Outer Space: Planets (with a teacher)
This activity is for classroom use. Your teacher will have further material to use alongside the clips and information below.
Listen to this music. How would you describe it? What does it make you think of?
Try to give a reason for what it makes you think of.
Let’s see how this music changes in dynamics – when do you think the music is at its loudest? Your teacher will divide the room into four areas: Area 1 = Quiet; Area 2 = Medium; Area 3 = Loud; Area 4 = Really loud. While the music is playing you have to move between the areas depending on how loud you think the music is!
There is a famous work by Gustav Holst called The Planets. Holst composed seven pieces of music for seven of the planets in our solar system – which planets do you think he wrote music for? How many planets are there in our solar system? Which planet do you think he missed out?
Holst gave each planet a character/mood based on its name. Did you know that the planets are named after Roman Gods? Have a look at this picture and read the description that Holst gave to the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter.
The character of each planet is very different! Listen to the following extracts from Holst’s work and see if you can match each one to the correct planet.
You are now going to hear the tracks again but played in a random order. Make up actions / mimes that match the correct character to the music when you hear it.
Now that you know the sorts of musical ideas used by Holst for his Planets, it’s your turn! We’re going to compose music for Saturn. Here is Saturn:
Holst described this planet as the ‘Bringer of Old Age’. What sort of musical ideas can you think of to bring this planet to life?
Think about all the different musical elements explored so far, such as dynamics and tempo, and how Holst used them.
Dynamics: The volume (degrees of loud and quiet) in a piece of music
Rhythm: A combination of notes that are of different lengths or durations
Pitch: Whether a note is high or low
Tempo: The speed of a piece of music
Ostinato: A short repeated rhythmic or melodic idea
Crescendo: When music gradually gets louder
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.