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Speak Your Music

Introduction

Mazz Swift, Clay Ross, and Sarah Elizabeth Charles share their backgrounds and processes for creating music.

Your Assignment

  1. Watch the video in which Mazz Swift, Clay Ross, and Sarah Elizabeth Charles introduce themselves and their musical stories.
  2. Note how, for each artist, the purpose of music has deeply personal origins. Look at how all three of their perspectives exist in dialogue with one another.
  3. After watching the introductory video, answer the following questions about how music plays a role in your life and identity:
    • What are some of the activities that you like to do every day if you can?
    • How do you like to interact with your family and friends? What do you do together?
    • When you think about your identity in the world, what do you want people to know about you?
    • How does music play a part in how you see yourself? When do you listen to or play music?
    As you think about these questions, you will start to discover what you would like to express through your art, and some of the first steps to take as you start creating.

Explore Other Parts of Speak Your Music

Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson One: Finding a Theme

Mazz shares her distinct approach to using improvisation as a way of generating musical ideas to use in composition.

Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Two: Tweaking, Tinkering, and Messing with Your Music

Mazz shares her recommendations for manipulating and organizing basic musical ideas in order to explore different compositional approaches.

Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Three: Finished! For Now …

This video features the questions that Mazz uses to determine whether a piece of music is done or requires further editing.

Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson One: Building a Frame

Clay introduces his band Ranky Tanky and talks about the origins of their song “All For You.”

Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson Two: Making It Yours

Clay breaks down how he used source material from the Gullah tradition and West African music to create his original song.

Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson Three: A Life of Its Own

Clay explores how “All For You” evolved into new shapes as Ranky Tanky collaborated with other artists.

Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson One: My Big Idea

Sarah describes how she uses a big question to spark the idea for a new song that explores the relationship between all human beings.

Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson Two: My Musical Brainstorm

Sarah demonstrates how she creates a musical foundation for her new piece, and then shapes a melody on top of that foundation.

Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson Three: Growing My Idea

Sarah explains how her collaboration with a musical friend helped to shape the final version of her new piece.

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