Monday, April 20, 2015

Next Composition Assignment: Influenced by Art

This week we are going to see the works of painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. You can read about his background here. AND In this article you can read about some of the musicians he influenced.


You are going to create a piece of music based on a work of art.

Steps to the Assignment

1. Pick a work of art. Here are some websites where you can see famous paintings:

Once you have chosen your work of art, email Ms. Simmons to let her know. Do this by Tuesday, April 21st.

2. Think about the painting you've chosen, and how you intend to capture it in music. Write a one-paragraph proposal explaining what the important features of the painting are, and how you intend to capture them in music. Do this by Wednesday, April 23rd.

3. Write your piece! It can be any style/genre you like, as long as it captures your work of art and is at least 2 minutes long. Do this by Thursday, April 30th.

So to summarize:
Selection of work of art due Tuesday, April 21st
One-paragraph proposal due Thursday, April 23rd
Share your piece with the class Thursday, April 30th

Monday, April 13, 2015

NEW: Listening Portfolio #3: Medieval and Renaissance Era

We are going to listen to pieces that prepare us to talk about these eras in music history. Your job:
  1.  Pick 3 (THREE) of the following pieces and 1 (ONE) of your choice.
  2. Listen to them. For the pieces below, visit (see Ms. Simmons for password) or find a version on YouTube.
  3. Write a paragraph (250-300 words) response to EACH piece.
In writing your response, consider the questions of the Critical Analysis Process:

Initial Reaction
  • What is your first impression of the music?
  • What does it remind you of?
  • What is your emotional reaction?
  • What puzzles you about this music? Do you have any questions?
  • Can you make any personal connections to it?
  • rhythm - speed?
  • melody - improvisation?
  • harmony - major/minor?
  • texture - layers?
  • form - how is organized?
  • dynamics - loud, soft?
  • timbre - the instruments used?
  • other comments on the feel, mood or affect of the piece
Listening Portfolio Playlist #3: Medieval and Renaissance Era
  1. Hildegard von Bingen - Veni Creator Spiritus
  2. Leonin - organum duplum
  3. Perotin - Sederunt Principes
  4. Victoria - O Magnum Mysterium
  5. Giovanni Palestrina - Missa Papae Marcelli "Gloria"
  6. Orlando di Lasso - Matona Mia Caro
  7. Thomas Morley - Now is the Month of Maying
  8. Guillaume de Machaut - Puis qu'en oubli
  9. Praetorius - Bransle
  10. one piece of your choice, from the Medieval or Renaissance Era

These will be due emailed to by Friday April 17.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Next Composition Assignment: PLAYING WITH TEXTURE


Ms. Simmons will teach (!) a lesson on texture.

For reference, consult this Resource for Guidelines About Texture (definitions, etc):

Steps to the Assignment:

  1. Write a MONOPHONIC melodic line at least 8 bars long, in C major or A minor. Start and end on the tonic/keynote.
  2. Record this as a track in a GarageBand file. Call it “textureyourlastname”.
  3. Write a POLYPHONIC counter-melody underneath your MONOPHONIC track. It should “fit” harmonically with your given melody - containing notes from similar chords. Total at least 8 bars.
  4. Record this as a 2nd track in your GarageBand file. Copy your melody and have it go a 2nd time with the POLYPHONIC part under.
  5. Write a HOMOPHONIC accompaniment part underneath your MONOPHONIC track. Use chords we have learned. Try to use mostly 2 chords per bar. Total at least 8 bars.
  6. Record this as a 3rd track in your GarageBand file. Copy your melody a 3rd time and have it go a 3rd time with the HOMOPHONIC part under.
  7. Make sure you properly complete a WRITTEN VERSION of the MONOPHONIC, POLYPHONIC and HOMOPHONIC parts. Ms. Simmons can help you with this.
By Fri April 10 → have written/recorded your melody
By Tues April 14 → have written/recorded your POLYPHONIC counter-melody
By Thurs April 16 → have written/recorded your HOMOPHONIC chords
By Fri April 17 → final version of all three ready for performance

All of the above, plus an additional second POLYPHONIC COUNTER-MELODY.
SO: One melody, two POLYPHONIC counter-melodies, one HOMOPHONIC chord part.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Reading Reflection #3: The Medieval and Renaissance Eras

Our studies are going to shift to start looking at music history (fun!) so we're going to start by reading about the Medieval and Renaissance Eras.

Read all or some of the following websites:
Once you've read and watched and learned a bit, write a 200-300 word (1 page single spaced) reflection, addressing some if not all of the following questions:
  • What are the main features of music in the Medieval Era?
  • Who were the main figures of music in the Medieval Era?
  • What are some of the major changes or developments that happened from the Medieval Era in to the Renaissance Era?
  • Who were the main figures of music in the Renaissance Era?
  • Overall, how did music evolve through these two eras?
  • What features of Medieval or Renaissance Era can we hear in music today?
Email your completed reflection on or before Friday April 10th to

Second Year Students: Critical Analysis #2 - Renaissance Era

Some of the most critical evolutions in the history of music occurred in this era - polyphony, tonality and the independence of composers, to name a few.

The Task:
Listening: Pick 5 (five) important pieces of music from the Renaissance Era. You may need to do some research to figure out which were the most important pieces.

Writing: For each piece, write a four-paragraph analysis documenting the following:
1. Who wrote the piece, when, and why it was important to the Renaissance Era.
2. Analysis of the piece according to the Elements of Music.
3. Your personal reflections on the piece (like a Listening Journal).
4. How the piece shows the evolution of music across the Renaissance Era.

Final Product: 5 entries on 5 different pieces, 4 paragraphs each
Due: Friday, April 10

Music History: Renaissance
ThinkQuest: Renaissance Era
Youtube - Keynote on Renaissance Era
Youtube - video

Friday, March 13, 2015

Environmental Arts Resources

- Michael Jackson - Earth Song
- Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror
- Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
- John Mayer - Waiting on the World to Change
- Rush - The Trees
- Sarah Slean - The Day We Saved the World
- The Submarines - You, Me and the Bourgeoisie
- Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
- Soundgarden - Hands All Over
- Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)
- The Kinks - Apeman
- Jamiroquai - Emergency on Planet Earth
- R.E.M. - Cuyahoga

Environment Poems:

Environment Visual Art:

Examples of Students Work:

- Saving the Environment One Rap at a Time (
- S.W.A.G. (Environmental) (