Monday, 20 August 2012

Classroom Composition Competition! With Tonematrix

Here's our suggestion for how you can use Tonematrix with your class to help facilitate creativity, dialogue and learning.

Visit our 'Free Online Beat Samplers' post for other similar music making resources.

First, provide a set time (2-10 minutes) for your group to 'play' without any limitation (make sure everyone has headphones!). At the end, everyone turns their volume down and each participant takes a turn to play their piece back to the group.

Immediately after each piece is heard by the group, ask for a description of the piece from the creator and the listeners. Note the descriptive words and musical ideas/terms that the group use on your board/flipchart as they arise. Introduce some alternative/common musical terms if appropriate.

*You may want to keep descriptions ('he only used five of the columns', 'a lot of boxes were lit up') and opinions/interpretations ('it was annoying, listening to it made me angry', 'I felt bouncy, and happy') in separate columns. Use these to reinforce the difference between facts and opinions. Encourage use of the word 'I' so that participants take ownership of their feelings without turning them into judgements ('It was boring' invites challenge and conflict, - 'no it wasn't'. / 'I thought it was boring because I didn't hear much going on' invites conversation and collaboration - 'I found the space relaxing, it reminded me of.....').

After each piece has been heard. Explain that you are now going to set a ToneMatrix competition, and the group has to decide on the rules.

You can either support the group to decide on their own rules (based on the words they have generated/learned, or from new ideas that come up). It may be more convenient to ask them to choose from a list that you pre-prepare (this could take away from the sense of ownership about the activity that the group has begun to develop).

*At some point, you may like to show a few inspiring examples from youtube. Maybe use these to generate more discussion.

Some competition suggestions (try combining a few!):

Use every other row.
Use groups of three columns.
Create an alternating pattern between two low notes and an accompanying melody on the higher notes.
Layer three patterns that repeat every four columns, with each pattern containing a limited number of notes/rows.
Make a piece that you interact with that lasts 30 seconds.
Make a piece that has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Create a piece inspired by a word (emotions, seasons, countries, sports......)

After the final performance, ask for votes and let the class choose a winner. A simple reward can be that the winner chooses the rules of the next task, and so on...

*Encourage dialogue, and provide opportunities for your class to use their new vocabulary. You could even ask for a short piece of writing about their favourite composition that uses the new words they have learned during the exercise.

Free Online Beat Samplers - Accessible Rhythm Making Resources

Want to make and listen to your own rhythms and musical arrangements? With little or no musical experience, you use these free online resources right now. Perfect for a variety of age groups from primary school upwards - including teachers! Make sure you have your sound turned on and your headphones or speakers plugged in!

Sheep Beats is easy to start having fun with. Anyone can create and listen to their own music immediately.

It loads quickly, and I use it to help work out rhythms when I am in a rush.

Check the boxes to make your own beats, basslines and piano accompaniment. Play the funky sample rhythms in the presets list!

BeatLab is a more complex example of the same thing. The different features you will notice first are the speed, genre and volume options.

You can upload your own sounds to BeatLab, create, save and share longer songs, at various speeds, and change the volumes (velocities) of each sound. They even host remix competitions! My favourite sounds are in the Middle Eastern Genre

Tonematrix provides a simple and absorbing play-space for creating complex melody patterns. Try it out yourself before watching the variety of creative approaches on youtube:

Want to use this tool with your class to facilitate creativity, dialogue and learning?

Check out our Classroom Composition Competition post!

Other cool links....

Give this craziness a go!

Program, watch and record a drum kit

Awesome Japanese inspired animation

Search for 'flash', 'sampler', 'drum', 'online', 'beat' to find similar resources.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Jati Scales in Action / Further Teaching Ideas

Pages 7,8 and 9 of our free Box Notation Guide show you how to introduce Jati Scales into your music education sessions. Below are three inspirational videos to get your class on board. While you are watching, listen out for the relationship between parts that are spoken, and parts that are played on the drums...

You may also like to search the web for 'Bols', 'Jati' and 'Konnakol'. Each are Indian vocal rhythm systems from different regions, and have their own nuances and applications.

This first video is a great example of call and response between the voice and a drum (or two..):

A beautifully sung and impeccably performed duet. Each syllable is matched with a beat on the drum:

More of Lori Cotler and Glen Velez (These guys are inspirational!). Here, keeping it nice and simple:

You can do this activity right away. First, ask a few volunteers to keep time in the background with a shaker or drum. 

Now lead a whole class, vocal call and response song using the jati scales on our resource. Decide in advance and stick to a set measure of time for all the calls and responses. The timekeeping background of shakers and drums will help everyone stick to the same measure. 

Volunteers can also lead with their own Jati rhythms. Check out our Jerry Leake post for more rhythmical ideas using Jati scales (try introducing some of these into your call and response). And remember......  if you can say it, you can play it! 

And finally, a beautiful blend of Jati, Percussion and Dance:

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Foli: Everything is Rhythm

This is a powerful 10 minute video showing rhythm in West African daily life and celebrations (Baro, Guinea). Watch and listen to some great examples of layered vocal rhythms and their corresponding rhythms played on traditional instruments. See instruments being made, children practicing with found sounds and absorbing performances.

From the video description:
Life has a rhythm, it's constantly moving.
The word for rhythm ( used by the Malinke tribes ) is FOLI.
It is a word that encompasses so much more than drumming, dancing or sound.
It's found in every part of daily life.
In this film you not only hear and feel rhythm but you see it.
It's an extraordinary blend of image and sound that
feeds the senses and reminds us all
how essential it is.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Download our FREE Teaching with Box Notation Guide.

Packed full of great ideas. The easy way to learn and teach box notation..

This link takes you to our PDF archive where you can select the documents you require.

Brain stretching music exercises from India

Jerry Leake, Associate Professor of Percussion at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music has put together some great tutorials and videos for exploring the world of polyrhythms. Just click to access the full articles:

This is the first in a series of Jerry's videos that accompany the exercises. Don't be put off by the simplicity of the earlier parts, they quickly become more challenging and rewarding!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Free RZResource Downloads

We have recently added rhythm notation sheets for djembe and dhol to our free PDF download site. Click and see what you can start downloading today.

Downloadable PDFs for the BeatSwap programme are also available! Visit the blog to find out more about this exciting inter-school project.

Go to the RhythmZone site for links to our publications and training courses, current projects, or to invite us to work with you.

Saturday, 5 May 2012 for everything mridanga!

The first RZResources post! Check out our very own to learn about this awesome drum. Played in accompaniment to devotional vocal music (Primarily Kirtan and Bhajan in North India), the drum is traditionally made from clay and produces a hypnotic mellow sound.

Learning to play is very meditative. We teach mantras that represent the sounds of the drum. This is a traditional technique that focuses and integrates mind, speech and action.