Performing Arts for Educators

In the shady depths of the Bohemian forest, two springs gush forth, the one warm and spouting, the other cool and tranquil. They trickle over rocky beds through the undergrowth before uniting to form a larger brook that flows along glistening in the rays of the morning sun. It continues flowing on until it flows into the river Vltava. The journey continues through Bohemia’s valleys: the river flows through wooded areas where the hunters’ horns are heard; it flows through pastures and lowlands, where a wedding feast is celebrated with song and dancing the polka. Night falls and the haunting wood and water nymphs revel in the moonlight. The river glides on through the night past fortresses and castles that are witnesses of the past glory and history of bygone ages. At the St. John Rapids the waters become turbulent, weaving through the cataracts, before crashing through the rocky chasm into a broad and calm expanse beyond. It glides majestically onward before disappearing in the far distance.

Complete this guided listening activity by filling in your responses:

1. When the music begins we hear the sound of water bubbling up from springs and creating little rippling streams deep in the forest. The three main orchestral instruments creating this effect are:

2. In the first 90 seconds of video you see the violins being played in two different ways. What are they and how does this change the sound? The musical term ‘pizzicato’ is relevant here.

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3. The music captures the journey of the river. Write down the video time code for each of these stages of the journey identifying where the musical passage begins and where it ends.

a. Two springs beginning in the forest and bubbling over rocks:

b. The streams have grown and become a gliding river:

c. The river passes through dark forests where hunters’ horns can be heard:

d. The river passes through pastures and lowlands where a wedding feast is being held:

e. Night falls and visions of castles and fortresses under the moonlight create a haunting reminder of past glories:

f. Day comes and the river continues on. Suddenly the river becomes turbulent it strikes the rapids and chasms. The turbulent passage of music:

g. Past the turbulence, the river widens again and flows majestically through the city of Prague and on into the distance. The majestic river passage of music:

4. In musical compositions a theme is a recognisable melody on which the whole composition is based. The theme is repeated in various configurations several times throughout the composition. Listen to the passage of music you hear at 1:27 – 2:18 time code. At what time code/s does this occur again?

5. The French horn (an orchestral instrument) features prominently in one passage of the music. What is the time code? What do the French horns represent in the musical story?

6. Aim to identify how the composer has worked with the elements of music to create the effects that bring to life the changing nature of the river. The video will be helpful. For example, an increase in volume (musical element: dynamics) may help create the sense of the river widening and becoming mightier.


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