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The Arts exemplars: Music

Creating
ACCESS THE ARTS EXEMPLARS ONLINE AT www.tki.org.nz/r/assessment/exemplars/arts/

LEVEL

Composing a Hip-hop Song


THE LEARNING CONTEXT
This teacher's intended outcomes were for the students to: listen to and analyse a popular New Zealand hip-hop song, noting the features and characteristics of the music develop their ideas individually and in groups to create a group composition in the style of the music being studied prepare and rehearse for a performance of their original hip-hop song perform their original song before an audience and reflect on the experience. The students can all play at least one musical instrument, and most have school-based tuition from itinerant music teachers. Their teacher is an enthusiastic musician and specialist music teacher who incorporates audio recording sessions of student work into their programme so that they can experience the professional aspects of music making. The students learn in, through, and about a range of music from past and present contexts. Group composition and performance also feature in the programme. The music room is equipped with a keyboard laboratory, stereo with CD player, video monitor, electronic instruments, and computers. The teacher began by introducing the genre of hip-hop. He told the students they were going to create and perform an original hip-hop song based on features in the song "Chains" by DLT and Che Fu. He set them some focus points for listening to, analysing, and discussing the song. These included the dominant images, how the music gives expression to the lyrics, and the distinctive musical features representative of hip-hop. In groups, the students took ideas from "Chains" to make their own song. One group worked on a short melodic riff in two parts based on the keyboard riff in "Chains". Another group worked on the rap and chorus hook, and others worked on drums, turntabling, and bass and rhythm guitar. The teacher circulated, providing feedback to help them to develop their ideas. The groups then combined their musical contributions to create their song and added break-dancing to complete the performance. The students rehearsed fully and then presented their performance to an audience of peers. The audience joined in by dancing with the music and then questioned them about their experience of making and performing a hip-hop song. The students have also performed at the launch of the resource Sweet: A Taste of New Zealand Music.

Teacher-student conversations
Before composing, and during the listening and analysis: Teacher: Caspar: Teacher: Daniel: Teacher: Whitiora: Teacher: What's changed in the chorus? It gets more bassier ... the bass comes over well. Yeah. I noticed that the thing that's been going all the way through changes. You can hear scratching .... You can hear that now, but you can't really hear it in the verse. Okay. Good man. What else? What about the vocal content? It's got a little bit of echo. Yep, they've put an effect on the vocals. ... . It's a bit of delay. It's bouncing back. And the vocal's changed. How's it changed? The rap's drowning out the sound. And when it comes to the chorus, you can hear it better. ... But something's happening to the voice? ... There's another voice coming in and harmonising.

Mu: Teacher: Rachael:

WHERE TO NEXT?
The next learning steps for these students could be to: evaluate their performance (for example, by identifying their strengths and areas for improvement after viewing a video recording) compare and contrast their original composition with hiphop from New Zealand and overseas appropriately notate their original song (for example, as lyrics with a chord chart) compose, perform, and record songs in another genre or style (for example, reggae, rhythm and blues, ballad).

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The Arts exemplars: Music

Creating
ACCESS THE ARTS EXEMPLARS ONLINE AT www.tki.org.nz/r/assessment/exemplars/arts/

LEVEL

Composing a Hip-hop Song


CURRICULUM LINKS
The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum Achievement Objectives Developing Practical Knowledge in Music (PK) Students will identify through focused listening, and experiment with, a range of patterns, effects, sound qualities, and structural devices. Developing Ideas in Music (DI) Students will use musical elements, instruments, and technologies to improvise and compose simple musical pieces. Communicating and Interpreting in Music (CI) Students will prepare, rehearse, present, and evaluate brief music performances. Understanding Music in Context (UC) Students will identify and investigate characteristics of music associated with particular contexts, purposes, and styles in past and present cultures. The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum, page 59 www.tki.org.nz/r/arts/curriculum/statement/pg59_e.php

REFERENCES
Ministry of Education (2000). The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media. Ministry of Education / Music Industry Commission (2002). Sweet: A Taste of New Zealand Music (Edition 1). Auckland: Music Industry Commission.

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The Arts exemplars: Music

Creating
ACCESS THE ARTS EXEMPLARS ONLINE AT www.tki.org.nz/r/assessment/exemplars/arts/

LEVEL

Composing a Hip-hop Song


WHAT THE WORK SHOWS: The students created and performed an original hip-hop song based on the features they analysed in
"Chains" by DLT and Che Fu.

Progress Indicator
Analysing and Appreciating
Identifies and describes the musical characteristics of a hip-hop song (CI, UC) The teacher establishes the genre of hip-hop and sets the students some focus points for listening to and analysing "Chains" by DLT and Che Fu. They are motivated to do this, as they are to create their own song based on the ideas they develop from this exercise. The students listen and follow a lyric sheet. The teacher then asks them about the meaning of the song, its purpose, and its effect. Individual students accurately analyse the intent of the song (that is, to highlight the impact of the Rainbow Warrior incident on New Zealand and the more general issue of nuclear testing in the Pacific). Through questioning and discussion, the teacher and the students deconstruct the song, describing features of: the vocal styles, notably the rapping and singing the instrumentation, that is, the drums, guitars, scratching, and keyboard. The teacher encourages the students to focus their listening by replaying a section of the song. The students accurately identify changes in instrument techniques and note the melody used in the chorus. They analyse the chorus in more detail, describing features such as "more bass", "more scratching", and "echo on the vocals", which the teacher relates to the use of delay in the recording. Finally, the teacher draws out ideas on the shift from rap to harmonised vocals in the chorus. The students provide all their responses in a focused and knowledgeable way.

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Progress Indicator
Creating
Selects, combines, and structures original musical ideas for a hip-hop song based on an investigation of hip-hop style (PK, DI) A group of boys who are the guitarists and vocalists have been working on the lyrics and chord structure for the chorus. Here, they develop a chorus hook for their song. The teacher encourages and advises them. One boy adds a vocal echo/harmony part, and the chorus is complete. The group has carefully chosen guitar chords to shift from the intense, two-chord minor-feel verse to an open, major-feel chorus reflecting the words "We can fly away". This is clever composition writing. Next, the rapper adds his rap and the other vocalists add some "chorusing" for impact on key words in this stylistic syncopated chanting. They know and understand the genre of rap and can perform it well. Two girls have listened to the rap and chorus chord structure and worked on their own to develop riffs based on ideas from "Chains". Now they share their ideas, select the best, and combine their parts to harmonise in an original two-part riff on violin and cello. The riff they have added works perfectly as it combines long notes moving in contrary motion and a small "turnaround idea" where the voices stop at the end of the phrase "We can fly away". This complements the smooth melody line the boys have developed. It has a strong sense of phrase, harmonic structure, and melodic shape. Their verse riff has a strongly syncopated rhythmic pattern and is harmonised as a two-part chord, its notes played a fifth apart. The effect of this clever idea is to make the string parts stand out as they cut through the guitar chords.
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The Arts exemplars: Music

Creating
ACCESS THE ARTS EXEMPLARS ONLINE AT www.tki.org.nz/r/assessment/exemplars/arts/

LEVEL

Composing a Hip-hop Song


Progress Indicator
Playing
Rehearses a group composition from memory, using suitable instrumental techniques and developing musicianship (PK, CI) The teacher works the audio mixer, and the students complete microphone vocal checks and sound checks for turntable, guitars, drums, violin, and cello. The dancers have developed their breaking for this work. The students go through the song many times, perfecting their performance. The clip shows a section of the song during rehearsal.

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Progress Indicator
Playing
Performs a group composition from memory and reflects on the experience (CI) The students perform their composition with finesse, showing confidence and competence as they proudly present their song to an audience of peers. All aspects of the composition and performance come together, and the audience shows its appreciation by getting into the whole dance genre and dancing with the music. At the end of the performance, the audience questions the performers about the experience of making and presenting a hip-hop song. The performers respond to questions about the best aspects of performing, coping with nerves, and how the music impacts on their lives. Individual students respond with their views on this rewarding, positive learning experience. Their self-esteem is high, their co-operative skills are well honed, and their musical skills and knowledge bases well developed for future composing and performing.

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