I worked with year 4 and year 6 children at Holmfirth J&I School to create sounds and music for the soundtrack of Our Darkness and Light Animation. The children had no instruments but used body percussion, voice and found sounds supported by my cello. Ideas were developed as layers which would be manipulated into a soundtrack.
We used the poems the children created with Louise Fazackerley, at an earlier workshop, as a starting point, enjoying the sounds of words and phrases such as ‘carnivorous coniferous’, and exploring the meaning and emotion behind them. I had also written a simple chorus using repeated phrases from the children’s poems (All the hills will like to know, where they lead to or where they go?) for the children to sing. The children were so enthusiastic that we were able to explore singing in parts and as a round.
The children worked in small groups and each group had one of the poems. They chose a line or words that they particularly liked and experimented with rhythms, sounds, melodies and how to create mood, emotion and energy. Some sounds were effects like tapping/clapping to produce a rain sound and other sounds were more atmospheric like everyone whispering different words – quite spooky! Each group came up with their own version that they performed to the class and then developed their ideas, sometimes using the other children to create a bigger sound or more variety; sometimes helping with melody with my cello; sometimes stripping it right back to hear the words more clearly.
The children visited musician and sound engineer James Mabbett at Holmfirth Tech to record their phrases, songs and sounds. It was a new experience to them all and they tried really hard to be still and quiet and were very patient as well as remembering their sounds from our workshop day.
This project really opened the eyes of the children to the breadth and potential of music and sound with explorations of rhythm, rapping and using classical instruments in none classical ways and in the use of technology to record, layer and manipulate sound. The children absolutely rose to the challenge and were excited by new ideas. This was such a creative way to explore music in and out of the classroom.
A big thank you to James Mabbett who has pulled the work together to create such a fantastic soundtrack for the animation and to all the creative yr 4 and yr 6 children at Holmfirth J,I and N School.