Educational Focus
Students compose a sunrise and sunset soundscape, and contrast it with two landscape-inspired compositions by the Canadian composers Allan Gordon Bell and Norman Symonds

Materials
Audio asset: Excerpt II of Spirit Trail by Allan Gordon Bell
Image asset: Frederick A. Verner, Sunrise Over a Lake
Audio asset: Excerpt III of Three Atmospheres by Norman Symonds
Audio asset: Sunrise Sunset Soundscape by students of Rosedale Heights School of the Arts
Audio asset: Sunrise Sunset Soundscape: Class Discussion

Lesson Map

I. Prepare
• Share with students: Sunrise and sunset can be thought of as magical times of day, or at least as moments of transformation. Composers and Read More
Educational Focus
Students compose a sunrise and sunset soundscape, and contrast it with two landscape-inspired compositions by the Canadian composers Allan Gordon Bell and Norman Symonds

Materials
Audio asset: Excerpt II of Spirit Trail by Allan Gordon Bell
Image asset: Frederick A. Verner, Sunrise Over a Lake
Audio asset: Excerpt III of Three Atmospheres by Norman Symonds
Audio asset: Sunrise Sunset Soundscape by students of Rosedale Heights School of the Arts
Audio asset: Sunrise Sunset Soundscape: Class Discussion

Lesson Map

I. Prepare
• Share with students: Sunrise and sunset can be thought of as magical times of day, or at least as moments of transformation. Composers and artists alike have been inspired by the mood, sounds, and look of the sun rising and setting.
• Ask: What kind of sounds can you imagine happening at sunrise?
     o Let’s think of a location near the school that would be a good place to see a sunrise from – we’ll use that location for imagining. Take a second to fix that place in your mind, and imagine the sun beginning to rise.

II. Create
• Continue: Let’s try to imitate the sunrise with our voices or instruments.
     o Try imitating the sounds that happen just before the sun can be seen, during that moment, then after.
     o Let’s try a few times, adjusting our composition to be a more and more accurate depiction of sunrise.
• Allow time for students to experiment and then try the same for sunset.
     o Are the sounds for sunset different? What are the different sounds? Do birds make different sounds during sunset then during sunrise? (The time of year will impact the type of answers here.)
• Discuss what we heard. Should we adjust our pieces a little?

III. Listen
• Introduce the work, Spirit Trail by Allan Gordon Bell, and share that what they are about to hear is the composer’s depiction of the horizon on the prairies.
• Play audio asset: Excerpt II from Bell’s Spirit Trail.
• Ask: Does this sound like sunrise to you?
• Show the image asset of Sunrise Over a Lake, by Frederick A. Verner. What do you see? What sounds do you hear in the painting?
• Listen to the excerpt from Spirit Trail again, viewing the painting at the same time.
• Ask: Is Bell’s musical description of a sunrise similar to ours? How? How is it different?
• Introduce the excerpt form Norman Symonds’s Three Atmospheres as a depiction of a twilight prairie scene. Listen.
• Ask: Does this sound like that moment just before the sun goes down? What sounds do you hear? How is this similar and different from our depiction?

IV. Adjust and Record
• Ask: How might we adjust our sunrise and sunset compositions based on what we heard?
• Have students record and share their compositions with other classes and see if they can guess which one is which.

V. Review and Reflect
• Listen to the audio asset: Sunrise Sunset Soundscape. What feedback could you give to the group of high school students who created this?
• Listen to the audio asset: Sunrise Sunset Soundscape Class Discussion. What insights are shared about the creative process?

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

An excerpt from Spirit Trail by Allan Gordon Bell (1:43-2:53).

Allan Gordon Bell

© 1994, Allan Gordon Bell.


Frederick A. Verner, Sunrise Over a Lake

This is a watercolour depiction of a sunrise by Frederick A. Verner entitled Sunrise Over a Lake.

Frederick A. Verner, 1913.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Gift of a member of the Verner family, through the High Commission for Canada, London, Endland, 1951.

photo © National Gallery of Canada


An excerpt from Three Atmospheres by Norman Symonds (0:00-1:50).

Norman Symonds

© 1987, Norman Symonds.


Sunrise, Sunset, Soundscape: Class Discussion

Rosedale Heights School of the Arts students

© Doug Friesen


A follow-up discussion to the performance of the sunrise/sunset soundscapes.

Rosedale Heights School of the Arts students

© Doug Friesen


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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