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Song

2010-10-31 

web links

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=129

 "A Day In The Life by The Beatles   Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band     Released: 1967   A 41 piece orchestra played on this. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties (false noses, party hats, gorilla-paw glove) to wear, which made it clear this was not going to be a typical session. The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney, who told them to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest. (thanks, Jes - Mason City, IA) "

 http://www.robinfrederick.com/write.html Robin Frederick "Notes on Song  This step-by-step guide will walk you through a simple, creative process for writing lyrics and melodies in all genres of music. You'll learn how to use hit songs as patterns to help you learn exciting new songwriting techniques and give you fresh choices when writing."

http://www.robinfrederick.com/hits.html Robin Frederick "Study the Hits! You can easily keep up to date with the techniques that are being used by today's hit songwriters. Just check out recent hits you like and figure out what makes that song appeal to you. It's an essential skill if you want to write songs that are competitive and expressive, and it's a lot of fun! Hit songs can be full of surprises and can inspire you to try new ideas in your own songs ."

http://www.menc.org/forums/viewtopic.php?id=2469  LoisVGuderian  "writes in  National Education of Music Forum  Since your students will be at many different levels of musical understanding and skill, you might want to give them some options in song writing. However, first you would want to engage them in some whole group activities that would establish some principles about the process and also equip them with some tools for song writing. These activities might be given over a few class periods.

As a priming activity for this age, you could find a good folk, rock or pop song with relatively simple harmonic structure, play a recording of it for your students and ask them if they had ever tried to write their own songs or thought about what the process of song writing might be. After a brief discussion with them, depending on their answers, you could tell your students that during the next few classes you will be engaging in some activities that will take them through the process of composing their own songs.

Following this priming, ask them to name the main parts of a song: text, melody, rhythm of the melody, harmony, meter, etc. Let’s examine some famous songs and how they are put together.

For the following activities, you could give students the option of working in pairs or small groups. I would try to do at least the first two activities on the first day so that after Activity 2 you could give a homework assignment of writing lyrics or finding a poem they would like to set to music. You could do this in class as well.

Activity 1: You could start with a melody contour exercise to “examine the melodic shape” of a famous song. Choose a simple, public domain tune such as Amazing Grace so that you can make copies of the words or melody sheets that you create if need be. Make sure it is a tune that is bound to be in most, if not all of their ears depending on where you live. Have the students draw the shape of the melody on their papers as they are listening to the piece or as they are audiating it in their heads.

Activity 2: Examine the text. Speak it in rhythm and talk about the metric groupings. Experiment with changes in the rhythm of the text or meter and discuss the effects of this on the piece. Each student could do the activity alone or in pairs or small groups, and then each group could sing/play the new rhythm they created for the rest of the class.
Assign lyric/poetry writing and give them the option of finding a public domain poem they can set to music.

Activity 3
Have students speak their chosen or created text and then your directions to the students might be something like what follows:
“Draw the contour of how your voices rise and fall as you speak the text.”
“Try singing a melody with the general contour of what you have written as a contour line or experiment on barred instruments to create a melody for your text. Establish a scale or mode (C major, D Dorian, Pentatonic, etc) or not!” Their choice!
“After you have created a melody that you like, try writing down the pitches. Use the letter names on the barred instruments if you are not sure of how to write the notes on the staff. We can translate this to the symbol system when you are finished.”
“After you have your text and melody, try to determine the rhythm and meter of your melody. To begin, draw lines to show the durations of words and tones. For meter, try clapping the beat of your piece while you speak the rhythm of the words and listen for where you are placing emphasis.”

The students figure out many things on their own when they are working together. They can raise their hands if they need your scaffolding (help). Ask them questions about their work in order to move their learning forward. When they have a finished their songs, class performances and possibly taping them and playing them back for the students is a good way to share their songs and end the song writing unit of study.

Whether or not you will have time to work out harmony for the pieces will drive your approach somewhat. In some approaches to song writing the children are given a particular scale and rhythm and asked to create a tune for that particular rhythm by using each note of the scale only once (Regelski, 2004). This is a building activity on the path of developing musicianship skills for more creative work and this kind of a created tune is usually easier to harmonize. Another way is to teach the I, IV, V and perhaps II and VI chords in conjunction with the major and/or minor scales and have the students learn how to play several folk songs on the autoharp. I also make a big point of how the same chords are used in all of these pieces. In more loosely structured song writing assignments I simply have them experiment with chords of their choosing and tell them to pick the ones that they would like to hear with their melody in their piece!

A few additional skill building activities for song writing that I sometimes use are
1. Create a new tune (experiment in various modes or scales on barred instruments) for an already existing rhythm of a famous song like Jingle Bells or something of the student’s choosing
2. Create a new rhythm or meter for an existing tune

These are just a few ideas. Good luck and have fun song writing with your students. "

 

 

 

 

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