Tune on Tuesday

Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable

Leonard Bernstein

This video is interesting for a number of reasons. There are familiar instruments and ones less familiar. It is quite a small orchestra and all the instruments are 'period' instruments. This means they are the same ones Vivaldi would have heard the music on. The piece is split into three movements:

  1. Allegro

  2. Largo - this starts around 3:32

  3. Allegro - starting around 6:18

I wonder if you can work out what the Italian words mean from the sound of the music? It's quite a long piece but lots of repetition means it's not hard to listen to and if you listen well you'll pick up how it goes. It is very popular and has been for hundreds of years!

Primavera is one of four pieces from Vivaldi's four seasons. How does Vivaldi paint a picture of Spring in his music? Can you hear birds, rain, the changing and warming of the weather? What signs of Spring have you noticed where you live? How many can you list?

There are lots of videos of Vivaldi's Spring. I chose this one because the musicians seem to be really enjoying themselves, playing together and hopefully we will be back playing together before too long. Mrs W has written out two tunes about Birds: La Coucou and Little Bird for our Kingsmead musicians which I hope you enjoy playing.

Ms S :-)

9th February 2021

Mussorsky

Russian composer Modest Mussorsky was great friends with artist, architect and designer, Viktor Hartmann who gave Mussorsky a gift of two pictures in 1868. When Hartmann died unexpectedly aged only 39, an exhibition of 400 of his works was organised and Mussorsky lent the two paintings. Mussorsky wrote this piece Pictures at an Exhibition in just three weeks, celebrating ten of the pictures by the friend he missed. Most of the paintings and drawings are now lost but the music lives on and is still played in concerts halls all round the world.

Pictures at an Exhibition illustrates in music a tour of the exhibition, a piece for each of ten pictures. The promenade (promenade means to walk) describes walking around Hartmann's exhibition. I have chosen three other pieces, each describing a picture, I think you might enjoy. Can you imagine Hartmann's pictures from Mussorsky's music?

Gnomus - What do you think about this gnome? Would you like to meet him (or her)?

Tuileries (Children's Quarrel after Games) - It's being played here on an accordion. How does it sound like children quarrelling?

Baba Yaga (the hut on hen's legs) - Baba Yaga is an old witch who lives in a hut that runs about on hen's legs.

Musicians - Mrs W has written out the folk song Scarborough Fair, you can find music for lots of instruments here. If you want to hear how it goes here are Simon and Garfunkel singing it in a concert in Central Park, New York. It's a beautiful tune and the lyrics (words) are intriguing. I used to try and imagine the shirt without a seam or needlework, the acre of land between the salt water and the sea sand but found it quite impossible to picture them. It would be impossible to draw or paint them but what can be impossible to see or imagine can be made possible and imaginable in music.

There's a thought. Ms S ;-)

2nd February 2021

Played here by Crispin Steele-Perkins

The Prince of Denmark's march was written for the husband of Queen Anne, who was queen of the United Kingdom 1702-1707. However it's the tune for this Tuesday because last Thursday Mrs R-B told you about how the population in Denmark joined together to help their Jewish friends and neighbours to escape to Sweden. The Danes really were a light in the darkness back then.

Here it is again, this time being played on the Natural Trumpet. A natural trumpet is the ancestor of the modern instrument, it has similarities and differences. Brass players, what do you notice about this natural trumpet? Do think it might be more difficult to play this ancestor of the modern instruments you play?

Mrs W has written out the music for the various instruments played in school. I hope you enjoy playing it. People who can master the March may well find themselves in demand at weddings where this piece is often played for the grand entrance of the bride and groom. I hope you will enjoy playing this piece as much as I do.

I had hoped to find a video of Alison Balsom playing the March but sadly You Tube does not offer such a thing. She is a really wonderful trumpeter and we have a few budding Ms Balsom's in school (you know who you are). But I did find this very beautiful and uplifting clip 'Eternal Source of Light' where she plays a natural trumpet and it links rather nicely with being a light in the darkness. Which Alison's playing always is! I hope you will all enjoy a sublime three minutes.

Enjoy! Ms S :-)

26th January 2021

Together, celebrating life and belonging

Lights and music are often used to help us remember. In many religions people will light candles as symbols of life, hope as well as to remember the dead. Tomorrow it is Holocaust Memorial Day and many people across the world will be lighting candles in their window from 8pm.

Most music remembering the Holocaust is very sad. It recalls a terrible time in our human history; a time when many millions of Jewish, gypsy, disabled, gay people and political opponents suffered terribly under the Nazis. This piece for Holocaust Memorial Day, recorded in Jerusalem in 2018 is unusual. It is something of a celebration and brings together Jewish people who survived the holocaust and their families, 600 of them. Holocaust survivors, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are here, singing together in one uplifting celebration of life.

For our musicians this week, Mrs W has written out another joyful tune (click here for the music). This is a rather odd song but it too celebrates people being together. But these people all live together in a very strange place: beneath the waves, in a Yellow Submarine! The song was a massive hit. It was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, members of a band called The Beatles (ask your grandparents!). With us all inside with our family, lockdown life can feel a little bit like living in a submarine.

Let's hope it won't be too long before we are all together too, celebrating our Kingsmead Primary School family being back together under one very fine Kingsmead roof!

19th January 2021

Simon and Garfunkel

Two very different tunes today but both with a winter theme. The first starts with a snowy day in deep and dark December. But it's not really about winter at all! There is a deeper meaning of Paul Simon's lyrics, about humankind.

The second, equally famous, is Skater's Waltz. The tune is by Emile Waldteufel which means Forest Devil in German - great name! The video features a skater who is also playing the violin in her college orchestra - look out for her. You will need to scroll about half way through to get to the music and skating (there's quite a bit of chat at the beginning). Mrs W has arranged Skater's Waltz for Kingsmead musicians. Give it a go!

Now, for older people listening to the first tune, I Am A Rock by Simon and Garfunkel, some things to think about:

  • Can you see how it connects to John Donne's poem that we looked at last Wednesday, the one about no one being an island? The person singing in this song is saying they very much are a rock; they are definitely an island.

  • Do you think the singer is really happy being a rock, an island?

  • What do you think has happened to make them want to be alone? (There is a clue in the lyrics).

  • If Someone you knew was telling you this, what would you reply?

Here are the lyrics:

A winter’s day

In a deep and dark December

I am alone

Gazing from my window

To the streets below

On a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow

I am a rock

I am an island

I’ve built walls

A fortress, steep and mighty

That none may penetrate

I have no need of friendship

Friendship causes pain.

It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.

I am a rock

I am an island

Don’t talk of love

Well, I’ve heard the words before

It’s sleeping in my memory

And I won’t disturb the slumber

Of feelings that have died

If I never loved, I never would have cried

I am a rock

I am an island

I have my books

And my poetry to protect me

I am shielded in my armour

Hiding in my room

Safe within my womb

I touch no one and no one touches me

I am a rock

I am an island

And a rock feels no pain

And an island never cries.

© 1965 Words and Music by Paul Simon

12th January 2021

In 2021 climate change means that if we really are serious about caring for other people we must think about how we leave planet Earth for the next generation. The next generation is you children, and after you there will be the generation of your children, your grandchildren and great children. Just imagine - all those people, your relatives and decedents; people who don't exist yet, but who will inherit the planet we leave them. So for January, the first tune of 2021, I am sharing again People of Tomorrow. It wasa Tuesday Tune last year in Summer. Older ones should remember this from Big Sing and year 4 and 5 certainly as they got to sing it live at the Philharmonic Hall with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on the last school trip before the first lockdown, last March.

The music to this piece was written by Tim Jackson, principal horn player at the Phil. Tim taught horn to one of our past pupils, Tom Rocke, who can find on our Amazing Alumni page. It is rather wonderful just to ponder on how connected music is. Just like here on planet Earth and all the species we share our home planet with, all connected all depending on each other and depending on us.

Have a think about the lyrics ('lyrics' means the words of a song).

  • What does 'People of Tomorrow' mean?

  • Who or what is each verse singing for? Why?

  • Verse three repeats the word 'power'. What different sorts of power are there in the verse?

Musicians - Mrs W has made out some different scores for your instruments. Year 5 and 6 musicians and maybe some year 4 recorder players might want to try them out.

Singers - we can't sing as a class or school right now but we will be singing this in assembly again one day. The music and words mean you can sing it at home and maybe learn it by heart. It's a real belter and would make a brilliant school anthem!