Small assignment: Serialism
Introduction to the principles of serialist music. Playing notes with a specified dynamic and duration.
Goal and output
Introduction to serialist music
Improvisation based on serialist principles
- You may use a pentatonic or an octatonic scale, for instance. Write the scale on the board.
- Assign each note in the scale a dynamic, in a random order. The dynamics used might be pp-p-mp-mf-f for a pentatonic scale and ppp-pp-p-mp-mf-f-ff-fff for an octatonic scale. Improvise music together. Students may freely select the register and playing technique for each note, but they must play each note at the given dynamic. You may give a predetermined duration for the improvisation (e.g. 1 minute).
- Specify a duration for each note. The note values used may be from whole note to 1/16 note for a pentatonic scale, and adding dotted note values for an octatonic scale. Improvise music together as above, but the students must conform to both the duration and dynamic given for each note.
- There does not need to be an exact pulse, and the note values may be indicative only, but for convenience you may want to specify that the tempo should be about 60 (quarter note).
- Talk about what it is like to combine these very precise rules with making music freely.
Topics in the assignment
Assignment suitable for further study