Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rhythm in MS First-year Music Rotation

First-year music rotation has been all about rhythm this week and last. We collaborated to form complex rhythms in drum circles and a "vocal drum circle," created our own rhythm instruments out of found objects, learned to read and write some basic rhythmic notation, played rhythm games, and learned some lopsided Dave Brubeck rhythms.

Yesterday, I showed the class parts of three videos from YouTube showing some rhythmic traditions of Asia. The students asked me to post them to the blog so they could watch the whole thing and share them with their families. They really are fascinating!

The first is excerpts from the Malaysian World Drum Festival of 2008. This one caught my attention because my husband Jos just returned from a trip to Malaysia. There are unfortunately no captions describing the different groups, but you will see an incredible variety of percussive performances!

Here is an example of a Balinese gamelan, known as gamelan gong kebyar. Gamelan is a primary form of Indonesian traditional music. The gamelan consists of many instruments always played as an ensemble. Traditionally, the gamelan is sacred and may house spirits. Gamelan gong kebyar is performed on gamelans of primarily metal instruments, and is characterized by rapidly changing tempo (speed) and dynamics (volume).

Finally, an impressive performance of the Gamelan Kecak, or Ramayana Monkey Chant. This is a vocal gamelan tradition from Bali that is based on stories from the Ramayana. There are no instruments used--just voices!

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