6th December 2002 at 00:00
Many kinds of musical event mimic the functions of the body. Younger children can explore ways of communicating with the deaf. One group of pupils sits on one side of a screen with some objects, each of which has its own musical motif to be played on a xylophone. A receiving group sits on the other side and has to identify which object is being "named" - hamburger, hot dog and ice cream among them.

Older pupils can make musical "heartpacers" by using a programmable keyboard to vary the speed at which a recorded tune is played. One group of percussionists has to follow the new irregular "heartbeat", while a second group has to maintain the original pulse. This is a good introduction to some of the underlying ideas of minimalism. They can also make "regenerative" music by improvising or composing short sections that can be "implanted" into a previously composed piece. As parts of the original music "degenerate" by being played much quieter or slower, the new sounds must take their place and still sound right - the challenge being to keep the music alive during the transformation.

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