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Newlands
Girls’ School

Home Learning - Year 9

Task 1 – Listening task.

Suggested time: 1 hour

Listen to two of the pieces of music/songs listed below.   Listen carefully and think about the different elements of music that are used.

List of pieces/songs to choose from:

  • J S Bach: 3rd Movement from Brandenburg Concerto no. 5 in D major
  • L van Beethoven: 1st Movement from Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor ‘Pathétique’ Killer Queen
  • H Purcell: Music for a While
  • Queen: Killer Queen (from the album ‘Sheer Heart Attack’)
  • S Schwartz: Defying Gravity (from the album of the cast recording of Wicked)
  •  J Williams: Main title/rebel blockade runner (from the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
  •  Afro Celt Sound System: Release (from the album ‘Volume 2: Release’)
  •  Esperanza Spalding: Samba Em Preludio (from the album ‘Esperanza’)

What should I listen for?

You could try to answer following questions when you are listening to each piece of music:

  • When was it composed (written, created)?
  • What style/genre of music is it?
  • What instruments are playing/what types of voice are being used?
  • What is the tempo? (speed of music), does it stay the same or does it change?
  • How many beats in a bar are there?
  • What is the tonality? (Is it in a major or minor key?)
  • What is the structure of the song (how many different sections are there, what are they called? E.g. chorus introduction, section A, section B, are there any repeats etc)
  • What makes the songs different?
  • Describe the dynamics (different volumes). Think about the start and end volume, what happens in the middle?
  • What do you like and dislike about each song? (give musical reasons)
  • Which piece do you prefer and why?

Links

Here are YouTube links to the extracts. They are also available on Spotify:

Task 2 – Research task

Suggested time: 1 hour

Research one of the music composers/groups/musicians listed below: (these are all composers we study for GCSE music):

Composers/groups/musicians

  • J S Bach
  • L van Beethoven
  • Henry Purcell
  • Queen (the band, not the Monarch!)
  • Stephen Schwartz
  •  John Williams
  • Afro Celt Sound System
  • Esperanza Spalding

What should I research?

Here are some of things you could to find out:

Biographical information:

  • When the composer/performer(s) were born?
  • When did they die (if relevant)
  • Where they were born?
  • Any other interesting/relevant personal information

 

Their musical life:

  • Where did they learn about music?
  • Did they play any instruments?
  • Who was in the group (Queen and Afro Celt Sound System)
  • What was unique about their style?

Their musical contributions:

  • What genres/styles of music did they compose/perform?
  • Find out at least 5 different songs/pieces of music they composed
  • Listen to 2 of the songs/pieces of music they composed

Task 3 – lyric writing

Suggested time: 1 hour

Part 1:  Lyric writing and melody writing.

Try creating some lyrics for your own song. Create lyrics for at least 2 verses and chorus.

Listen to 2 different songs first for inspiration, focus carefully on the lyrics. Think about the structure of the lyrics and the content of the lyrics.

Part 2:  Creating a melody (tune) .

Now you could try creating a melody to go with these lyrics. You could create a melody on any instrument or just by using your voice!

Tips for writing lyrics

  • Think about what you want your song to be about. Write lyrics that convey the main theme or message throughout your song (try to cover only one topic or message throughout the song)
  • Chorus sections usually use the same lyrics each time the chorus comes around. Your chorus is your best chance to help make the song memorable and catchy.
  • Each verse usually has different lyrics but these are still linked to the theme of the song.  Think of your lyrics as telling a story! Verses are usually the place to tell the story, try to make the details interesting.
  • Just remember, you are trying to tell a story with your lyrics.

Here are some ideas for different ways you could try keeping a record of your melody:

  • Record yourself singing/humming/playing your melody, you could use a phone to do this
  • Write the letter names down on a piece of paper: e.g. C, C, C, C, D, D, E, E, E, E, D
  • If you know how to use staff notation (writing notes on the stave – the 5 lines music can be written on), you could write the notes out this way.
  • You could create a graphic score to represent the shape of your melody

Task 4 – structure and chords

Suggested time: 1 hour

Part 1: Design the structure of your pop song. Choose from the sections below and put them in the order you would like to use them in your own song. You can use sections more than once:

Intro, outro, verse, chorus, middle 8, bridges instrumental.

Part 2: Create a chord sequence to accompany your lyrics and melody. Try using 4 different chords to create a chord sequence for your verse and chorus. You will need a different chord sequence for both of these sections (they can be similar).

Tips

Structure

Here is one example of structure in a popular song. You can have more sections if you want to. I have added descriptions to help you understand each section.

Intro

The first section in the song, introduces the main key and chord sequence

Verse

The part that builds tells the story. The words change each time but the melody usually stays the same.

Chorus

The part that is repeated, usually the catchy part that sums up the main theme of your song.

Verse 2

Continues to tell the story. Same melody as verse 1, different lyrics

Middle 8

This is a link section which sometimes happens between a verse and chorus. This section is often 8 bars long and helps to create contrast. It  usually has a different chord sequence or melody to the verse and chorus.

Chorus

Catchy part of the song again

Outro

The end section of the song

Tips for writing a chord sequence

  • Your chord sequence needs to fit with your melody. Some people find it easier to create a chord sequence before the melody, you can do it whichever way you feel most comfortable.
  • If you are not sure where to start, try using the following chords: C, F, G Am (C chord = notes CEG together. F chord = note FAC together. G chord = notes GBD together. Am chord = notes ACE together)
  • You can choose different chords if you want to
  • You do not need an instrument to be able to create a chord sequence. If you do not have an instrument, create a chord grid like the example below by choosing from the chords already mentioned
  • If you have an instrument, you could try playing through your chord sequence

Extension task ideas

If you would like to try a few more musical tasks, here are a few ideas of things you could try:

  • Learn to play a new song on an instrument (good idea if you are planning on doing GCSE music next year)
  • Learn to sing a new song (good idea if you are planning on doing GCSE music next year)
  • Memorise where the notes are on a musical keyboard
  • Memorise where the notes are on the stave (how to read music)
  • Visit the website:  www.musictheory.net and try to learn something new about music theory
  • Read through the ‘basic music literacy’ at the bottom of this document and try to learn some of the
  • Try to create your own rhythm track on the website www.soundation.com
  • Listen to genres/styles of music you wouldn’t usually listen to

Some websites you might find useful:

Free composing sites:

Bandlab.com

Soundation.com

Music theory sites

Music theory.net

Teoria.com

Music videos to help with learning about music

Other useful music websites: