Small assignment: Droplets and pointy music
An exciting exercise for creating pointy music that sounds like droplets while learning about the range of the students’s own instrument and of other instruments in the group.
Goal and output
Further introduction to octaves, instrument knowledge and (for advanced students) score reading
A pointy composition
- Explore the registers of students' own instruments or other instruments. Explore the ranges of the instruments in the group.
- Have the students work in pairs or individually to select 1 or 2 pitches in each register of the instrument that the students are able to play. These may form an existing or invented scale, or they may be selected so as to have an interesting interval relationship (spaced by thirds or fourths, for instance).
- Compose several motifs using these pitches. Any pitch can be repeated one or more times if desired.
- Consider the note values and create an interesting rhythm. Add dynamics, articulations and instrument techniques. You may have the students create a graphic score with points and lines spaced to illustrate the various registers.
- Play the droplet motifs and continue listening all the time.
- Decide which motif should start the piece and how the motif should be used. Should it be repeated, and at what level? Should it be varied or developed? Should it be used for a sequence, thereby adding to the number of pitches used?
- The resulting fragments may be performed separately, or they may be compiled into a joint piece that the entire group can then perform. Some droplet motifs may be overlapped or superimposed.
Topics in the assignment
This exercise can also be performed as an aleatoric dice-throwing composition exercise (see 66. Small assignment: Throw-the-dice composition). Write the selected pitches on pieces of paper, pick 3 to 8 pitches at random with the students working individually or in pairs, and determine the number of pitches to be used by throwing dice.
Anton Webern: Symphony op. 21. You may also study the score.
See also assignment 20. Small assignment: One-note composition.
Assignment suitable for further study