After many end of term/semester interruptions we managed to get our student compositions back on track and record them on video. Kynan Robinson and myself embarked on a student composition unit at the beginning of term 2 with all grade 5 and 6 students. We began the unit by focusing on whole class ensemble performance and composition using the contrasting nature of consonance and dissonance as stimulus. As read and heard in previous posts Dissonance and Consonance, Moving Towards Dissonance, and Diabolical, the students composed some fabulous and interesting melodic ideas.
The second phase of the whole class modeling process was to emphasis the role that each part of the large ensemble played. At North Fitzroy Primary School we are extremely fortunate to be able to run an Ensemble Program during timetabled allotted time. It’s considered to be part of the Extend Your Talents program and students who show a aptitude for music are invited to join. There are 4 ensembles 3, 4, 5, and 6. A lot of the music they learn and perform is written in 4 part ostinatos. Best described as Bass, two harmony parts and main melody and at times we also have untuned percussion. Kynan and I believe that along with starting student composition from an early age, couple this with the ensemble program, our students are completely comfortable with the roles of bass, harmony and melody.
After the whole class modeling process had finished the students were split into small groups no larger the 5. Each group was required to compose a short ostinato based piece that had an A section and a B section (Originally it was planned that a C section would be included but lack of time prevented this from happening). They needed to be mindful of the role of the Bass: Support the harmony and melody rhythmically and ground the piece by maintaining the pulse. Harmony: support and emphasis the main melody but not dominate. Melody: To be the main tune that captured the characteristics of the composition. They could use the concepts of Consonance and Dissonance to contrast the A and B sections but weren’t restricted to this. Untunded percussion could also be included.
I am extremely happy with what has been created considering that each piece was composed over a two one hour session. Clearly had there been more time each piece would have benefited from some finessing. For example; Ending, dynamics and extended rehearsal time for some groups.
Each performance was recorded on three flip cameras and the footage was edited in Final Cut Express. This presented a whole variety of issues which I will dedicate entirely to a separate post.