Thursday, May 23, 2024

Egyptian Soundtracks

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 7-11
Laura Harwood

This idea is to create a silent movie with Luigini’s Ballet Egyptien (1st movement) as the soundtrack.

If you can get any old silent films, it would be a good idea to look at one. If not, turn the sound off and look at a section of a Disney film. What does the music do/add to the visual?

Now look at it the other way around. Explain that they are going to create the pictures, but you already have the music. Listen to the piece and let the children comment on what they heard/what they know about Ancient Egypt.

The piece has several themes or distinctive sounds. My class thought that the opening 8 seconds was showing tomb robbers. When the music changed to a higher pitch, they thought that the robbers had come across a chamber in the tomb filled with gold. On hearing the fanfare, they decided that the guards were coming, but because the music went back to the lighter and higher pitch, they hadn’t been caught.

Discuss with groups different themes from the piece trying to get them to explain in musical terms. For instance, the ‘tomb robbers’ uses the string family and its low pitch, so it must be cello/double bass. The theme is heavy and ponderous and is repeated, so my class thought there were two robbers (same tune twice), and they were large men (low down pitch), and they were feeling their way along in the semi-light of their torches (ponderous).

The next group said that the theme was higher pitched and used the woodwind, particularly the flute, as well they could pick out glockenspiels. This is why they thought the chamber was full of gold – the metallic instruments and high up like the chinking of the metal. The tempo was quite quick because the men were looking everywhere in amazement, not stopping in one place to examine closely.

We painted pictures for each part of the piece, and I am putting them together with the music on Powerpoint to make their silent film. You could just as easily do this through drama or dance.

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