Listening Map Interpretation Project
MusE 265 ONLINE
Purpose of the Project:
The purpose of this project is to familiarize you with an approach commonly used to teaching music listening skills to novice learners. This approach is through listening maps.
Music listening is a skill – much like singing, playing, moving, reading/writing notes – that is developed over time and with much practice. Because listening is passive in nature (you can’t see or hear someone listening), it is a very difficult skill to teach.
Current music textbook series have helpful resources that allow music and non-music teachers to be successful in leading their learners through music listening selections. The listening maps are designed for young learners and contain obvious visual representations of the music through sketches and icons.
For our purpose, you will not be teaching or designing a listening map lesson. Instead, you will gain experience in interpreting listening maps, aurally and visually, that are appropriate for all ages and experience levels in music. This experience will prepare you for using listening maps to guide your learners in meaningful listening opportunities.
What is a Listening Map?
A listening map is a “visual sketch” of the music. It allows the listener to focus on musical elements through visual representation of what is being heard.
An effective map provides visual representation of important, obvious musical features in the piece.
Visual representations may be pictorial or graphic icons to depict melody, rhythm, themes, form, dynamics, tempo and other musical elements.
Most listening maps on today’s educational market target younger learners with colorful sketches, emojis, and interesting icons.
The pieces chosen for listening maps are some of the most common listening selections for children or novice listeners. These are pieces everyone should know as a developing musician.
Listening Map Example:
On the next page, you will find a listening map for “March” from the Nutcracker Suite, by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It is from a grade 3 music textbook. At first glance, the visual representation doesn’t mean much to the novice listener. But with repeated listening, the icons begin to make sense in how they represent what is going on in the music.
Here is a recording of the March as located on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maWN1MH9za4
You can find this music in many places (Google search, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, or in the music listening center in Bracken Library). I simply searched for ‘March from the Nutcracker’ and several popped up!
LISTEN to the music as you study the map. Listen several times. Do you see what you hear? How much can YOU “figure out”?
The Map Modeled:
In this YouTube Video, the instructor is pointing to the map and its symbols as the music plays. Watch carefully as the detailed pointing reveals all of the musical information on the map. View this several times and read the interpretation below. You will be doing this same exercise with your selected piece in your listening project.
Key to the Map*: The following musical elements are highlighted on the listening map:
Sections: the letters identifying the sections of music are found down the left margin. The letters used are AB and C. Some of the sections of music repeat. After listening to the piece, the actual form is ABACABA form. This is also known as Rondo Form. The map designer also shows same and different with different shapes and colors (red circles for A section; blue square for B section; and a green triangle for section C).
Phrases: each section has 2 horizontal boxes where the symbols are contained. These boxes represent the major phrases in the section.
Repeat Signs: there are repeat signs in both the A section and C section. These sections are played twice.
D.C. al Fine and Fine: these musical terms are written right on the map. D.C. means “da capo” or “return to the start/top/beginning”. Fine means stop or end.
Rhythm: Short and long sounds are shown by the size of the dots in both the A and B sections. The small dots represent short note values; the larger sized dots are long note values.
Pitch: High and low sounds are also shown by the dots and what level they are on. The direction of the melody is distinctly shown in the second part of the A section with the swirly going down and back up. In the B section, the dots show downwards motion and up and down swoop marks for melody lines. In section C, the melody starts high and goes low, as shown by the jagged lines.
Tone Color (Timbre): Pictures of instruments are shown for each section to represent what family of instruments is predominantly heard. In the A section, there are brass instruments (trumpet, trombone), followed by string (cello), and ending with a crash cymbal (percussion). Flutes (woodwinds) are used in section B and C.
Articulation (the way the notes are played): The dots show notes that are short, staccato and separated. The connected swirly lines in the second part of A show smooth, connected notes. The jagged lines (in C) are showing “forceful” and accented styles of notes.
*note: this key contains 5 different musical elements. In form, there are 4 sub concepts. This is more than will be expected of you in the project.
Preparing the Listening Map Interpretation Project
Step 1: Select a Map
In the module 5, there is a separate Listening Map Folder that contains 4 pre-selected listening maps and recordings for you to choose from. These are taken from current music series textbooks, some of which can be found in the educational resource area of Bracken library.
These listening maps are chosen for their obvious musical representations and short piece length. Each map contains at least 3 musical elements depicted visually.
Browse them all. You can find the recordings in several places, such as: Google search, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, or in the music listening center in Bracken Library. Listen to several of them to determine which one interests you the most.
Choose 1 map from this collection to interpret for this project. You may not select the March which was modeled for you.
Step 2: Look and Listen
Find your recording and listen repeatedly while you study the listening map. The visuals and icons might not seem obvious at first but will begin to make sense once you know the piece. This takes repeated practice. Listen again and again.
Try to point to the map while you listen to “see” what you “hear”.
Refer to your list of elements of music and what you know about them. Determine which musical elements are represented visually. For example:
Melody – is the pitch or tune shown as moving in different directions? Up, down, skips, steps?
Tempo – is fast or slow represented?
Rhythm – short and long sounds?
Form – are there letters or pictures to represent sections of music that are same or different?
Dynamics – ways of showing loud and soft?
Instrumentation (Timbre or Tone Color) – are there instruments or families shown?
Texture – thick (lots of sounds at once) or thin (one or just a few playing together)?
Articulation of notes – smooth sounds? Detached sounds?
Step 3: Prepare a Video
This is the aural interpretation of your project. Here, you will demonstrate that you can “see what you hear”.
Practice pointing to the map while listening to your piece many times.
When you fully understand how the visual map corresponds with the music, prepare a YouTube video of yourself pointing to the map while the music plays. This was modeled for you on the YouTube video with the March.
It must be very clear that you know exactly what is being heard and how and where it relates to what is seen on the map. The pointing must be clear and precise on the symbols, with no vagueness. Consider using a pointer or pencil in order to be very specific in your pointing. This does not have to be fancy or high-tech. Follow the model. The instructor recorded this on an i-phone, using her daughter’s white board, and placed on the kitchen counter!
Step 4: Written Information
This is the visual interpretation of your project.
Prepare a word document about your piece and application of it for submission. Include the following information:
Full title of selection (if it is from a collection of pieces, you must include that in the title)
Full Name (use correct spelling)
Dates of birth – death, year the piece was written in, and style period of composition (example: Baroque Era).
Interesting fact about the composer that you might share with a young learner or novice listener.
Key for icon/symbol descriptions. Your key must contain a detailed description of what symbols are used to represent specific musical elements. A minimum of 3 musical different elements and their symbols must be included in your list. This is modeled with the March example. The model had 5 different elements. One had 4 sub-concepts. Consider following the list in Step 2 above. You may also describe other helpful graphics, use of color, and markings contained on the map.
Integration idea – describe an academic subject that you might integrate this listening selection into for a future lesson. For example, for the piece Shenandoah, I might include a lesson on geography. Discuss the connections you would make in detail, minimum of 5 sentences.
Personal Reflection statement – It is valuable to the learning process when we pause and think about our learning. In this section, detail what you have learned through this project. Include your thoughts about the piece you selected, the value of the listening maps for a future teaching opportunity, how you might change the map if you used it in the future, what the most challenging part of the project was for you, what came rather easy, and your overall musical growth experience in completing this project. Be detailed and insightful. This should be a well-developed paragraph.
References – cite all materials you used to complete the project including the source where you found the music.
This project is worth 100 points. It contains a video demonstration and a written document.
Rubric categories for evaluating this project address:
Completing all required areas in the project
Content – accurate detail in all written portions, includes title, composer and integration sections
Aural Interpretation – clarity and accuracy in pointing to map with music
Written Interpretation – complete discussion of all visual representations of the map and overall design
Reflection – complete discussion of required areas
References – appropriate citations as needed
Technology – functionality of video – visual and aural components
** NOTE: This rubric list does not include a category for Professional Presentation. It is assumed that you will take time to check accuracy in spelling, grammar structure, punctuation, and effective format throughout the entire project; these are basic foundations of academic commitment and excellence. Therefore, rather than awarding you points for things that should be “given”, points will be deducted for careless errors in these categories, in increments of -5%, at the discretion of the instructor.