An activity for use with the Virtual Gramophone website
In this activity, students will analyze and compare two songs from different periods, examining theme, style, and historical and technological context. This lesson explores music from Canada's past and gives students the opportunity to use sound recordings from Library and Archives Canada's (LAC) Virtual Gramophone website.
Music and Language Arts; Ages 12-14
Fine Arts Outcomes (Music):
In completing this activity, students will:
Language Arts Outcomes:
O/V (Oral and Visual Communication):
These Language Arts Outcomes correspond to:
Students will analyze and compare two songs from different periods, examining theme, style, and historical and technological context.
Sheet Music from Canada's Past
To gain full benefit from this project, students should be aware of instrument families and the elements of music. Students should also be familiar with the Internet and common browsing terms and tools.
Part 1: Music Analysis and Comparison
Facilitate a whole-class brainstorm to identify the topics, issues and themes that are the focus of the students' current popular songs:
To introduce students to the Virtual Gramophone site, have them listen to several songs about different subjects (love, war, remembrance, religion) from the site. Some suggestions:
Briefly discuss the differences between music from the past and music today. Students should be prepared to bring a piece of recently produced music to class for the next lesson to begin the work of the unit.
Choose a recently produced song that the students will enjoy. After listening to it carefully, the class should complete the song analysis on Student Handout 1 together. A class note-taker could record the various student responses.
Small-Group WorkSong 2:
Students should choose a song from the Virtual Gramophone website that has the same theme as their first song (love, heartbreak, happiness). After listening to it carefully they should complete the analysis as for song 1.
Students should then complete a chart of similarities and differences between the two songs. For each similarity or difference, they should think of reasons these elements have remained the same or changed.
Part 2: Historical and Technical Context
Students should complete Handout 2.
History: Students should consider the following questions:
Students should research and make a chart of major events around the time of the two songs they have chosen.
See the History page on the Virtual Gramophone for help.
Technology: Students probably noticed the different sound qualities of the old and new recordings. They should compare the recording qualities of three songs:
Following this, they should visit the Technical Notes page of the Virtual Gramophone website and research or brainstorm reasons for these differences. Consider:
Students could create cover art for the songs they have chosen (see the Musical Art lesson).
Notes on Enriching this Activity