Another beautiful morning greeted us- we're beginning to think it is always sunny at Carntyne Primary School! The children were as enthusiastic as ever in warm up games designed to strengthen inner rhythm and ensemble playing as we passed a pulse round the circle. This week we harnessed the school's percussion collection, and by 9.30 we were all well and truly awake following a group improvisation of cymbal clangs, clave taps, hand chime tones, maraca shakes and cabasa grooves beautifully conducted by one of the children.
Last week we introduced the concept of graphic scores and we developed this further in an exercise making vocal sounds to graphic symbols on the whiteboard. A few of the children took it in turns to lead this, choosing which symbol we'd perform and also using their bodies to indicate changes in pitch and volume.
Afterwards we split the children into their different plant/lichen/moss/tree species groups and finished completing the sheets in their packs from last week. We're really grateful for the support we've been given by the class teachers at Carntyne, as all the children had spent time over the last week researching their species and answering the question sheets. We discussed the colour, texture, appearance and habitat of each and also the children's emotional response to the photos- Foxgloves are 'magenta, delicate and maybe a bit furry to touch, pretty but a bit scary as they are poisonous', Bladderwrack is 'slimy and long but crunchy when it dries out with air pockets and long straggly bits' whilst Black Witches' Butter fungi is 'like an old black crumpled bag and makes us feel sick!'
We started thinking about how the children might create music to accompany each species and each group came up with a graphic symbol to describe their plant. We performed these vocally as a group with strong ideas emerging; a groovy curved repeated symbol to depict the funky fungi Lemon Disco, a long traily descending line for Old Man's Beard lichen and a crazy spiky shape for Electrified Cat's Tail Moss!
In the final part of the session the children were given free rein to start planning their musical compositions. Each group came up with a short poem or storyline based on their species and began to experiment with sounds and symbols to depict the words musically. All the compositions that Alice and I play in our TRANSPLANTED programme are written to fit on the one side of paper (as this is one of the hallmarks of Baroque composer James Oswald's plant pieces). The Carntyne P.5 and P.6 plant pieces will follow suit, although we did stretch the rules slightly, giving each group a very long piece of wallpaper that they can use to record their graphic scores.... we are very excited to see what they all come up with!
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.