Goal: Process and transcribe leaps within the dominant triad.
Smaller goal: Some students are bored; the content is too easy for the skills they already have. This music has lots of extra nuance that they can work towards processing, but I have to set it up in such a way that students with weaker skills don’t try to do too much. The set-up I do will end up introducing the idea of skeletal melody (one with no embellishments).
Musical example: Queen of the Rushes (Irish jig, played on the uilleann pipes by Máire Ní Ghráda)
- Listen with the goal of identifying tonic. Sing and contour tonic and dominant triads throughout the entire vocal range they think they’ll need (this jig has a wide range).
- Map out the number of measures, where leading tones are heard, general contour, and main notes for each measure (one or two notes per measure).
- Circle where the dominant triad leaps are and notate those. People can work ahead if they want.
This activity was not as well-executed (well-planned?) as previous ones. My first section could not do the preliminary work (singing V chords and processing V-leaps within a seven-note melody) well enough to progress to this activity. My second two sections did, but I had to focus their energy on specific places to make sure that we address the point (leaps in the V chord). We also only dealt with the first phrase of three. By the third section, I liked my format. Here it is (10 minutes):
- Tell them it is eight bars long and moves at a quick tempo. Map the eight bars on the board, leaving the contents of each bar empty.
- Provide them the first two scale degrees, which occur out of tempo (^5 and ^4).
- Listen twice, then strategize about how to deal with music that moves this quickly
- Identify the first scale degree of every bar
- Feel and identify the harmonic changes (I and V7, in this case).
- Circle the bars that had V7 leaps, asking students to complete those bars first (bars 2, 4, 6, and 7).
- Encourage them to finish the remaining bars with their left-over time
- Explore notations for communicating embellishments and ways of delaying the downbeats (often a slide up to the “structural” note).
While it took three tries to use the excerpt in the most efficient way for today’s class, I like it. The easiness of the leaps is balanced by the difficulty of processing at this tempo. We also were able to discuss why ^5 works for a drone note, explored music with implied harmonic change rather than explicit harmonic change, worked within a compound meter, and noted differences in the performance on the repeat.