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From Magpies to Messiaen: Birds in Music

Part I - Music Theory & Aural Skills

Before working with recordings of bird calls, students work on various aspects of music theory and aural skills in the first part of this project. The knowledge and skills developed in this part of the lesson will provide students with the ability to hear and understand melody or melodic fragments from a new perspective. This page will review material covered in class and provide additional resources as well.

 Topics covered in this part of the lesson: -How to identify intervals both visually and aurally -How to read and notate pitches in standard notation
Identifying Intervals:

Step 1- An interval is the distance between two pitches.

In order to find the interval between two notes, you need to add the half and whole steps between the two notes.

Using your knowledge of half and whole steps to find the intervals between the pitches on the handout that has been given to you.

Look at the following chords and find the intervals between the lowest-middle note and then the middle-highest note.
 Highest F D F# Eb Bb G E A C D Middle C# C D C A F B E B B Lowest A G Bb A D E F C G D# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Step 2 - Using the keyboards in class, create 12 chords and label the intervals.
Step 3 - We will be working on identifying intervals by ear over the next several classes. Try to think of pieces of music you know that start of with particuluar intervals to help you remember them. Use the resources to the right to practice identifying intervals aurally.

Try "Big Ears" an interval"drill" program

(extra credit opportunity - Use "Big Ears" on a computer either at home or in school. Click all the boxes from P1 to P8. If you correctly identify 10 intervals in a row you will receive a 100% as an extra quiz grade. You must copy the text in the big ears box and paste it in a word program to print it out. The print out must be signed by a parent or teacher that was present for you to receive your 100% )

Step 4 - We will now be learning how to write the pitches out in "standard notation". Review your notes on "notation". Make sure you know the purpose of each of the following as well as what each thing looks like:

Staff, Treble Clef, Bass Clef, G Clef, F Clef, Line, Space, Sharp, Flat, Note

A quick review of the staff, clefs, and note names

Homework - Download a piece of music that includes both treble and bass clef. You may need to try a couple of different pieces before you find one.

Print out the music and label all of the pitches for at least 12 bars.

(extra credit opportunity - If you can perform the pitches on a keyboard of one of the clefs I will give you extra credit. You do not have to play accurate rhythms for this particular exercise.)

Want to practice identifying notes on a staff?

Step 6 - Use Finalenotepad to create a 12 bar original piece of music in either treble or bass clef. Use the rules I gave out in class. You may use whole notes, half notes and quarter notes.

Make sure to constantly listen to what you are composing!

Try to "hear" the intervals as you play what you have written.

When you are happy with what you have written, print it out.

Label the note names and write down the intervals between all of the notes.

(extra credit opportunity - Now that you have done this in class, write a 12 bar piece for piano. This will require you to use both treble and bass clef. Follow the same procedure you did in class and hand it in for extra credit. - feel free to experiment with 8th and 16th notes as well if you would like!)