Learning Activity #1: Abstract Studies with Colour

Educational Focus
Students compare and contrast two compositions and look for the ways visual images and music inspire each other.

Materials
Text asset: Composer Melissa Hui describes Inner Voices
Text asset: Garant: Plages
Flash asset: Inner Voices and Plages Comparison Chart (provide student copies)
Audio assets: Excerpts I to III of Inner Voices by Melissa Hui
Audio assets: Excerpts I to III of Plages by Serge Garant
Flash asset: Page 22 of Score of Plages by Serge Garant (provide student copies)
Flash asset: Page 35 of Score of Inner Voices by Melissa Hui (provide student copies)

I. Listen and Compare
• In pairs, students make a large chart for comparing Inner Voices and Plages.
• Note: Provide student copies of the Inner Voices and Plages Comparison Chart. Students can use this as their reference for setting up the large chart they will share with a partner. If you have SMART board technology, use it for a class version of the chart.
• Listen to Excerpt I of Inner Voices and model how to fill in the chart for the first excerpt. Listen to the remaining excerpts of Inner Voices and continue filling in the chart. (Give students more independence as they listen to the excerpts several times and fill out the chart for each excerpt.)
• Do the same with the excerpts from Plages.
• Provide time for the pairs to discuss their responses, and encourage them to use the Visual and Music Word lists created in the Guided Listening #1: Shape Up! for descriptive vocabulary.

II. Score Study
• Distribute student copies of page 35 of the Inner Voices score which shows several ‘fields of colour’ that softly enter and exit. Note how the moving eighth rhythms of the trombone and cello parts contrasts with the long sustained notes of the bassoon, contrabass and percussion.
• Distribute student copies of page 22 of Plages. On this page of the score, each ‘band’ of colour, is played by an orchestral family: brass, strings and percussion. Note that the score instructs the bells and harp to dialogue with one another, and gives other players the freedom to choose from the given pitches, rhythmic durations of notes, and playing techniques.
• Using the information from the chart, and from looking at the examples from the scores, compare and contrast the two compositions using a Venn diagram.

III. Read and Share
• Read text assets: Composer Melissa Hui describes Inner Voices and Garant: Plages. Add any new descriptive words to the Venn diagram, using a variety of colours, if possible.
• Partners join to make groups of four or six, and share diagrams. Discuss how successful the composers were in communicating their own thoughts, feelings and ideas through their compositions. When did you hear bands of colour in the excerpts?
• Exit pass: Summarize some of the ways visual images and music inspire each other. (e.g., refer to the terms on the completed chart)

IV. Extend
• Listen to the compositions in their entirety at www.nacmusicbox.ca
• Do a net-search for works of art that have a style connection to the music:
     o For Garant’s Plages and his use of bands of colour, look for artworks by Guido Molinari (Untitled, 1964) or Jack Bush (Big A, 1968).
     o For Hui’s Inner Voices and her use of fields of colour, look for artworks by Mark Rothko (No. 10, 1950).
Connexionarts
Jane Wamsley and Alison Kenny-Gardhouse

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