Music at School

Careers in Music: Cydonie Banting

As one of our regular features we’re looking at what former pupils are currently doing with their music and this post is all about Composer Cydonie Banting.

Left Cams Hill: 2010

Currently: studying for a Masters in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

Path: After studying as a clarinettist on the Hampshire Specialist Music Course at Peter Symonds College, she studied music at Oxford where she graduated with a first class honours degree. Cydonie is a composer whose pieces of music have been performed by groups including the BBC Singers, the Cavaleri Quartet, and Oxford’s Ensemble Isis.

Here is one of her compositions:

1st Movement, Symphony No. 40 by Mozart

The key to understanding this piece of music is to understand the structure, and what happens in each section. There are four movements to whole symphony:

  1. FIRST MOVEMENT Molto allegro (very fast) – sonata form
  2. SECOND MOVEMENT Andante (walking pace) – sonata form
  3. THIRD MOVEMENT Allegretto (between Andante and allegro) minuet and trio form
  4. FOURTH MOVEMENT Allegro assai (very, very fast) – sonata form

Although only the first movement is our set work, it’s helpful to see that three, out of four movements, are also in sonata form. So what is sonata form?

Sonata form has three main sections: Exposition, Development and Recapitulation.

Here is what happens in each section:

  • Exposition – this is the main “story”
    • first subject (theme or character) in G minor
      • starts quietly (p)
      • transition which is marked f (loud) and is in Bb major.
    • second subject starts in bar 17 and is played on violin
      • second subject is in Bb Major
    • Codetta to finish off the exposition.
      • Towards the end the key changes back from Bb major to G minor.
    • Exposition is repeated.
  • Development – developing the exposition
    • based on the 1st subject
    • more chromatic
    • starts in F# minor but moves through lots of other keys
  • Recapitulation – think “recap”. It’s the exposition that comes back.
    • a recap of the exposition with longer sections and different keys
    • At the end there is a coda (a longer version of the codetta from the exposition) and the piece finishes by alternating between the chords V (D) and I (Gm) before reaching a perfect cadence.

Star Wars

The long anticipated Star Wars film arrives in our cinemas in December but the trailers are already doing the social media rounds. This week a new trailers was released that contains only the music. Here it is:

So what is the music that you’re listing to? Well, basically its a rework of some of the major themes from previous films, with some added genius!

At the beginning of the trailer you can here the “Han Solo and Princess Leia” theme from The Empire Strikes back, only altered:

The problem, film buffs, is that this is the wrong theme entirely. I mean, this is the Han Solo and PRINCESS LEIA not the “Han Solo and Rey” theme. Perhaps it points to something different. As many bloggers are suggesting, is Rey the twin of Hans Solo? (only he looks old enough to be her father ……) Of course, we won’t really know until December but the music certainly gives us some indication that things aren’t as straightforward as they seem!

You’ve also got the “Trade Federation March” theme in the trailer from Phantom Menace:

As well as the famous “Force” theme:

The music is remincinet of all “good vs evil” films, like that of the Dam Busters:

and from Romantic Era classical traditions, sounding something like Holst:


The value of experimental music

Year 9 students this term have been studying the experimental music of the 20th century, and in particular the music of John Cage like this performance of 4’33”:

A performance would normally be made up of organised sounds. These sounds are referred to as crotchets or minims, “A” or C sharp”, loud or quiet. In 4’33” the sounds are less organised and what we normally refer to as “ambient” or “background” sounds become the very sounds of the performance.

What is the value of such music (if it can even be described as “music”)?

Bowie takes a bow

One of the great performers of the 20th Century has decided to hang up the lycra, put away the face paint and allow the curtain to finally fall on his musical career. David Bowie, a pop icon, will never tour again. At least, that is what his agent (presumably now his former agent) has said. It’s been over 10 years since the pioneering pop star last took to the stage. Now aged 68 he has decided that enough is enough.

No one in the history of British Rock Music has had so much success for such a long time. All of his contemporaries – where are they now? He has released 26 studio albums, 9 live albums, 46 compilation albums, 5 EPs, 110 singles and had 5 UK number ones. He has also released 13 video albums and 49 music videos. I pity the fool who can remember how many times Bowies has reinvented himself – from the alta ego “Ziggy Stardust” to splendid minimalist style of “Always Crashing in the Same Car”.

One of his most recent singles to be released was in 2013 and was, perhaps, a song about himself – an older person reminiscing about time spent and time wasted. His most recent, released in 2014, only managed to reach 18 in the UK Charts so maybe it is time for Bowie, under pressure, to take a seat.

Maybe that’s a sign of modern love but I don’t think anyone is going to be dancing in the street. Bowie is still one of the music industry’s greatest heroes.

COMPETITION – how many Bowie songs are hidden in this post?

Be smarter play music!

Regularly playing a musical instrument helps to boost intelligence. That’s what some clever researchers over at the University of Zurich in Switzerland have decided. They say that regular playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain!

It can even increase IQ by seven points in both children and adults

Experts said there is growing evidence that the brains of musicians are structurally and functionally different from non-musicians – in particular, the areas of the brain that help coordination, hearing, storing audio information and memory.

“We found that even in people over the age of 65 after four or five months of playing a instrument for an hour a week there were strong changes in the brain.

Researchers said: “For children especially we found that learning to play the piano for instance teaches them to be more self-disciplined, more attentive and better at planning. All of these things are very important for academic performance, so can therefore make a child brighter.”

Mr Jäncke also said that music can also make it easier to learn foreign languages and become more perceptive in interpreting the emotions of others.

The research is published in the online publication Faculty of 1000 Biology Reports and you can read more here:

What do you think?

Careers in Music: Meg Lawrenson

As one of our regular features we’re looking at what former pupils are currently doing with their music and this post is all about Singer/Songwriter Meg Lawrenson.

Left Cams: 2013

Currently: Freelance Song Writer. Performing Artist. Collaborating with Southampton studio, Purple Square Studios.

Path: Two years BTEC Musical Theatre, A’ Level Dance, A’ Level Communications & Culture and the Extended Project at Barton Peveril

News: She is working hard performing and releasing her own music. Her latest, “Drive On By”, is an acoustic blend of Shed Seven meets Alanis Morissette. Lyrical narrative, pop melodies and pleasing hook lines make this one of those tracks you just play over and over. Listen to it here:

Happy Birthday John!

Today would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday had he lived long enough.

John Lennon was an English musician who gained worldwide fame as one of the members of the Beatles, for his subsequent solo career, and for his political activism and pacifism. He was shot by Mark David Chapman in the archway of the building where he lived, The Dakota, in New York City on Monday, 8 December 1980. Lennon had just returned from Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono.


How many John Lennon songs can you recognise from just one line?

African Music and Jazz

Here is a recording of some drumming music by Year 8 pupils.

Leave a comment below and answer the following questions;

  1. In lesson it was said that African people play African Music and African-American people often play Jazz. What is the connection between African music and Jazz?
  2. What musical characteristics are used in both African music and Jazz?
  3. How do you think one developed into the another?

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