For this Guided Listening, you will need the following:
A copy of these teaching steps
Image asset: Viola
Audio asset: Sound of viola
Text asset: Concerto Conversations
Audio asset: Excerpt from Ballade for Viola and Strings by Godfrey Ridout

I. Discuss
• Ask: The viola is not often used as a solo instrument. Why might this be?
• Show the image asset of the viola and play the audio asset of the sound of a viola.
• Discuss: Describe the sound of the viola. Does it sound bright or dull? Does it sound low or high?
• Ask: How might it be a peculiar sound? (unassuming, yet rich in tone)
• Read aloud Concerto Conversations, the text asset that describes concerto form.
• Ask: What might the accompaniment to a viola solo sound like? What do you think would sound nice as a conversation between a string group and the vio Read More
For this Guided Listening, you will need the following:
A copy of these teaching steps
Image asset: Viola
Audio asset: Sound of viola
Text asset: Concerto Conversations
Audio asset: Excerpt from Ballade for Viola and Strings by Godfrey Ridout

I. Discuss
• Ask: The viola is not often used as a solo instrument. Why might this be?
• Show the image asset of the viola and play the audio asset of the sound of a viola.
• Discuss: Describe the sound of the viola. Does it sound bright or dull? Does it sound low or high?
• Ask: How might it be a peculiar sound? (unassuming, yet rich in tone)
• Read aloud Concerto Conversations, the text asset that describes concerto form.
• Ask: What might the accompaniment to a viola solo sound like? What do you think would sound nice as a conversation between a string group and the viola solo?

II. Listen
• Listen to the audio asset Excerpt from Ballade for Viola and Strings by Godfrey Ridout.
• Ask: Is this what you expected the viola solo to sound like? Is this what you expected the string accompaniment to sound like?
• Share with students:
This section begins with a viola solo, which is responded to by a short orchestra passage. The focus on solo and strings goes back and forth.
• Ask: What kind of conversation do you hear happening between the viola and the orchestra?
• Listen at 1:00. What might the lower strings be saying? Are they agreeing or disagreeing with the viola?

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

An excerpt from Ballade for Viola and Strings by Godfrey Ridout (1:23-3:23).

Godfrey Ridout

© 1983, Godfrey Ridout.


Image of a viola

The viola is slightly larger than a violin

National Arts Centre

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.


sound of a viola

The viola is lower in pitch than the violin and has a warm sound.

National Arts Centre

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Literally this term mean ’to concert with one another’ or in other terms have a conversation with one another. At times one individual or group of individuals may have more prominence than another.

Prior to 1600 in Europe it was rare to have more than ten instruments playing together at the same time. With the rise of elaborate theatrical spectacles accompanied by music, wealthy patrons tried to outdo one another in the number of singers, musicians, and elaborate decor used for productions that became known as opera.

Gradually the larger groups of instrumentalists consisting of string instruments (chordophones), wind instruments (aerophones), and percussionists (playing membranophones and idiophones) that came together began to have works composed especially for them, apart from the instrumental interludes and introductions that instrumentalists played in operas.

That trend was particularly encouraged at the main churches in Bologna, Italy, where there were a large number of instrumentalists on the roster. One of the types of structures that emerged there was what became known as the concerto grosso. In the concerto grosso one larger gr Read More
Literally this term mean ’to concert with one another’ or in other terms have a conversation with one another. At times one individual or group of individuals may have more prominence than another.

Prior to 1600 in Europe it was rare to have more than ten instruments playing together at the same time. With the rise of elaborate theatrical spectacles accompanied by music, wealthy patrons tried to outdo one another in the number of singers, musicians, and elaborate decor used for productions that became known as opera.

Gradually the larger groups of instrumentalists consisting of string instruments (chordophones), wind instruments (aerophones), and percussionists (playing membranophones and idiophones) that came together began to have works composed especially for them, apart from the instrumental interludes and introductions that instrumentalists played in operas.

That trend was particularly encouraged at the main churches in Bologna, Italy, where there were a large number of instrumentalists on the roster. One of the types of structures that emerged there was what became known as the concerto grosso. In the concerto grosso one larger group of instrumentalists converses with a smaller concertante group of around three or four musicians.

By around 1700 or so another form of ’concertante’ emerged. That was when only one musician conversed with the rest of the group to create what became known as a solo concerto. At this time the most common soloist was the violin, but soon one had concertos featuring many other instruments including the flute, oboe, trumpet, cello, bassoon, harpsichord, organ, etc.

Like a suite, concertos consisted of several movements varied by tempo and metre, but usually connected by having the same tonic note. By 1700 or so, the tempo arrangement was usually: fast, slow, fast. The outer fast movements would be in the same key such as C major while the middle movement might be in the parallel minor key or another closely related key.

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

"Musical Structures" is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:
  • identify traditional musical structures in music by contemporary Canadian composers
  • explore the fit between traditional structures and non-traditional composition

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans