Claudio Monteverdi (with a teacher)
This activity is for classroom use. Your teacher will have further material to use alongside the clips and information below
SECTION 1: Timeline treasure hunt
Several pieces of information have been hidden around the room. The information describes the life of Claudio Monteverdi, an important composer who lived over 420 years ago. Can you find all the pieces of information and arrange them into a timeline?
SECTION 2: Listening timeline
You are going to listen to three pieces of music by Monteverdi. All three pieces, or types of pieces, are mentioned in the timeline. Are you able to work out when each piece of music might have been composed?
What are you listening out for? Look back at the information in the timeline and work out what are the differences between the pieces of music that are mentioned!
SECTION 3: Musical string
Monteverdi was an important composer as he helped change the style of music between a period of history called the Renaissance and another called the Baroque. This was a time when people’s taste in music began to change. Some people liked the music that already existed, and others, such as Monteverdi, wanted to create a new style! Listen to these two madrigals by Monteverdi. What would you say is the main difference between them?
You are going to receive a very long piece of string! Are you able to arrange it in a way that shows the difference between the polyphonic and homophonic textures in these two madrigals?
You might like to use some scissors to cut your string into smaller pieces, but be careful that you don’t make the pieces too small as it is harder to put the string back together!
SECTION 4: Modern Monteverdi
Audio 5 is an example of how Monteverdi wanted to make his music more modern – he wanted to emphasise the story and and bring out emotions through his music. Listen again to Audio 5 and answer these two questions:
- What does Monteverdi do to make the story/words easy to understand?
- What emotions is Monteverdi expressing or wanting us to feel?
Thinking about the use of texture (homophony and polyphony) will help you answer question 1!
Some of Monteverdi’s madrigals are so descriptive in their story-telling that he asked for the singers to perform actions to bring them to life! Using a translation, are you able to act out the story about the sad nymph from Audio 5?
Dissonance: Sounds that clash and can be uncomfortable to listen to
Dynamics: The volume (degrees of loud and quiet) in a piece of music
Homophony: Music that has a melody and accompaniment within parts that move together
Madrigal: A Renaissance part-song for several voices, usually unaccompanied
Polyphony: Music that combines two or more musical lines simultaneously
Texture: The different layers or parts in a piece of music, and how they fit together
All media credits – titles, composers, artists, sources etc. – may be found in the Teacher Sheet, accessed from the Info box at the top of this page.