Teaching and resources for English and Music

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Mediant Studies

Have you ever heard a piece of music and wondered what it is?  Have you ever picked up a piece of printed music, with the cover missing, and wondered who wrote it?

In order to answer questions like this, we have to do what detectives do   -  study the evidence, and ask questions.  The evidence we can study is the elements that go to make up the music.  We’ll be looking at the following:

A.   Melody

B.   Embellishment

C.   Rhythm

D.   Harmony

E.   Structure

F.    Mediaeval texture

G.   Texture since the Renaissance

H.    Performance media

I.      Notation

“The Musical Detective” helps students to analyse scores with a view to commenting on the genre, the forces used, stylistic elements, their historical context, and identification of their origin (period, country, and possibly composer).  This is aimed at Question ii of Section A of the paper, where students have to choose five of ten extracts to comment on. 

The resource has a section of notes, setting out basic knowledge and skills required.  Also included are twenty specimen analyses.  These contain extracts from all periods of music history.  In each, you need to work out when it was written, on which media (voices/instruments) it would have been performed, and (where possible) who wrote it. Look at each extract, and study the evidence (as listed in the headings above).  There are suggestions of questions you could ask in order to help you detect the date, media and composer.  In early assignments, help is given in “looking for clues”, while in later assignments you need to find most of the “clues” yourself.  The source is named at the bottom on the page, so if you have trouble identifying it, you can work “backwards”, searching for hallmarks of the style of the composer or “school” in the extract.

"Thank you for the last lot of assignments - so kind of you to mark them so quickly even though you are so busy!  I enclose these ones but will try to scan the actual detective ones.  I can't wait to do them although I must try not to look at the answers first!!  I will try to learn how to scan them so it would be quicker!  Don't worry about marking them quickly - I really don't mind waiting as I am enjoying all the other stuff!" Weston-Super-Mare, United Kingdom, March 2010

There is also a time line, listing the various musical movements, instruments played and styles of music written in each century.  There are gaps for you to fill in.

Download a sample as a PDF file.

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"I got all 20 printed off.  They are excellent."    Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, May 2015.


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