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Six Norwich Schools 2004, based on textworks by artist Richard Long and composer Gabriel Jackson's response: In The Mendips

Outline of project as worked to by CHROMA group leaders
this was the third visit to these primary schools by CHROMA, thus building on the work of 2002 and 2003.

Helen Sharp [harp]
Clare O’Connell [violoncello]
Stuart King [clarinet]
Marcus Barcham-Stevens [violin]
Emily Davis [violin]
Sarah O’Flynn [flute]

- To allow the children to express themselves in a free way, by thinking about and responding to specific words through music
- To introduce ways of composing – identifying the need for rhythm and notation
- Showing the need for contrast in music – through range, dynamic, texture etc
- To listen to one another and work as a team
- To enable everyone to take part and contribute to the composition and its process as a whole
13.00 - Introductions of group members and instruments, warm-up games
13.20 – Explanation of composition idea – that it is based on a textwork by artist
Richard Long and stemming  from piece by Gabriel Jackson called In The Mendips –
explanation of what Gabriel has done and how we are going to try and do something
similar with the children.
Everyone has copy of Richard Long’s textwork to look at.
Explanation of  how we can generate musical ideas from names – both rhythm
and melody – German system of notation (i.e in addition to A-G, H=B natural and
S=E flat, therefore a letter B=B flat – e.g  BARCHAM-STEVENS=Bflat-A-C-Bnatural-
   Teach everyone opening/closing music (light cloud/dark cloud), which will be  
played by everyone. The notation below can be used by children with instruments
and CHROMA players
(Notation:     G-B-C-D – light cloud  D-A-C-D – dark cloud)
Discuss idea of light music perhaps being high instruments – dark/low
Start work on each school’s section of music – two words per school. Where the
schools are very large we split up into two groups to make it more manageable –
taking a word each. One CHROMA player per group – mix up instruments accordingly
– with a good mixture of acoustic instruments and percussion.
Encourage the children to think of what each word means to them – asking them
about all of the words even ones they are not specifically working on. Encourage
them to come up with little poems of verses to go with each word – these can be
very simple and be repeated as much or as little as you like. Use onomatopoeic
words/sounds in your compositions as well as notes and rhythm. Discuss dynamics
and other contrasts. Each word conjures up a different set of possibilities.
A few guiding thoughts:
Swift – fast music (Eb – F)(semiquavers)    
Scrub – ‘sounds like?’ Low music (Eb-C-Bb)(tremolo/flutter), sul pont?
Bush – scratchy, sharp, higgledy-piggledy? Angular?(Bb-Eb-Bnatural)(leaps?)
Turf – whispery grass? – quiet music? (F)(glissandi,semiquavers?)
Stone – hard, short, small – (Eb –Enatural)(staccato, loud/soft)
Trees – Big, majestic, wide spreading? (E-E-Eb)(long notes, hairpins)
Field – Big, massive, flat/rolling, bare?(F-E-D)(long notes, slowly falling&rising
River – Flowing, fast, gliding (E)(semiquavers, crescendoing?)
Steeple – Tall, high, grand – (Eb-E-E-E)(bells, hymns, solemn)
Sheep Droppings – small, hard, nasty – (Eb-E-E-D-Eb)(short/sharp, low, drops)
Hillside – rolling,low-high,sweeping – (B-Eb-D-E)(scales up and down?)
Gorse – scratchy, sharp, jagged – (G-Eb-E)(loud,scratchy,metallic,jagged?)

14.30 - Reconvene and perform work so far to one another if separate groups or if
not take the opportunity to recap on all the material worked on so far, which will be
expanded and perfected in the next session.
Mark up text row so everyone can see and rehearse how to get from one section
to another – each CHROMA member conducts their group, starting and finishing with
tutti music.
Remind children they need to remember what instrument they are playing – hand
back percussion and generally tidy up. Check if there are any questions.
15.00 - Home-time
Same kind of formula for day one when visiting new schools – games – intro – compose – perform

(Start with games again)
Before recapping the work done in Session 1 – there is another bit of composition
you will need to teach the children. This should be very short and involve everyone
playing or beating something. Each school has a rhythmic and notational signature,
which will start the whole piece off in the concert. This should be played twice. In the
concert it will act as roll call – each school will play their signature to announce their
presence one after the other in order and then we will go straight into the
composition’s first section together.
(The signatures for individual CHROMA members and the schools are on a
different sheet. There are sheets to photocopy and leave at each school if
Spend the rest of the time refining the work begun in Session 1.
The following material needs to be ready:
Signature music
Light Cloud/Dark Cloud music
Music for each word in the row
Make sure each of the musical sections has a clear ending. Remember each word
is a small part in the overall musical composition and it may be played more than
once. Each school’s words may not be situated next to each other in the row so they
need to know when to play and when not to play and when to listen.

13:15 - start concert with a bit of Ravel – or all of it if everyone’s willing
Welcome everyone. Spot anyone they don’t know playing. What do they play etc
etc. Play your signature music and a little demo for your instrument. Go over idea of
the project – see what they can remember?
Practise the school signatures music – one-by-one and then as a musical section
13.35 - Practise cloud music altogether
Listen to each word in the row performed by each school with help of the
Perform the Jackson
Perform the Schools Composition
14.15(ish)     Breathe a collective sigh of relief!

Participating Schools:

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