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Week 2 @ Carntyne Primary

Main Aims

  • Continuing on from last week, show how composers can describe the many characteristics of plants

  • Introduce concept of graphic scores

  • Divide classes into groups and lucky dip a native Scottish plant that will be the inspiration behind their own composition

We started our second lot of sessions with Carntyne Primary P5&6 with a group warm up which included creating the train sounds from this fantastic graphic vocal score

Sonia and I continued presenting miniatures from TRANSPLANTED.

We played Sundew to show how Judith Weir was inspired by this plants habitat and how she uses a musical narrative throughout the work, the class was divided at the conclusion…did the fly get away or not?!

Following on with Sneez-wort by James Oswald, the first movement slimy and full of the cold, trailing into a rustic gig like movement that is full of musical sneezes – the students were asked to jump up when they heard a sneeze. It was like being in a room full of little red fleas as they responded with zest to this challenge.

The Changeless and the Changed by David Fennessy was next, music about the very rare St Kilda Dandelion. Dave was inspired by the remote and wild nature of this plant’s habitat. We asked the students to create abstract, textured line drawings in response to the eerie harmonic string playing. They really engaged with this activity and responded with great imagination to the music, saying they could hear the water and the waves crashing around Hirta. Watch a video of the students at work here.

Many of the line drawings they created in response to Dave's music could work as graphic scores, and so it was a good time to introduce Heartsease by Hanna Tuulikki, a composer who doesn’t write music down in a conventional way.

Now it was time for Carntyne to get creative. After a quick introduction to Ghillie Dhu, Plantlife’s sprite of the celtic rainforest we played his theme music (the Brilliante mov of Thistle by James Oswald) to accompany a lucky dip. Plants were selected out of a mug to decide what material groups would be working on over the next few weeks. Their creative activities are to include - textured artwork, creative writing, graphic scores and musical performance.

Sonia and I had created 9 plant packs full of pictures, information, question sheets, specimens and most importantly Ghillie Dhu stickers. Most of the species were from the Celtic Rainforest as we wish to align our work with this environment focus of Plantlife’s education work.

Bladderwrack is the odd one out, but we couldn’t resist encouraging the creation of a composition about the sea. The others can be found in the Celtic Rainforest, although some species are rarer than others.

The full list of plants includes:

Thistle, Foxglove, Lemon Disco, Black Witches' Butter, Sessile Oak, Old Man’s Beard, Tree Lungwort, Bladderwrack, Electrified Cat’s Tail Moss

Students were left with a series of questions to answer - about the plant itself and some to encourage more create responses, relating to what the plant looks like and how the colours, textures might relate to different sounds or emotions. The final activity was to write a story or poem about the plant.

We look forward to next week to see how they got on with these activities and we will use their responses as a starting point for a new musical language and the basis of 9 new compositions!

We would like the acknowledge that this project is supported by the Glasgow Natural History Society and our partners in the project are EMS and Plantlife Scotland. Thanks to Carntyne Primary and teachers Judith Stone and Jessica Comb.

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