- To play a short piece by Mozart on the piano/keyboard.
- To compose a piece in the style of Mozart.
- To find out about his life and work, and place him in a historical context.
- SP2/C4 – learning about one of the most important musicians to ever live, and his influence on our culture and music.
- SP5 – taking inspiration from Mozart to compose your own music.
Who was Mozart?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is surely one of the three best-known classical composers (I mean of all classical music and not just the Classical period). His short and often chaotic life has been the source of much fascination for years.
The Mozart Project Chronology is a good starting point to place his life in historical context.
The BBC Radio 3 Mozart page has a brief biography.
This Classic FM short guide sums him up quite well too, in a slightly silly manner!
Other pieces by Mozart
Here are some examples of Mozart’s music. First we have a piano concerto – a concerto is a piece for a soloist, in this case a piano, with an orchestra providing accompaniment:
And here is a movement from his Gran Partitia for 13 instruments. Some of the instruments in the video might look a little odd – this is because they are examples of what these instruments looked like when Mozart composed this piece in the 1780s. See if you can work out what they all are:
Learning to play Mozart’s minuet
We are going to learn how to play this short minuet by Mozart, which he wrote when he was only four years old. You can listen to the piece by playing the video below, and it should also help you to support your learning.
How to prepare yourself for performance in class
To complete this work, you will need your Skills List, your copy of the Mozart piece, and a picture of the piano keyboard. If you can remember how to switch on the metronome so it ticks 3 beats in a bar, then you could do this too.
- Remember what you can already play. Refer to your Skills List (saved as a Word doc), and play it again – spend five minutes doing this.
- Tell your neighbour the first new section of music you are going to try. Are you trying it hands separately or together? Give yourself five minutes on this.
- If you are struggling with any new bits, remember to slow down and practice just the bit you are stuck on.
- Once you’ve practiced for five minutes, get a neighbour to check you’re playing the right notes, and watch/listen to you.
- Repeat 2, 3 and 4 again. Don’t give up.
If this is the last lesson of practice before you perform, make sure that you spend the last fifteen minutes of the lesson trying to put your whole performance together. When you are doing this, you have to practice a bit differently. Try not to stop when you make a mistake, and keep going at this point.
What happens if I can’t play it all hands together?
If you can’t then don’t worry. Start hands together, and then drop the left hand out when you can’t keep it going. I expect everyone to be able to play all of the right hand (remember that the last line is the same as the first four bars).
Everyone will perform this short piece to the rest of the class. Remember that you will be assessed for accuracy of rhythm and pitch, as well as the fluency of your playing.
Composing in the style of Mozart
Once we’ve completed our Mozart performance, we are going to try and compose a minuet in the same style as Mozart. To do this successfully, you must think about the following questions:
- How many bars does Mozart’s minuet have?
- Is there a set structure to the piece?
- Is there a regular phrase pattern to the piece?
- Is there an obvious key note/tonic used in the piece?
- Are there rhythm patterns that are repeated in both hands?
- Are there any melodies within the piece that you hear several times in the right hand?
- Is the left hand part an equal partner to the right, or a simple accompaniment?
- Is there a relationship between the right and left hand that means the two hands fit together?
The idea is that we are going to write a pastiche composition – deliberately copying the style (but not the exact notes) of Mozart’s piece.
Other things to consider, which will improve the quality of the music that you compose:
- Writing a melody which flows nicely, moves mainly by step, with a few controlled leaps.
- Thinking carefully about how the right hand and left hand parts fit together.
We are going to use Sibelius to compose this piece, and you can click on one of the links below to open a template which will allow you to start working on your piece.
Now watch the two videos below to support your composition. The first explains the excellent features of a Level 9 composition, whilst the second shows the positve areas, and where there is room for improvement of a Level 6 composition:
- To listen to and understand the main features of a club dance song.
- To think about the influence of technology on music and the music industry.
- To compose a song in a club dance style.
- C4 – appreciation of the different styles of Club Dance music from the 1970s onwards, and how they influence modern-day remixes.
- SP5 – creating an interesting remix needs creative thinking to ensure that it has the right balance between originality and reusing existing material.
The beginnings of Club Dance
As always when developing a new musical style, club dance evolved gradually from a number of different influences. These include Jamaican dub and funk. The development of music software within recording studios also played a big part.
The BBC Bitesize pages found here are a good source of information to begin with. Watch the technology video found at the bottom of the page.
What technology is used in a modern Club Dance song?
Well, there is a huge range of hardware and software, that you can use, but the most common are samplers, drum machines, synthesisers/keyboards.
Jean Michel Jarre
‘Who is he?’ you may well ask! He isn’t a modern club dance artist, but I guess that many of you need less of an introduction to modern artists. Jean Michel Jarre is a pioneer of European club dance music in the 1970s and 1980s, and he also helped to establish the place of huge live gigs with amazing light shows.
Our Practical Task
You are going to do your own remix version of Adele’s Skyfall.
To get an idea of the different styles of remix you could do, you must firstly listen to them:
Also, I think that the start of this Uptown Funk remix is a great one to listen to because they layers build gradually:
Then we need to examine how you can use Cubase to produce your own version.
Before you start out
You need to listen to the original song and make some key decisions before you start. As you can hear from the versions above, they choose different aspects of the song to focus on, and don’t necessarily include every section or idea from the original version. The musical ideas are often simplified too, making it easier for you to produce your own version.
You must think about the following choices now, before you start:
- Are you going to include every section from the original song?
- Can you work out the basic musical patterns in the song, and think about which ones you want to use?
1a – Tempo and drum beat (basic)
Adele’s version is at 75 bpm (beats per minute), so you’ve a choice – either to keep the tempo at this speed, and produce something laid back, or to double the beat to 150 bpm. Watch the training video to help you produce your drum beat.
1b – Fills and further detail (more advanced)
Adding in little details, like drum fills is the difference between a simple and a detailed remix. Watch the tutorial below for further help.
2 – Adding the chords and bass
This is where your keyboard skills come in. Using the chord patterns below, you are going to record in live to Cubase the chord pattern(s) you wish to use. Here are the patterns – they are also printed in your workbooks too. You may notice that there are four different chord patterns available. Everyone will need to use pattern A, but if you can use the other three patterns, this will make your remix more interesting and give you a better chance of a higher level:
- To understand how music and art are linked in the C20th and C21st.
- To study and understand the main musical features of minimalism.
- To compose a short minimalist composition, which is based on the main musical features of the style.
- SP2/5 and C4 – developing understanding of the cultural influences of minimalist art and music, and how we take creative inspiration from it.
Minimalism, a style developed in the US after the 2nd World War, combines three different musical styles together:
- The music is tonal – it has a key signature and a tonic or key note (from Western Europe)
- Some of the melodic ideas are influenced by Gamelan music from Indonesia (see first example below)
- The rhythmic style and combination of parts is heavily influenced by African drumming (see second example below)
Also, think about these two pieces and how they might have influenced this video below:
There are three basic techniques used in the composition of most minimalist music:
- Looping – ideas are repeated or looped over and over again
- Layering – instrumental parts are build up on top of each other
- Phase shifting – ideas shift in and out of time with each other
These three techniques are used to allow the music to develop gradually over a long period of time. Often minimalist pieces are incredibly long and seemingly very repetitive. Many of them use lots of percussion instruments (see box below).
Looping, Layering and Phase shifting in more detail
These three techniques are explored throughout all of minimalism, by composers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Riley’s In C, uses lots of ostinatos (short musical ideas) on after another, which can be played by any number of different instruments any number of times – all you have to do is move through them in order. This is a classic example of layering. Also, think what this means for each individual performance of the music…
Steve Reich’s Six Pianos (listen using Grooveshark), uses a series of short ostinatos which are repeated over and over again, with subtle and gradual alteration to them. This continues unbroken for the whole piece, about 25 minutes of it! This is a classic example of looping.
Steve Reich also composed a piece called Clapping Music (listen below), which explores phasing.
The two performers clap exactly the same 12 quaver ostinato, twelve times over. They repeat the pattern again another twelve times, only this time, one performer starts the pattern a quaver before the other, phasing their pattern out of time with the other performer. After twelve more repeats of this, the same process is repeated again. What is going to happen to the pattern eventually if they keep going through this process? Classic phasing…
Try your own phasing performance with a partner, using this football chant rhythm. Watch the video below, and pay particular attention to the red rests, if you can’t get it spot on. I am not going to give you any more information – you’ve got to suss it out for yourselves… Football Clapping Performance:
There is a lot of minimalist music to explore, all of which you can listen to in the Grooveshark playlist for minimalism. Not all minimalism is percussion-based – try John Adam’s Short Ride on a Fast Machine to hear a full orchestral minimalist piece.
Minimalism also has a more lyrical, less rhythmically driven side to it too. Try either piece by John Tavener (an English composer) – The Lamb is a famous Christmas carol, and Song for Athene was one of the pieces performed at Princess Diana’s funeral. Both sound beautiful and calm, but when you really listen and examine them, they are really simple pieces.
Minimalism has also played an important part in film music.
- Try Glider, from The Thomas Crown Affair, a film about art theft from the 1960s starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunnaway, and remade in 1999 with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. The music makes excellent use of additive melody, and suits the character Thomas Crown, who lives a restless and fast-paced life.
- Philip Glass has written in many different genres, including opera. The piece here is taken from the film The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman amongst others, about Virginia Woolf, an English author who committed suicide in 1941. Glass’ music can be very long and drawn out.
There is much more to explore – get listening!
You can choose – Sibelius or Cubase. We are going to create a series of short ostinatos and loop and layer them on top of each other. Watch the tutorial video below for ideas using the software that you choose to work with.
- to better understand the purpose of practicing a musical instrument
- to give a ‘public performance’ of a short piece of music
- to enhance your ability to read music and understand detail in a musical score, such as dynamics and other performance expression marks
- C2 – pupils demonstrate their new skills in a public fashion to each other in a structured class environment
- SP5 – pupils demonstrate their improved performance skills
Are you ‘up’ for the keyboard challenge?
Your challenge is to try and learn to play as much of a keyboard piece in one lesson as you possibly can. Push yourself hard and see how you get on.
How to take the challenge
- Pick one of the pieces below: easy, medium, difficult, which suits the level that you are working at. You have to log onto SharePoint to open the file. Click ‘ok’ or ‘accept’ to any pop-ups that appear when you open the pdf.
- Listen to the audio file of the piece you’ve picked. This will give you an idea of what it sounds like. You will need headphones in the PC to hear this.
- Try to practice the piece. You will need headphones in the back of the keyboard for this. Start with the right hand, and try and play the tune. When reading the letters and finding where you hand goes on the keyboard, remember if you move right on the keyboard, you are going higher in pitch. If you move left on the keyboard, you are going lower in pitch.
- If you are stuck, ask a neighbour for help. Between you, you should be able to work out what you are doing. Listen again to the audio file to remind yourself of what it sounds like.
- Once you can play a line, add the left hand. Try the left hand on its own. The left hand notes need holding down for longer than the right hand. Then try hands together.
- Get a neighbour to listen to what you are doing, and try and spot any mistakes. They can help you try and put your performance right.
- If you finish the piece you are playing, then try another one! Enjoy!
Music – headphones in keyboard
- Beginner piece – Bedford Square Blues
- Medium piece – Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
- Difficult piece – James Bond Theme
Audio – headphones in PC
- Beginner piece – Bedford Square Blues
- Medium piece – Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
- Difficult piece – James Bond Theme
Below is the Year 9 music exam knowledge organiser. Use it wisely!