Quick Syncopation Dictation: Ai Di Tren Dam Duong Truong

I was browsing through the one disc of Soundscapes that I brought home with me for Thanksgiving and found two related tracks that I can use for a very quick rhythmic dictation featuring syncopation. The recordings I have are a little different than the one I posted here, but the opening rhythm remains the same. I still have a lot to do to get ready to teach (like reading the textbook to understand why there are two tracks of the same piece…), but here are my current thoughts on how this excerpt will be used:

In the interest of mixing it up a little bit, I’m going to reverse my standard order of events for class. After warm ups, we’re going to do this quick dictation, then alternate grading the prepared homework (which features syncopation) with dictating snippets of that homework.¬†In my ongoing goal to do more individual work in class, I’m going to put groups of students on the board for each excerpt. We’ll close class by going over their sightsinging.

Since this excerpt features the same rhythm multiple times, I’m just going to ask them to dictate it once. Before dictating, we will identify the meter and I will provide them with a little context. If/when they get the rhythm, I will ask them to take best guesses for scale degrees.


Post-class update

This exercise was quick (3-5 minutes). I think it was helpful that their prepared assignment for the day featured syncopation–they had been looking at lots of ties across barlines.

Students were a little surprised to be put up at the board to do their work, but it turned out great. They not only were more willing to accept help and answer questions, but their notational choices also opened up good teaching moments (ties vs. rests and a bar that started eighth, quarter, then half note were the two main teaching moments across the three sections).

I enjoyed learned about the context of this work. It’s part of a song cycle originally composed for the concert hall. It blends Western orchestral/choral traditions with Vietnamese melodies. The 2nd track was created by the composer’s son in the 1990s on a synthesizer. It presumably was more accessible for the younger Vietnamese who lived in America.


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