Listening Lesson: Landscapes
LISTEN Audio Instructions
Target age range: K-6, with support for younger learners
Composers often depict images of nature or a landscape through music and sound. Listen to some music inspired by different landscapes.
A landscape is simply an area of land that we can view. Weather, lighting, and geographical features all make up a landscape. Today we will focus on five different landscapes:
Think about what a prairie looks like. Can you write down or say out loud some features of a prairie? Use the picture below for ideas.
Now let's listen to a piece of music about a prairie. As you listen, notice how the composer tried to capture the images of a prairie through sound. Draw your own prairie while listening, or think about how you would compose your own prairie music. Mediodia en el Llano, by Antonio Estevez:
Imagine the ocean. Write down or say out loud some things you see when you think of looking at the ocean. As you look at the picture below, also think about how you would try to create the image of the ocean through music and sound.
The composer John Luther Adams creates the vast, rolling sound of the ocean in his piece Become Ocean. The whole piece is quite long. The video below includes part of the music together with some information about how the piece was created and what people thought of it after hearing it for the first time. Become Ocean, explanation and excerpts:
Think about mountains. Words like "majestic" might come to mind. What other words can you use to describe the picture below?
The composer Alan Hovhaness wrote an entire symphony about mountains called Mysterious Mountain. Here is the first movement, or section, from that symphony. Draw some mountains, or imagine you are climbing them.
Think about the forest. The forest is full of so many things. How many forest-related things can you name?
The composer Robert Schumann wrote a set of nine piano pieces called Forest Scenes. Each short movement depicts a different part of the forest. Listen to this movement and see if it reminds you of something you see (and hear) in the forest. (Hint: it is an animal.) As you listen, draw your favorite forest animal.
Cities are landscapes too. Sometimes these images are called "cityscapes," since you may not see open land. Common features may include buildings and roads. The size of the city, the style of architecture, and the surrounding climate and natural features make each city unique and special.
Composer Jennifer Higdon wrote a piece called City Scape: Concerto for Orchestra. It has three different movements, or sections, and each part captures a different part of her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
Listen to the third movement, called Peach Tree Street. As you listen, notice the energy. Do you think Peach Tree Street is a busy street? Do you think there is a lot of traffic? Think about how you would try to write music to sound like the street you live on.
6. Finish with a few questions for journaling, discussion, or reflection.
• Which was your favorite landscape to look at?
• Which was your favorite to listen to?
• In your opinion, which composer best captured the spirit of their landscape?
• What landscape would you like to try to create through music?
Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.