Musical Conversation

The idea that music is an expressive language that uses sound instead of words. Objective: To increase knowledge of the expressive qualities of music by expressing a particular mood, emotion, or idea in an original composition.

step 1

Talk about what a conversation is; how it has give and take, sounds and silence, and once in a while overlapping voices.

step 2

Choose sounds to represent each voice (any sound works as long as there are two distinct voices). Each may create his/her own sound. Have the conversation using only the students’ sounds. Be as expressive as possible with sounds only. Use tempo, repetition, dynamics (soft/medium/loud) and as many textural variations available on the sounds (smooth, rough, etc.).

step 3

In pairs, create a conversation between two voices. Decide what kind of conversation to have: Is one voice persuading the other? Is it an aggressive argument? Question/answer? Relationships between characters?

step 4

Once the students are comfortable with the idea of conversation, have them substitute instruments for their sounds.

step 5

Perform the conversation for an audience. The audience tries to guess from the sounds what the conversation is about. It helps if audience members close their eyes and only focus on the sounds.

teacher tip

Coach students with questions like, “What did you notice? Did the feeling of the conversation change throughout the course of the piece? Was there a high point? Was there an ending to the conversation?” There is room for a wide range of interpretations! There is no single “right” answer, just listening and making personal connections with what you are hearing.

Art Making