This project explores the role of the bagpipes on the battlefield and introduces pupils to some musical styles used for writing traditional melodies. Pupils will learn about the terrifying role that pipers had in WW1 and the Battle of the Somme in where they were ordered, totally unarmed, to lead men ‘over the top’ into no man’s land and boost morale in the trenches.
This topic links to Remembrance Day services, something pupils will have probably experienced personally. Make the connection between the music of the pipes when remembering war heroes today.
This project can act as a standalone project, where pupils write a melody in a traditional style and then go on to arrange it for a small ensemble with accompaniment. It can also act as preparatory work to the film music project, Somme Unseen, by giving pupils an opportunity to start some melodic ideas that they can develop for that project.
This project would suit pupils in the GCSE/Higher age rang and those with suitable musical and compositional ability in lower years.
The instrumentation for these compositions and arrangements should reflect the resources available in the class. We recommend that pupils compose their pieces individually for this project, unless working with younger age ranges, and arrange their tunes for mini ensembles that can be performed by fellow class members.
3-4 hours spread over hourly lessons. (Or less if this is preparatory work for Somme Unseen.)
- To understand the role of bagpipes in war
- To learn about traditional styles of music and tunes
- To make an arrangement of a melody for instrumentalists in the class
- To write a melody in a traditional style using ornamentation with some accompaniment.
Equipment and Resources:
- Access to the Sounding the Somme website and internet
- Whiteboard and pens
- Keyboards or other instruments for composing
- Computers with composing software (Logic, Pro Tools, Que Base, Audacity, Sibelius) (Optional)
- Manuscript paper
- If time in the classroom is short, or when working with older pupils, this lesson could be done in less time – give a brief introduction using some of the resources and ask pupils to write a tune in 30 minutes and see what they come up with.
- If you are doing this project in the autumn, be sure to remind pupils to go to a Remembrance Day service, or watch the coverage from the Cenotaph in London on the television.
And finally, don’t forget to take a look at the resources for all of the Sounding the Somme projects, you may find something useful elsewhere. When you have finished your compositions, please do share them with us.