Music Notation and Music Education Part 3 - New Notation for Music Education
Animated Notation For Music Education
The animated graphic scores, performances and experiments, inspired a new system of music education called DabbledooMusic. This is a system that not only allows teachers and students to perform, compose and listen in every class, but it lets them work in a more creative, imaginative and educationally rewarding way. The system exists as a free online resource, which uses animated music notation not just in video form but as fully interactive scores. This new step makes the scores more adaptable, engaging and creative.
Redesigning The NotationIn the early experiments the effectiveness of animated symbols to communicate musical concepts was assessed. This began with the symbol itself and then extended to how it was animated. The analysis revealed that certain symbols and certain visual parameters were commonly link to particular sounds or musical gestures. For the purposes of education it was important to identify this style of animated notation. If a particular musical concept was being taught in class, the notation would have to be able to represent this in some way.
As discussed earlier, it is not enough to create a new notation for education and expect it to be used without explanation. It was decided that the notation would have to be presented in a way that was appealing to teachers and students in terms of design and usability. Visual artist Killian Redmond collaborated from an early stage with the new developments for education. A range of characters were created to accompany the animated notation with each character would represent a different musical area.
Developing a Full Curriculum
Introduction to Graphic NotationThe curriculum begins with an introduction to graphic notation, the connection between symbols and sounds. This is, unsurprisingly, an easy connection for young children to make. Most of their early learning either with language or mathematics is achieved through assigning meaning to symbols. In learning the alphabet the learn twenty-six symbols and associate sounds with each one. They later combine these sounds to make words and words to build sentences. This is the same approach taken in the first stage of the online resources. The user is presented with eight symbols.
Animated NotationOnce the concept of graphic notation has been introduced and the idea of dividing the class into different colour groups, animated notation can be introduced. 'The clock' is a simple way of arranging a class into different sounds and getting them to perform simple sound pieces together. As with each section of resources, a step by step approach is taken. The animated score begins with only two colours and only one sound at a time. As the class become comfortable with this process more colours are added until all four colours are represented with two sound playing simultaneously. 'The clock' is the most indeterminate section of the online resources. The animated score only serves to assign a duration to each sound, without dictating the content. This resource is of great use in a classroom setting as it is open to any kind of performance or composition class. Imagination is the key in this first section and this is an area where primary level student are at a great advantage.
RhythmThe next step in the online resources was to introduce the concept of rhythm. The class have been introduced to sequences of sound using graphic notation, now they will learn how consistently repeated sequences become rhythms. This is where we introduce our first character to the online resource to help the class understand and interact with rhythm. 'Igor the Great' is an expert percussionist, the inspiration for the rhythm resources and a giant octopus. In the resources, Igor acts as conductor, band leader and metronome for the users performances and compositions. As in the 'Front Door' section, each sound is in a separate box and the score is read from right to left. New symbols are used here to deal with percussive sounds.
Try Igor Here
MelodyAnother character accompanies the melody section. A drumming octopus can only really be followed by a piano playing cat. In this section, the same stave-like notation from Moving Shapes Colours is used to communicate relative pitch to the user. We have already established in the 'Front Door' section that height and pitch are related but in this section we add the rhythmic element and the tonic solfa. The decision to include the tonic solfa came after a survey of different primary level music curricula from europe and in particular, the Irish model. It was clear that adding tonic solfa would not only give teachers more confidence but allow the students to gain valuable understanding of scales through singing. As in the other sections of resources the idea of melody is introduced gradually with only three notes. The next stage adds two more notes to make a pentatonic scale and the final adds another three to make a full major scale.
Listen to Jazz Cat Here
Making it InteractiveAlthough animated notation offers many advantages to conventional notation in a classroom setting, it soon appeared that it was not enough to have fixed video scores for classroom use. Firstly, it would require a huge number of scores, each covering different lessons, and secondly, the fixed nature of the scores didn't allow any flexibility for interaction. As discusses above, the importance of composition is equal to performance and listening, so allowing the user to create their own animated graphic score was the obvious next step. This was accomplished with help from a software developer mainly working in html 5. These interactive scores allow users to create their own arrangement of sounds through the established colour scheme, change the speed of the animation and control the number of repetitions for the overall structure. This level of interactivity also means that teachers have access to a huge range of possibilities within each interactive resource.
Try the clock here