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  3. What exactly is a motif?

What exactly is a motif?

28 March 2024 (by Sarah Blaikie (sblaikie))

In our recent Music topic, Year 3 focused on one of the Greats: Beethoven! We looked solely at one of his symphonies, the 6th, and learned about how it was written to represent the movements and feelings of a storm in the countryside. After learning about Wassily Kandinsky in Art, and how his paintings represented pieces of music, it wasn't hard for us to make connections between these two artists.

We talked about how music can tell a story, much like when we listened to Prokofiev's 'Peter & The Wolf', and learned about how Beethoven achieved this through creating a set of motifs for various instruments across each section of the orchestra. We were able to relate to motifs by listening to others that we have heard and recognise in movie scores, such as 'Hedwig's Theme' from Harry Potter.

In our first attempt at composing a piece of music that represented a storm, our challenge was to do so using only body percussion. We experienced how it is most effective when the storm brews and builds like one might do in real life, reaching a climax before then tailing off until quiet is found again. This was excellent practice for doing the same on a selection of instruments, and also helped us to decide which instruments were best suited for the four main elements of a storm: rain, wind, lightning and thunder. We even practiced diminuendo and crescendo as part of our final piece, showing control when guided by a conductor.