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Learning Module Three: Active Listening and Popular Orchestral Works

By Jessica Bowen

Watch Jessica's Video | Monday, October 5, 2020

Activity One | Tuesday, October 6, 2020

While discussing Romeo and Juliet, Jessica told us about the motif, a series of notes used to signify a specific character or theme in a piece. Motifs (or motives) are used frequently in movies and television, and they can be powerful tools to intensify a scene or help the viewer make connections.

Think of the familiar entrance music used for Darth Vader in Star Wars; before the character even appears on the screen, the audience senses his presence. How many motifs can you think of from your own favorite movies and shows?

Activity Two | Wednesday, October 7, 2020

As Jessica explained, familiarity can elicit a strong reaction in listeners to any musical genre. Even just the opening of a piece of music can capture someone’s attention, such as in the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” and Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

Make a playlist of songs that you find instantly recognizable. If you can, skip through the playlist with a friend or family member. Do they recognize any songs after listening for just a few seconds?

Activity Three | Thursday, October 8, 2020

Classical masterworks are used in everything from cartoons to car commercials. Because of this, even when we may not think we are familiar with a piece, we have often heard it before.

Listen to the following pieces of music. How many do you recognize? If you haven’t played them before, where do you think you might have first heard them?

1. William Tell Overture

2. In the Hall of the Mountain King

3. Flight of the Bumblebee

4. Ride of the Valkyries

Activity Four | Friday, October 9, 2020

As we learned in this week’s video, music can leave a lasting impression and remain popular for years and years. What music do you think society will still be listening to for generations to come?

Do you think these classical masterworks will remain popular? What about pop songs that you hear on the radio? Do any of them stand out as songs that we will continue to listen to over the next few decades?