Category Archives: Lesson Plan

November 2014: “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic

Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7

 

OBJECTIVES

  • Perceive and analyze artistic work
  • Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
  • Organize and develop artistic ideas and work
  • Refine and complete artistic work
  • Develop and refine artistic work for presentation

 

MATERIALS

  • CD (November 2014)
  • Piano or other classroom instrument

 

Play “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic (CD track 1)

Ask the students some questions to help them analyze the song.

 

ASK

What is the key signature? (G major.)

What are the different sections? (Intro, verse, chorus, bridge.)

All they all the same length? (All are 16 measures long except the intro, which is eight measures long.)

Does the chord progression behave differently in each section? (No, it’s the same throughout.)

What’s the harmonic rhythm—the rate at which the chords change? (Every four bars.)

If the music is so simple, then why doesn’t the song get boring? (Probably the biggest reason is the deft wordplay.)

Help students work on singing chromatic lower neighbors:

  • Play a random pair of notes on the piano—a major second apart melodically— and have the students sing the pitches.
  • Play the same pair again, but with the lower note situated a half step higher, then have the students sing the pair back to you.
  • Explain to the students that they’ve just sung a chromatic lower neighbor.
  • Repeat the whole process a handful of times.

 

 

CLOSE

  1. Using “Word Crimes” as an example, ask the students to come up with their own parodies of the pop songs of their choosing. If you can, help suggest topics that they can use in rewriting the lyrics that will tie into things they’re currently studying in other classes. Collect the students’ work, and if they’re amenable, have them sing their work before the class.

 

ASSESS

Did the students analyze the song with you?

Did they sing the song together?

Did they parody a popular song?

 

November 2014: Old School Records

Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 7, 8, 9, and 11

OBJECTIVES

  • Perceive and analyze artistic work
  • Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work
  • Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work
  • Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context
  • Learn about the history of recording

MATERIALS
CD (November 2014)

Have the students read about the history of vinyl recordings and the renewed interest in the format.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl_revival

1. Play “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. (CD track 2).

ASK
What time signature is this in? (4/4.)
Does it start in a major or minor key? (C major.)
The pitched drum sound that comes in at around 0:03 contains two notes. If the higher one is E, then what’s the lower one? (C.)
What interval is this? (A major third.)
When the bass sounds kick in at around 0:22, what interval is heard between the successive notes? (A perfect octave.)
What note value is this bass line based on? (Eighth note.)
Can anyone say what happens to the key of the song at around 1:58? (Changes to C minor, with a C natural minor melody and a Cm7 chord on the guitar.)
When do you think this was recorded? (Late 1970s, specifically 1979.)
Based on your reading, in what format do you think it was available as a single? (12-inch single, on account of the length.)

2. Play “Blue Monday” by New Order

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYH8DsU2WCk

ASK
What time signature is this in? (4/4.)
Which beats are emphasized? (Beats 2 and 4.)
What about the key signature? (D minor.)
Do the drums sound like a regular acoustic set or a drum machine? (The latter.)
Do the lead vocals sound electronically processed or pure? (The former.)
If you had to guess, are the vocals at 1:35 a live choir recorded for the song? (No, this is a sample.)
Do you hear any “real” instruments? (Yes, a little guitar.)
This single was referenced in the article as the all-time biggest-selling 12-inch single in Britain. Can you name it? (New Order’s “Blue Monday.”)

Play “2 Bit Blues” by Kid Koala (CD track 3).

ASK
What’s the time signature? (4/4.)
Can anyone describe the rhythmic feel? (It’s got a swing feel, in which pairs of consecutive eighth notes are played not evenly but long-short.)
Is this piece in a major or minor key signature? (Major—F major.)
How would you describe the harmony? (It’s essentially static: one big F7 chord.)
At around 0:22, there’s an example of a DJ technique described in the article. Can anyone name it? (Scratching.)
This selection was recorded by a modern turntablist mentioned in the article. What’s his name? (Kid Koala.)

CLOSE

Have the students compare these works stylistically. Each was recorded in an era when vinyl records were

ASSESS

Did they discuss the listening selections?
Did they complete their essays and discuss them?

November 2014: The Music of Madagascar

Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11

OBJECTIVES

Learn about the music and culture of Madagascar, and understand how history and geography have contributed to the development of its distinctive modern music.

Analyze the rhythmic structure and vocal arrangement ideas in two contemporary Madagascar pop songs

Try to recreate the complex 12/8 time used in Malagasy music (Pr5)

 

MATERIALS

CD (November 2014)

A globe or map of the world. Google maps link:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Madagascar/@2.415186,66.3478678,4z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x21d1a4e3ea238545:0x5244e3c1977b1388

 

START

Find Madagascar on the map.

Read (or have students read) a brief history of the music of Madagascar:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Madagascar

Focus on two musical styles: salegy and tsapiky

ASK

What are the key differences between salegy and tsapiky? (Salegy is older, from the north, and in 12/8 time; tsapiky younger, from the south, and in 4/4 time.)

 Play Jaojoby’s “Somaiko Somainao”

(CD track 5 with video linked below).

Consider the way the song’s rhythm unfolds. When the bass drum comes in at 0:28, count the song out in 4/4 time. Then notice what happens when the band comes in at 0:48. A strong triplet feel is established—1-and-ah, 2-and-ah, 3-and-ah, 4-and-ah—the signature beat of salegy music. Notice also the way the two different guitar parts interlock to create a rhythmic and melodic texture. That kind of interplay is a common feature of modern African music.

Play Damily’s “Nahoda” (CD track 4).

Notice that it is in a clear 4/4 time—no triplets. However, the bass drum does not play the straight four beats. Rather, it plays a three-beat, syncopated pattern that repeats twice in each four-beat measure. Between the bass guitar and the bass drum, the 4/4 time feel is established, even though neither one is playing it directly. No wonder outsiders find Malagsy rhythms challenging to master!

Comparison:

Compare the vocal arrangements in the previous two songs. Both involve a lead voice (harmonized in the Jaojoby track) with other singers responding. This is known as “call and response.” But each song uses a different approach. The Jaojoby track is more predictable and organized—like a pop song. In the Damily track, the male and female voices intertwine, and there are spoken passages that feel improvised, reflecting the fact that this comes out of social occasions, where interaction with the public is a key ingredient.

Play D’Gary’s “Lamba Flanelle” (CD track 6).

Notice how intricate the rhythmic phrasing of the guitar and the percussion instrument (katsa) is. After 1:28 the song settles into a fast triplet feel. At this rapid speed, it is difficult to analyze. So let’s slow it down.

Using voices and hand-clapping, have the whole class clap out a slow 4/4 beat—the downbeat. Then have them speak a triplet feel, with the first beat coinciding with their claps: ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, etc. Now, keeping the claps steady, change the accentuation by having the class speak the second beat of the triplet louder: one-TWO-three, one-TWO-three, etc. That feeling of accenting a beat that does not fall on the downbeat, but just after it, is a common characteristic of Malagasy music.

CLOSE

If you find the rhythms in this music challenging, that’s no surprise. There is a lot of Africa in the American music we all grew up with—especially blues, rock, funk, jazz, and hip-hop. But the Africans who contributed to the development of those sounds mostly came from West Africa. Madagascar, due to its affinities with east Africa and southeast Asia, reveals a different kind of rhythmic sensibility, less familiar to our ears. More proof that music encodes the histories of people, everywhere in the world.

October 2014: Marching Band Comparison

Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8

 Objectives

  • Perceive, analyze, and interpret intent in artistic work
  • Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
  • Organize and develop artistic ideas and work
  • Develop, refine, and complete artistic work for presentation

Materials

October 2014 Bonus CD

Optional: Marching Music by Rich Breske

Piano and classroom instruments

 1: Play the Florida State University Marching Band’s “Notre Dame Victory March” (CD track 5).

 

ASK

What time signature is this in? (2/2 or cut time—two half notes per bar.)

Is the key signature minor or major? (Ef major.)

Why do you think it’s in a flat key? (Flat keys are horn-friendly.)

In the beginning, is the texture primarily homophonic, with all the instruments harmonizing the melody in the same note values, or polyphonic, with lines that have independent melodies and rhythms? (Homophonic.)

Which of these textures best describes the music beginning at around 0:07? (Polyphonic.)

What mood does the piece evoke? (Jubilant, etc.)

The piece is titled “Notre Dame Victory March.” In the context of marching music, what’s significant about Notre Dame? (Its marching band is the oldest continuously running American college band.)

 2: Play the Florida State University Marching Band’s “Fight On March” (CD track 6).

 

ASK

What time signature is this in? (4/4.)

Is the key signature minor or major? (F major.)

Can anyone say how far apart the roots of the first three chords are? (Minor thirds.)

What kind of melodic technique, heard often in jazz and blues, is happening around 0:07? (Call and response: One group states a melody and another answers.)

What happens to the music at around 0:43? (It modulates to the key of A-flat, giving the music an emotional lift.)

3: Play the Florida State University Marching Band’s “Hold That Tiger” (CD track 7).

 

ASK

What’s the time signature? (4/4.)

And the key signature? (B-flat major.)

Why do you think all these pieces are in major keys? (Major produces an appropriately festive sound, etc.)

Throughout, is the music of this piece homophonic or polyphonic? (The latter.)

Can anyone identify the type of chord heard at the very end of the piece? (This is a sixth chord—a major triad with an added sixth, in this case a B-flat triad [B-flat–D–F] with a G. Play this chord on the piano to demonstrate.)

4. Play Ohio State’s Trubute to Michael Jackson

ASK

How is this does repertoire differ from the tracks on the CD? (It’s an interpretation of popular music.)

Does seeing the band move alter your interpretation of what you’re hearing? (Open discussion)

 

 ASSESS

  • Were they engaged in discussing the listening selections?
  • Were the students able to identify the elements in each song?

 

 

 

 

 

October 2014: The Music of Texas

Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 7, 9, and 11

 OBJECTIVES

Perceive and analyze artistic work

Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work

Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context

MATERIALS

CD (October 2014)

Music Alive! Classroom Worksheet 1: Pitch and Melody (download at musicalive.com/resources/mahandouts.php)

Piano or keyboard

 

  1. Play “New San Antonio Rose” by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (CD track 2).

 

ASK

What time signature is this tune in? (4/4.)

Does it start off in a major or minor key? (D major.)

What instruments do you hear? (Brass, woodwinds, bass, drums, guitar, piano.)

Can anyone describe the rhythmic feel? (Swing, with pairs of consecutive eighth notes.)

So what style of music is this? (Western swing.)

Which elements of the song hint at a Mexican influence? (The trumpets with their lines harmonized in thirds.)

Which elements suggest a jazz influence? (The rhythmic feel.)

Based on your reading, can you identify the group? (Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys.)

What happens to the music at around 0:45? (It modulates to a new key, Af major.)

 

  1. Play “Call It Stormy Monday” by T-Bone Walker (CD track 3).

 

ASK

What time signature is this tune in? (4/4.)

Is it in a major or minor key? (G major.)

Name the I, IV, and V chords in this key. (G, C, D. You might also have students identify each chord as they’re listening to the song.)

What instruments do you hear? (Saxophone, muted trumpet, piano, bass, drums, electric guitar.)

What style of music is this? (Blues.)

In which part of Texas did a lot of blues originate? (Dallas.)

 

  1. Play “Beautiful Texas” by Willie Nelson (CD track 4).

 

ASK

What time signature is this tune in? (3/4, or waltz time.)

Is it in a major or minor key? (E major.)

What instruments do you hear? (Upright bass, drums, pedal steel [explain what this instrument is, and point out where it’s heard on the recording], guitar.)

In most measures, on which beat is the bass picked? (Beat 1 only, but it plays on all three beats when transitioning between certain phrases.)

What is the basic rhythmic pattern on the snare drum? (Quarter notes on beats 1 and 3 and a pair of eighths on beat 2.)

What style of music is this? (Country.)

Based on your reading, can you identify the artist? (Willie Nelson.)

 

CLOSE

Hand out copies of the Pitch and Melody worksheet. Then play Texas’ official state song, “Texas, Our Texas.”

 

After that, play the first eight bars of the melody on the piano, using the notation below. Repeat as many times as needed while the students fill in the worksheet.

 

ASSESS

Were the students engaged in discussing the three listening selections?

Did they complete the Pitch and Melody worksheet?

 

 

 

 

 

October 2014 Bonus CD: “Rude” by MAGIC!

“Rude” by MAGIC!

Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7

OBJECTIVES

Perceive and analyze artistic work (Pr4, Re7)

Organize and develop artistic ideas and work (Cr2)

Develop and refine artistic work for presentation (Cr3, Pr5)

 

MATERIALS

Music Alive! Classroom Worksheet 12: Staff Paper (download at musicalive.com/resources/mahandouts.php)

Piano or keyboard, classroom keyboards or other instruments 

START: Play “Rude” by Magic! (either the soundalike version on CD track 1 or the original version:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIh2xe4jnpk

 DEVELOP: Guide the students through the song with a series of questions and answers

ASK

What’s the key signature? (D-flat major.)

What beat does the melody start on? (Beat 3.)

What are the longest and shortest note values here? (Half note; 16th.)

What are the lowest and highest notes? (The F just above middle C; the Af above the staff.)

The song’s main chord progression is G-flat–A-flat–D-flat–B-flat minor. Can anyone identify the harmonic functions of these chords? (IV–V–I–vi.)

Help students with the song’s potentially toughest rhythm, the quarter-note triplet.

  • Without using any notes, have students count in a steady stream of eighth-note triplets: “Trip-uh-let, trip-uh-let, trip-uh-let, trip-uh-let.”
  • Have students place emphasis on every other syllable: “Trip-uh-let, trip-uh-let, trip-uh-let, trip-uh-let.”
  • Take away the non-emphasized syllables: “Trip, let, uh, trip, let, uh.”
  • Have the students tap the rhythms in the verse before singing the section slowly.
  1. Now work on the pre-chorus and chorus, focusing on the trickier spots (for example, the interval between the last note in bar 1 of the chorus and the first note in the following measure—a descending perfect fifth).
  2. Have the class sing the entire song.

 

CLOSE

  1. Hand out copies of the staff paper and then, on the piano, guitar, or other harmonic instrument, play a basic reggae accompaniment in a repeating one-bar pattern. Have the students transcribe this—the rhythms only. Next, have them write short compositions using these rhythms. Finally, have them take turns playing their pieces on classroom instruments.

 

ASSESS

Did the students respond to questions about the song’s elements?

Were they engaged in breaking down its rhythms?

Did they sing the song together?

Did they complete their transcriptional and compositional exercise?