Mind map composition
A hilarious mind map composition exercise on a pre-agreed topic.
Goal and output
Composing on the basis of mental images and moods.
Notating, playing by ear, analysing form, improvising and imitating.
This exercise can be used for teaching the concept 'sequence'.
A composition in multiple sections with varying moods.
If the group is particularly timid, they can be prepped for instance with an assignment combining movement and sound, working in pairs (the preparatory exercise in assignment 48. From movement expression to graphic notation) or assignment 21. Soundscape for an existing story.
• Select or invent a shared topic in the group, e.g. seasons, fantasy characters or the elements (earth, air, fire, water).
• Collaborate to produce a mind map on the topic. What mental images does the topic suggest? Select images that could be used as the subject of a section of a piece of music.
• Divide the group into smaller groups (3 to 5 students per group) and assign each small group a portion of the mind map to set to music.
• Have each small group make their own mind map of their area and to try out using instruments what their ideas/images could sound like. Members of the small group should imitate and copy the ideas presented. Ideas can be improvised on the basis of varying tonal colour, melody, rhythm and harmonic movement.
• Have the small groups document the motifs they come up with, using mixed techniques (drawing, writing, music notation).
• Have the small groups plan a form for their section, play the music and work out the details.
• Have the small groups each perform their motifs or sections for the entire group and discuss.
• Ideas from various small groups can be taken up for incorporation in the tutti version, with imitation at different transpositions, etc., and further development. This is a good context for teaching the students the concept of 'sequence'.
• Some motifs may be extended to be played/sung by the entire group.
• Collate the sections into a complete score including tutti sections, solos and small group sections. Add dynamics and musical terms (e.g. character indications and tempo markings).
• Perform the piece.
Topics in the assignment
Detailed description of tools
Students' own instruments or voices – in the latter case, the piece is a choral work.
Assignment suitable for further study