Programme music: music and space – Rhinegold Publishing

Programme music: music and space


This is a series of lessons investigating the ways in which rhythm, melody and harmony can be used to create particular effects relating to a topic – in this case, space. Three pieces of music are approached in a workshopping style: ‘Mars’ from Holst’s The Planets suite, ‘Darth Vader’s Theme’ from John Williams’s Star Wars soundtrack, and the Doctor Who theme music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Once these pieces have been thoroughly explored, students will then compose their own pieces of space-themed music using the ideas they have encountered. Although the three pieces are essentially classical in style, students’ own compositions may not be – there is potential for great flexibility in this respect.

Learning objectives

  • To make links between specific features of music and the meanings we construct from it.
  • To explore how metre and rhythm affect the feeling of the music, particularly the differences between 4/4 and 5/4 metres, and the use of rhythmic ostinato including triplets.
  • To learn to use notation to help organise rhythmic ideas.
  • To explore how distinctive intervals can help shape an effective melody, particularly tritones and minor 9ths.
  • To explore how minor and major tonality can be used to manipulate the feeling of a piece of music.
  • To explore how juxtaposition of chords a tritone apart has a specific, space-like feeling.

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