For this Guided Listening, you will need the following:
A copy of these teaching steps
Text asset: Allan Gordon Bell, Spirit Trail
Audio asset: Excerpt from Spirit Trail by Allan Gordon Bell
Image asset: Laura Gilpin, Spirit of the Prairie (on LCD projector for class viewing)

Audio excerpts, images and textual information are provided below the Guided Listening.

I. Listen and Look
• Listen to the audio asset excerpt from Bell’s Spirit Trail while looking at the image asset of Spirit of the Prairie by Laura Gilpin.
• Ask: What kind of connections can you make between the painting and the music? Does the mood seem similar?
• Share the following quote:
The composer, Allan Gordon Bell, describes the piece Spirit Trail as an “imagina Read More
For this Guided Listening, you will need the following:
A copy of these teaching steps
Text asset: Allan Gordon Bell, Spirit Trail
Audio asset: Excerpt from Spirit Trail by Allan Gordon Bell
Image asset: Laura Gilpin, Spirit of the Prairie (on LCD projector for class viewing)

Audio excerpts, images and textual information are provided below the Guided Listening.

I. Listen and Look
• Listen to the audio asset excerpt from Bell’s Spirit Trail while looking at the image asset of Spirit of the Prairie by Laura Gilpin.
• Ask: What kind of connections can you make between the painting and the music? Does the mood seem similar?
• Share the following quote:
The composer, Allan Gordon Bell, describes the piece Spirit Trail as an “imaginary musical journey through prairie…beginning with an evocation of snowdrifts and grasswaves…” (score programme notes.)
• Listen again with this description in mind.

II. Identify
• Ask: Can you hear the really low instrument? What is it? (The low instrument you hear is a contrabassoon). How can you describe this instrument? What about the prairies could it represent?
• Read the text asset: Allan Gordon Bell, Spirit Trail, to discover how Bell described the representation of the contrabassoon.

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Allan Gordon Bell (b. 1953) took inspiration from Australian aborigines’ “song maps” for his Spirit Trail. This piece is a sonic journey across the prairies, the composer’s home. Contrabassoon represents the “sounds emerging from the bowels of the earth” and string harmonics are reminiscent of wind creating waves through long grass.
Allan Gordon Bell (b. 1953) took inspiration from Australian aborigines’ “song maps” for his Spirit Trail. This piece is a sonic journey across the prairies, the composer’s home. Contrabassoon represents the “sounds emerging from the bowels of the earth” and string harmonics are reminiscent of wind creating waves through long grass.

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

An excerpt from Spirit Trail by Allan Gordon Bell (0:00-1:50).

Allan Gordon Bell

© 1994, Allan Gordon Bell.


Laura Gilpin, The Spirit of the Prairie

This is a silver print of the prairies by Laura Gilpin entitled The Spirit of the Prairie. It is a good example of the combination of stark beauty and melancholy that can be evoked by the prairie landscape.

Laura Gilpin, 1921
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

photo © National Gallery of Canada


Learning Objectives

Landscape and Soundscape is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives.
  • Learn about how the landscape of Canada influences our identity
  • Understand how musical composition can make use of environmental sounds. 
  • Make a personal connection to the landscape and/or soundscape through listening to the music of these five composers and also make a connection through composing music inspired by immediate surroundings.

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