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Musique concrète at secondary school: Asking the ‘right’ questions. Anna-Marie Higgins PhD Student (Education) Cambridge University. Context. Musique Concrète Meaning Aesthetic field (Abbs, 1987). ‘Instrumental’ techniques? Filtering sounds Adding reverb, delay, echo

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musique concr te at secondary school asking the right questions

Musique concrète at secondary school: Asking the ‘right’ questions

Anna-Marie Higgins

PhD Student (Education)

Cambridge University

context
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
  • analyse and respond

meaningfully to it

  • create music
slide3

Secondary School Listening

“… understand, identify and describe the range of musical features”

“recognise musical styles; place music in its historical context”

  • Musical Concepts
  • Predictability
  • Score
  • ‘Deeper’ than ‘Naïve’ listening

“make comparative judgements about music”

“evaluate interpretation and performance in the light of experience already attained”

“analyse and describe patterns of

repetition and change…”

slide4

Listening to Musique Concrète

“… understand, identify and describe the range of musical features”

  • Musical Concepts?
  • Predictability?
  • Score?
  • Deeper than Naïve listening?

“make comparative judgements about music”

“analyse and describe patterns of

repetition and change…”

slide5

Research Question

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

slide6

Something to hold on to

  • What might this piece be about?
  • What sounds did you recognise in the composition?
  • If you heard sounds that were strange… describe them.
  • Did the composition conjure images in your mind?
  • Did the composition suggest a narrative?
  • Did the composition seem to convey any emotion?
  • What aspects did you find most engaging in the composition?
  • What aspects did you find least engaging in the composition?
  • Did the composition make you want to keep listening or was it uninteresting?
  • Would you listen to a similar type of composition again in the future?
  • The ‘something-to-hold-on-to’ factor (Landy,1994)
  • Intention-Reception Project (Weale, 2006)
slide7

Methods

  • 3 groups of Transition Year students
  • Similar school setting
  • Listening to four pieces; following the waveform on an

audio editor; using a printout of the waveform

  • Group 1 – Open
  • Group 2 – Open and Closed
  • Group 3 – Closed
  • Post-listening group interview
slide8

Four Pieces

  • Dripsody
  • Under the Green Time
  • The Idea and its Shadow
  • Something Quite Atrocious
slide9

Group 1

  • Explain the title in relation to this piece.
  • Describe the sounds that you hear in this piece.
  • What musical elements can you hear?
  • What do you like and what do you dislike in this piece?
  • What would help you to understand this piece more?
slide10

Sections?

Indifferent

Group 1

  • Dynamics
  • Repetition
  • Rhythm
  • Accompaniment
  • Tempo
  • Pitch
  • Variety of sounds
  • Variation of a sound
  • Irish tune
  • Blending
slide11

Group 2

  • Explain the title by referring to one detail in the piece.
  • Divide the waveform into different musical sections. Label these 1, 2, 3. Say how these sections differ from each other.
  • What is the most interesting aspect of this piece, in your opinion?
  • Write down two questions that you would like to ask the composer about this piece.
slide12

Were you on medication when you composed this?

Engaged

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?

slide13
- repeat of earlier idea

- contrast with earlier idea

- the climax of the piece

- an unexpected idea

  • Divide the waveform into sections and label them 1, 2 (3, 4, 5)
  • Mark an example of each of the following on the waveform:
  • 3.What is the structure?
  • rABA rAB rABCA rABCDE rother _________
  • 4. What aspect of the piece kept your attention?

- rhythmical idea

- melodic idea

- soft

- loud

- fast

- slow

- silence

- layer of sounds

Group 3

slide14

Confident opinions

Group 3

Terminology used in follow-up discussion.

The idea of background and foreground.

Positive and Inquiring

“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.”

slide15

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.
slide16

Thank you for attending this presentation

Anna-Marie Higgins amh83@cam.ac.uk

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