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Sounds of Music Fall 2010 New York State Coaches Workshop The Competition Each team will build one wind instrument and one percussion instrument. Each instrument must be able to play a12-tone tempered scale. (modern piano scale - octave with incidentals). Shaded piano key is middle C.

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sounds of music

Sounds of Music

Fall 2010

New York State

Coaches Workshop

the competition
The Competition
  • Each team will build one wind instrument and one percussion instrument.
  • Each instrument must be able to play a12-tone tempered scale. (modern piano scale - octave with incidentals).
shaded piano key is middle c
Shaded piano key is middle C.

Instrument 1 is the wind instrument. The range is suited for brass or woodwind instruments including flute, trumpet, pan pipe, recorder, clarinet, French horn, etc.

Instrument 2 is the percussion instrument. The range is suited for almost any percussion instrument, metallaphone, vibraphone, xylophone, marimba, etc.

instrument 1
Instrument 1
  • Brass or woodwind instrument.
  • Must be able to play a C major scale.
  • May use a range in their performance from F3 (F below middle C) to G5 which is 27 notes.
  • Music must be written in treble clef.
instrument 2
Instrument 2
  • Percussion instrument.
  • Must be able to play a G scale
  • May use a range in their performance from C2(two octaves below middle C) to D4( one note above middle C)
  • Music must be written in the bass clef.
setting up
Setting Up
  • Teams have 5 minutes to set up. Instruments should be made so that they can be easily dismantled and put back together.
  • Judging takes place in three parts. It is encouraged that at the regional and state levels judge move from room to room as is done at nationals. Each judge will have approximately 5 minutes to mark their portion of the scoring form.
judging performance
Judging: Performance
  • Each team member will play the required scale and will play the full range of their instrument. Maximum of 6 points.
    • 1 octave - 8 notes 1 point
    • 1 octave - 13 notes 2 points
    • 1.5 octaves - 12 notes 3 points
    • 1.5 octaves - 18 notes 4 points
    • 2 octaves - 16 notes 5 points
    • 2 octaves - 27 notes 6 points
  • Each instrument will also be awarded up to 5 points for sound quality (comparison to actual instrument).
judging performance8
Judging: Performance
  • The two members together must play the required piece, “Shenandoah”, as a duet. They must furnish their music to the judge. They may not just turn in a copy of the rules page. There must be a harmony portion.

10 points.

  • They must also perform a piece that they have chosen or written, also in harmony. This piece should show off the quality of their instruments and the full range, if possible. They must be careful not to play outside of the range. 15 points.
judging performance9
Judging: Performance
  • Each piece is scored using the following criteria:
    • Harmony -avoid unison - shows out of tune notes
    • Rhythm- be careful of syncopation, practice!!
    • Intonation - tone can change whether it is in tune
    • Dynamics - there should be louder and softer portions
    • Duet Quality - is one merely keeping a beat, do both add to the performance?
    • Blend - did they use instruments to compliment each other or does one drown out the other?
    • Other (to be listed)- cleverly chosen music, etc.
judging workmanship
Judging: Workmanship
  • The judge will evaluate the creativity and originality (5 points). Flute vs a reed instrument - reed would get more points. Regular piano vs a typewriter piano - typerwriter is more clever, took more engineering skill (usually).
  • The variety (5 points). One wind, one percussion.
judging workmanship11
Judging: Workmanship
  • All instruments must be made from scratch - no kits.
  • Exception: strings made for instruments - not applicable this year.
  • Judges will look for use of commercial reeds, reed blocks, mouthpieces, etc. which are specifically stated as not being allowed.
  • Interviewing students about the construction is also an important part of this section of judging.
  • Total points for construction is 15.
judging worksmanship
Judging: Worksmanship
  • It is important when building an instrument that all energy come from the student. By blowing through a tube, striking an object or by using a pump operated by hands or feet, the energy must originate from the student.
  • All instruments must move easily through an 80 cm door. Avoid oversized instruments. Low tones don’t necessarily mean big tubes or parts. Have students think about their building materials.
judging knowledge
Judging: Knowledge
  • Students will be asked a number of questions (usually 3, 5, or 6) about their instrument and sound production.
  • 30 points
  • Each student is expected to participate. One student answering all questions will affect the grading negatively.
judging knowledge14
Judging: Knowledge
  • Examples of questions used in the past:
    • How did you tune your instrument?
    • What is your primary vibrator on your wind instrument?
    • What factors can be changed on your wind instrument to ensure that a note is in tune?
    • Describe the Bernoulli effect.
    • What is the mathematical relationship for determining the length of your pipes on your xylophone?
    • Draw, describe, explain a standing wave.
    • Why did you use that building material rather than…
judging knowledge15
Judging: Knowledge
  • The number of questions depends on time.
    • With 50 or 60 teams, 3 questions is about the maximum. However, multiple portions to questions gives the examiner leeway for the variety of instruments. More questions is obviously a better way to judge knowledge. At states and Nationals questions must be chosen very strategically since we typically use only 3.
  • Question difficulty should increase from regional to state to National levels.
    • At a regional students should know the characteristics of a wave. By the state they should be able to describe a standing wave. And at the National they should be able to discuss how the wave is produced in their instrument.
bonus points
Bonus Points
  • Each team will receive 4 points for each of the following:
    • They must furnish music with team name and number on it.
    • They must write their music in the correct clefs and correctly notate it.
    • All music must be played in the correct range.
    • They must use only allowable materials in construction.

Additionally, each team that follows all rules will receive 16 bonus points.

putting together a team
Putting Together a Team
  • You need at least one musician. And once you get that person you will have him or her forever. They think that all they can do is play an instrument, but they suddenly realize they are good at a lot of things. Due to their discipline and passion for music they will stick to it. You are halfway there.
the other team member
The “Other” Team Member
  • You need a good physics student. Most don’t know they are good at physics. You will probably have to invite them. And those that are good in physics don’t realize they are probably good at music. Just look for someone who likes math. Music is based on mathematical relationships and is as much math as it is physics.
okay now about that coach
Okay, Now About that Coach
  • Most of you just groan when it comes to this event. Never worry about Sounds of Music. First of all the kids have to do the research and the building. Just offer them a few websites (coming) or books and be a great cheerleader. If you really don’t want to do it find a tech teacher who is up to the challenge. Building is the tough part. After that it will fall into place. Music teachers will be harder to coerce, but once involved are fabulous.
choosing the instruments
Choosing the Instruments
  • Well, the rules have narrowed that down for you - one wind and one percussion.
  • When the students select their instruments it is a good idea to make sure they know how to play them first.
  • Students frequently want to make an exotic instrument. It is better to go with an instrument that will actually work and is easy to play. Ordinary sometimes works very well and wins more points in the long run.
the instrument is a flop
The Instrument is a Flop!
  • It happens.
  • Our philosophy was that we needed students to go through the process once to see where the problems were.
  • So, keep the building materials cheap in the beginning. When they master the technique and realize it can be better go for more.
  • For instance, a PVC flute is fairly cheap and easy. Copper usually sounds better, but should be the final result ….unless your PVC flute is wonderful.
  • Though a tech room is good, much can be done without the tech room. Simple equipment works fine.
  • Planning is key. Time in a tech room can be reduced by researching, planning, diagramming, and having measurements determined ahead of time. Students don’t realize that planning is very important to good results.
don t worry about originality
Don’t Worry About Originality
  • Though it is a factor. We have reduced the emphasis on originality and creativity. Sometimes you can boost originality simply by changing the material something is made from. A trombone made of PVC is common, but to make it from metal that fits together well is great… and not easy to do.
  • This is very important. We have had instruments fall apart before they are judged. Cardboard gets wet if it rains and is less likely to withstand wear and tear. Use wood or metal. Maybe something can be glued but perhaps it should be welded or put together with screws to make it stronger. Glue does not always hold. Make sure things are put together well.
  • With this event as with any other construction event there is a great deal of tweaking. With xylophones and that family of instruments trying to make sure that the instrument is producing the best sound takes time. This is a huge learning process. Damping is a huge problem and they will have to experiment to find the best way to avoid too much damping or allowing too much reverberation. The kind of materials it is made from also affects the sound considerably. You may need to add resonators if the sound is too soft.
  • “It needs to be done by Christmas”.
  • Christmas come and goes, along with a few other holidays and the days keep passing by at an alarming rate because the instrument isn’t complete.
  • They must finish it in time not only for tweaking, but for practice, practice and more practice. Go over the characteristics of their performance that will be judged with them.
range of the instrument
Range of the Instrument
  • Range is important. A single octave will get you through the event, but going for something more such as the 1.5 octave and 18 notes will give the team more versatility and more points. Limiting your range makes it tough to find music that they enjoy playing and the judges will enjoy hearing.
choosing music
Choosing Music
  • Think about the instruments that are being played.
  • If you have a flute and a xylophone you will not want to choose a heavy classical piece like Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” or a Tchaikovsky piece. Choose something light and airy - Mozart or “California Dreaming”. Keep it light. Choosing a fast-paced tune for a pan pipe or soda bottle instruments can leave the team member ready to collapse before they finish the piece.
what to study
What to Study
  • Waves
    • Transverse
      • with crests and troughs
    • Longitudinal
      • with compressions and rarefactions
what to study30
What to Study
  • Sound Properties
    • Pitch and frequency
    • Intensity and amplitude (Decibel scale)
    • Speed of sound
    • Human perception of hearing and the ear
what to study31
What to Study
  • Behavior of sound waves
    • Interference
    • Beats
    • Doppler Effect
    • Movement around a boundary
    • Reflection, refraction and diffraction
    • Bernoulli Effect
what to study32
What to Study
  • Natural frequency
  • Timbre
  • Forced Vibration (sound box)
  • Standing wave
    • Node - points that appear to stand still due to destructive interference.
    • Antinode
    • Fundametal frequencies and Harmonics
what to study33
What to Study
  • Mathematical calculations of harmonic frequencies and where the nodes are.
  • To properly mount the parts of a marimba, xylophone or other percussion instrument you need to know where the node nearest the end is.
what to study34
What to Study
  • Resonance
  • Closed-end vs opened-end air column instruments
  • Books: Any book by Bart Hopkins, but his Musical Instrument Design: Practical Information for Instrument Design is the best. Available on sale for $12.89 at Amazon. Very thorough. They suggest a couple of others which are okay, but more specific.
  • Website:
    • Excellent powerpoint about wind instruments. Especially informative about bell shape in brass instruments.
    • Mostly about wind instruments. Good illustrations. It is a pdf of a powerpoint. Good reference.
  • Websites:
  • Physics of Sound and Music home page
  • This person has a great sense of humor and offers good explanations as he teaches. Also some good diagrams.
  • Websites:
  • Good information on general physics topics including sound.
  • Good site for general information on music and physics.
  • Websites
  • My favorite. Gives good information to get students started. Will need to go to other sources for specific needs, but this is great for the beginning. Well organized.
  • Patty Sherman
  • I can email a copy of this presentation if you want it.