This post relates to a current assessment task of mine where I need to write a scaffold for composition, as part of my Composition in Music Education unit. Here I will share my planning for how I will go about the task, incorporating my analysis to base my scaffolding off. I am envisaging the scaffold to be for stage 5 as part of a topic on the music of another culture.

Starting with a musical work I adored proved challenging because I adore a range of music from a vast amount of genres. In scope of the following assignment and a plethora of other reasons, I have decided to work with Gaelic music (Traditional Irish music in particular). I awake to the sound of my dad playing his Uilleann pipes* outside my bedroom window and I have been barraged by Irish music since I was born. Despite being forcefully woken up, I have an appreciation for Irish music that has been instilled in me from the beginning. Below are two musical works that I have extracted and analysed for the purpose of the task.

Straight off, you may notice a very big emphasis on melody, and how it is passed between instruments with variations. In addition to the music, I explored my father’s Irish music tune books to do further analysis. A great quote I found in Roche (1982, p. iii) is “many of our liveliest dance tunes are written in the minor modes”. Irish music takes a modal approach to scales, with Ionian, Dorian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian being the most common. A large number of old Irish airs do not include the notes fa or ti (or if they do, they are for passing notes) and use only 5 notes and the octave (Roche, 1982).

Below is a piece of music by Nightwish, which takes influence from Traditional Irish music. This aligns to the type of composition task I am scaffolding.

With all this in mind, I will develop a digital resource that scaffolds composing a musical work influenced by traditional Gaelic (Irish) music. One potential issue with using this music as a model is the melody-first approach. While composing melody first has amazing benefits, it could be harder for students who do not possess the ability to imagine chords or think with implied harmony. For this reason, I will tweak the scaffold to use a chords-first approach. After scaffolding the chord composition section, my next goal would be to represent the scales in an interactive way. I think creating my own iBooks widget using Hype would be a great way to do this.

*The Uilleann Pipes are the Irish bagpipes and they differ from the Scottish Highland Pipes in that the bag is inflated with bellows under the arm. They have more of a melodious quality compared to the Highland Pipes.

Reference List:

Roche, F. (1982). The Roche collection of traditional Irish music. Cork: Ossian Publication.

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