composition? 8.What aspects did you find least engaging in the composition? 9.Did the composition make you want to keep listening or was it uninteresting? 10.Would you listen to a similar type of composition again in the future?

7 Methods 3 groups of Transition Year students 3 groups of Transition Year students Similar school setting Similar school setting Listening to four pieces; following the waveform on an Listening to four pieces; following the waveform on an audio editor; using a printout of the waveform audio editor; using a printout of the waveform Group 1 – Open Group 1 – Open Group 2 – Open and Closed Group 2 – Open and Closed Group 3 – Closed Group 3 – Closed Post-listening group interview Post-listening group interview

8 Four Pieces 1.Dripsody 2.Under the Green Time 3.The Idea and its Shadow 4.Something Quite Atrocious

9 Group 1 1.Explain the title in relation to this piece. 2.Describe the sounds that you hear in this piece. 3.What musical elements can you hear? 4.What do you like and what do you dislike in this piece? 5.What would help you to understand this piece more?

10 Group 1 Dynamics Dynamics Repetition Repetition Rhythm Rhythm Accompaniment Accompaniment Tempo Tempo Pitch Pitch Variety of sounds Variety of sounds Variation of a sound Variation of a sound Irish tune Irish tune Blending Blending Sections? Indifferent

11 Group 2 1.Explain the title by referring to one detail in the piece. 2.Divide the waveform into different musical sections. Label these 1, 2, 3. Say how these sections differ from each other. 3.What is the most interesting aspect of this piece, in your opinion? 4.Write down two questions that you would like to ask the composer about this piece.

12 Group 2 Sections:‘beginning-middle-end’‘slow-fast-slow’‘drilling-talking-singing’ ‘gaps-no gaps-tune’ ‘fairly loud-loud-quiet’ Questions: Where did you get the sounds? Where did you get the idea? What inspired you to compose it? Where is it set? Is the title a mix of two words? Why? How was the piece made? Why do you classify this as music? What instruments are used? What machines are used? How did you control the tempo? How can an idea have a shadow? Were you on medication when you composed this? Engaged

13 Group 3 1.Divide the waveform into sections and label them 1, 2 (3, 4, 5) 2.Mark an example of each of the following on the waveform: 3. What is the structure?  ABA  AB  ABCA  ABCDE  other _________ 4. What aspect of the piece kept your attention? - rhythmical idea - melodic idea - soft - loud - fast - slow - silence - layer of sounds - repeat of earlier idea - contrast with earlier idea - the climax of the piece - an unexpected idea

14 Group 3 Terminology used in follow-up discussion. The idea of background and foreground. “The noise pulls you in and when you realise where it’s set, it almost hurts your teeth.” “The shadow really does overpower the idea. That was interesting.” “It’s very eerie. Makes you think and wonder: “You are trying to recognise the place all the time. It keeps you listening.” “When the voice disappeared so did my attention. Sorry.” “Having the waveform in front of me and being able to see where everything was happening kept my attention.” “His accent is very sing-songy. Wouldn’t work as well with a flat accent.” Confident opinions Positive and Inquiring

15 Further Development Further scaffolding by showing how sounds can be manipulated Listening to pieces with very obvious musique concrète techniques e.g. white noise gradually becoming a discernible pitch Asking the students to make questions for a new set of listeners.

16 Thank you for attending this presentation Anna-Marie Higgins


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