Johann Sebastian Bach (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: Describe what you hear!

You are going to listen to three different pieces of music. In how much detail can you describe each one? What does the music make you think of?

Audio 1

Audio 2

Audio 3


SECTION 2: ‘Fact Smugglers’

You are going to play a game called ‘Fact Smugglers’, which relies on you knowing your stuff about Johann Sebastian Bach. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything yet as you will receive all the information you need – but be warned, there may also be some false facts!

Listen to your teacher to find out more…


SECTION 3: Music in pictures

You are going to listen to two famous pieces by Bach. Your teacher will give you a piece of paper that you have to fold in half. On the top half of the paper you will draw an image that shows the shape of the music of the first piece (Audio 1). On the bottom half you will draw an image that shows the shape of the music of the second piece (Audio 2). At the end, look at both of your drawings. What are the main differences between the two?

Audio 4

Audio 5


SECTION 4: Overlapping Lines

The second piece you have just listened to uses a style – or texture – called polyphony. This is where different lines of music that each sound complete on their own also fit together. Bach was clever in being able to compose this kind of music so well. In Audio 5, a piece he wrote for organ has been ‘orchestrated’ by Elgar, a later composer who used a big orchestra – so he could give the musical lines to different instruments. You are now going to have a go at creating your own piece of polyphonic music.

Listen to your teacher for more information!

Image 1


Articulation: The way that notes are performed and move from one to the next – e.g. smooth or bouncy

Dynamics: The volume (degrees of loud and quiet) in a piece of music

Graphic score: A representation of music through the use of visual symbols that are not traditional ‘music notation’

Pitch: Whether a note is high or low

Polyphony: Music that combines two or more musical lines simultaneously

Tempo: The speed of a piece of music

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.