Bai Tango Cho Em (“A Tango For You,” Vietnamese Karaoke Song) [small dictation exercise]

Ok, so it’s really a appropriation of Liszt’s “Liebestraum” No. 3 into 4/4 time and an (even) smaltzier setting.  I would love to work on the vocals, which break away from Liszt’s beautiful melody, but given my time constraints, I’m going to stick with the violin solo that frames the duet. I do hope to take 30 seconds to set up the context for this example, and I’m so very grateful to my Soundscapes book for providing that to me.  Here are some strengths of the example:

(1) It has leaps, including the all-important rising M6th from ^5 to ^3.
(2) It has a really interesting bassline for quick students to work on.
(3) It sits on the harder pitches (the tops of leaps) for a long time, giving students time to hear the pitch in their head and take it up (or down) to ^1.
(4) It’s short.
(5) I can play them a little bit of the song.

I anticipate this taking 10 minutes, max.  I provided them the rhythm as part of a in-class handout. Their job is to add scale degrees.  We will do three hearings with no discussion, then I will encourage them to compare papers and discuss/sing differences. Ideally, we’ll close singing it as a duet, with the quicker students singing the bass line.

post-class UPDATE:

A worthy example.  Key to success, though, were the 2-3 minutes of small group work.  I overheard a lot of very good peer teaching going on.  The start on ^5-^3 was an appropriate level of difficulty, and the long hang-out on ^6 was also a great learning/teaching moment. 10 minutes was sufficient; I had an extra 3 minutes in my last section during which we worked out the bass line and traced its presence in the core of the song.  Here was the order of events:

  1. Set up why I like the musical example–it blends four traditions together: tango, Vietnamese story, karaoke, and Liszt. (30 seconds)
  2. Listen once to get our bearings. LIsten again to follow along with the given rhythm.
  3. Play it on the piano once.
  4. Listen again, having them hum along.
  5. Time to work. (2-3 minutes)
  6. Small group work (2-3 minutes)
  7. Sing together on numbers with piano accompaniment.
  8. Exit classroom to Vietnamese karaoke / tango music.


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