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The Orchestra Sings

Melodies Tell a Story

Aim: How does music help to tell a story?
Summary: We explore melody, harmony, and accompaniment as elements of storytelling in music.
Standards: National 1, 2, 7; 8, 10, 11; NYC 1, 2
Vocabulary: accompaniment, dynamics, tempo

The Firebird Melody

  • Play Track 50.
    • In The Firebird Suite Finale, Stravinsky wanted to create a big finish. To do this, he repeats the melody, but changes a few things each time it repeats. What elements of the music does he change to keep you listening?
    • How does the melody change? How does the accompaniment change?
    • How many times does the music change in a big way? As the music plays, raise your hand each time you hear a change.
    • What else do you notice?

Connecting the Music with The Firebird Story

  • Read The Firebird story in The Firebird Story and Listening Map (PDF).
    • The finale music accompanies the final scene of the ballet, where the spell is broken, and “the princess, her friends, and all of the stone statues come back to life. Ivan and the princess live happily ever after.”
  • Listen to Track 50.
    • How much of the music accompanies the stone statues coming back to life? What about the music makes you think so?
    • How much of the music accompanies the prince and princess celebrating their happy victory? What about the music makes you think so?

Follow a Listening Map and Create a Map Key

  • Play Track 47.
  • As you listen, follow along with the listening map in The Firebird Story and Listening Map (PDF). For more information on the entire piece, refer to Tracks 48–52, and the Listening Map Key (PDF).
    • Follow the path of the music with your finger as we listen to The Firebird Suite Finale.
    • What instruments are playing the melody?
    • What instruments are playing the accompaniment?
    • What else do you notice in the music?
Literacy Link

The Firebird

The Firebird by Robert D. San Souci, ISBN #0-8037-0800-9

Firebird by Rachel Isadora, ISBN #0-399-22510-2

Dance Me a Story by Jane Rosenberg, ISBN #0-500-01359-4

The Firebird and Other Russian Fairy Tales by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, ISBN #0-670-31544-3

The Firebird by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Vladimir Vagin, ISBN #0-06-028538-9, hardcover ISBN #0-06-028539-7

Downloadable PDFs

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