Today's Intro classes went particularly well. I gave a brief introduction to the Renaissance time period. (Printing press! Shakespeare! Queen Elizabeth!), had the class listen to madrigals from both Italian and English origin, and then had them break into groups to discuss creating their own madrigal based on Richard Blanco's poem presented at President Obama's 2012 inauguration.
How would you use word painting to put the following section of a poem to music, as in a madrigal? Where would there be unusual chromatic harmonies? Where would the voices overlap into polyphony? Where would you use homophony? Would there be only voices, or would instruments join? Would it be more like the Italian or English madrigal? Have explanations for your decisions.
The groups had great ideas, ranging from descending 8th notes to represent 'rain', a low whole note in the basses for 'weight,' chimes to represent 'stars,' and polyphony through the last 2 lines until the word 'together' ended in unison. It always takes a little prodding to get them going, but I know they now fully understand what a madrigal is, and how word painting was used in the 15th and 16th centuries.
I realize I'm treading on obnoxious optimism, but I feel like this really is a great way to teach this course; it's possible I'm actually piquing an interest, an appreciation...
Also, I really love the imagery of a 'silent drum tapping.' It makes me think of yearning, and the concept of a moon yearning is one of the more beautiful ideas I've heard in a while.