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Arts and culture

Grade 9

Expression and communication

Module 5

How technology has influenced the distribution of music

MUSIC

Activity 1

To explain how technology has influenced the distribution of music

  • While listening to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik imagine the following: You are living in Europe in the 18th century. The wonder child Mozart’s (13) music is creating a stir. He composes and performs his own work. Would it be possible for you to listen to his music? If so, how would you do it?
  • Compare it to the current situation. Name the technological inventions that make it possible to listen to any music today.

How has music been distributed since the beginning of the 20th century?

The influence of technology on the development of instruments

  • Since the very first musical instrument there has been an important connection between music and technology. Listen to the following extracts to experience the difference in sound:
  • Harpsichord music from the 17th century (Baroque Period) by JS BACH
  • Piano music by F CHOPIN

The piano developed from the harpsichord. Of the most important technological developments with regard to the piano is that the instrument could produce crescendo and diminuendo (gradually louder and softer) and sustain notes by using the damper pedal (the pedal to the right).

  • Poème Électronique by EDGAR VARÈSE

Since 1950 electronic instruments, especially amplified instruments like the electrical guitar and piano have become more prominent. With the development of electronic and computer technology the composer can be both composer and performer. Recordings are made in studios that have recorders, synthesizers, computers and other equipment to mix and filter sounds. This enables the composer to make use of a very wide spectrum of sound.

  • Try to recognise the following:

Bells

Sirens

Silence

Machine noises

Voices

Animal sounds

Electronic sounds

Activity 2 (group)

To debate the following quotation:

  • One of the most experimental classical composers of the 20th century is without a doubt John Cage. His famous (or is it notorious?) composition is 4’33” (1952).

Let’s perform this composition!

  • One learner is responsible for the tape recorder.
  • One learner must time the performance – the recording must be exactly 4’33”.
  • One learner seats himself in front of a piano (or other musical instrument) without playing! He is the performer.
  • The rest of the learners form the audience!
  • The educator is the conductor who shows exactly when to begin and when to stop.

Good: 1.....2......3......begin!

1 second, 2 seconds_________4 minutes 30 seconds, 4 minutes 31 seconds,4 minutes 32 seconds, 4 minutes 33 seconds STOP!

Now listen to the recording!

No music? Only sounds!

What is the aim of this composition?

According to the composer he tries to arrange the composition means in such a way that he doesn’t have any idea of what is going to happen! His purpose is to eliminate purpose. He wants people to learn to listen; not only to music, but to everyday sounds as well.

The unintentional sounds that the audience might produce are the music! Cage explains: “I try to arrange my composing means so that I will not have any knowledge of what might happen. My purpose is to eliminate purpose. The purpose would be achieved if people learned to listen.” This type of music is beneficial for better communication between composer and listener.

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Source:  OpenStax, Arts and culture grade 9. OpenStax CNX. Sep 15, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11067/1.1
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