MotherTongue, MotherLand by Sunny Kim (lead artist, vocals, percussion), with Mindy Meng Wang (guzheng, vocals), Gelareh Pour (kamancheh, qeychak, vocals), Aviva Endean (clarinets, vocals).
Linda May Han Oh
Image: Shervin Lainez
13th April 2023
Begin by watching this excerpt of the live performance of Ephemeral Echoes
Watch 0:36 - do you think this music sounds "structured" or "ordered" in a particular way? Discuss with your class any musical patterns or ideas you can pick up on.
What does "improvise" mean? Search up and discuss this term, and reflect on whether "improvising" sounds easy or difficult. If difficult, is there anything that might make it an easier process?
Let’s get creative!
Activities can be done individually or in a group.
Creative Activity 1 - Introducing D Dorian
Have a listen to the D Dorian mode and take a look at how it is notated. On a DAW keyboard or classroom instrument, play through the D Dorian mode several times to familiarise yourself with its notes and sounds.
Then, try to play the notes of the D Dorian mode in a different order, ordering the notes however you like. How does your version of the mode sound? Try several different combinations, arranging the notes however you like, listening to how each sounds.
Once you’re comfortable, try improvising over this track.
Look at the word bank below and pick a word. Using the notes of the D Dorian mode from Activity 1, come up with a short melody/musical idea on your DAW keyboard/classroom instrument which captures the "mood" or "meaning" of your chosen word. You are allowed to repeat notes! Repeat this process several times, to experiment with different words and musical ideas.
You may like to jot down reminders on how your melody/musical idea goes so you can play it in front of your teacher, or record into a DAW/your phone voice recorder app.
You may use notes outside of the D Dorian mode if you’re comfortable. If you’ve studied music for a while already, and know another tonality/mode/key that you’d like to work in, you can do that.
Creative Activity 3 - Planning a Jam Session
Follow the notation examples below to plan out your music-making. Especially when improvising in a group, you need to make sure you are thinking along the same lines as your ensemble members, so that the sounds you produce as a group "work" or "mesh" well. Creating a simple plan means you will all be on the same page, which makes room for more creativity in your jam session!
Here are some examples of how you can notate improvised passages:
Playing through a set of notes in the performer’s own time (stemless notes)
Repeating a note/ group of notes for a set amount of time (box notation)
Having notes “ring” indefinitely (slur after a semibreve)
If in doubt, use descriptive, but concise language to convey your intentions
Here is an example of what this improvised notation may look and sound like in a small ensemble setting. Here, the clarinet and violin are following the lead of the piano.
Presentation of Learning
Using your notated plan from Activity 3, improvise a new jam session in your groups, as a live performance in front of the class.
Project your notated plan on an interactive whiteboard or similar and briefly explain how your notation works. How helpful was the written plan in this performance? Was improvisation made easier, or were there still challenges? Speak about these points in front of the class.
If a live performance is not possible, students can record their improvisation through a DAW or voice recorder app. MP3 recordings and notation plans can be published privately via the school LMS, or on music/visual sharing sites such as Soundcloud, Google Drive or Dropbox.
Australian Curriculum Mapped Outcomes
Year 7 and 8 Music
Developing practices and skills - AC9AMU8D01
Develop and practise listening/aural skills and vocal and/or instrumental skills/techniques for manipulating elements of music to achieve expressive effects.
Developing practices and skills - AC9AMU8D02
Reflect on their own and others’ music to inform choices they make as composers and performers about how they will manipulate elements of music and/or compositional devices.
Creating and making - AC9AMU8C02
Compose using the elements of music and compositional devices to communicate ideas, perspectives and/or meaning, and notate, document and/or record the music.