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Ur[ban]sonate: Echoes of Twentieth Century Sound Art in the Urban Elementary Classroom


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Here, the history of experimental music and sound art are used to integrate shared art making and free inquiry into an elementary science curriculum. The historic arc of sound art from Russolo to Bell Labs to Cage is used to activate student interest and situate student investigations into the nature of sound and vibration.

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Ur[ban]sonate: Echoes of Twentieth Century Sound Art in the Urban Elementary Classroom

  1. 1. UR[BAN]SONATE K. N. Summers, Camden City Public Schools J. E. Summers, ARiA Consulting LLC Acoustics 08 ASA-EAA Joint Conference | Paris, France | 3 July 2008 Echoes of twentieth-century sound art in the urban elementary classroom
  2. 3. URBAN Learners
  3. 4. Specific Considerations for Urban Learners <ul><li>Address needs of visual, auditory, kinesthetic learners . </li></ul><ul><li>Provide effective differentiation . </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivate student engagement and sense of ownership . </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain a feeling of comfort and safety via repetition and structure (direct teaching) while honoring students’ independence and creative freedom (inquiry based-learning, small group work, varied assessments and independent center work). </li></ul><ul><li>Contextualize and legitimate learning outcomes . Here the historic arc of sound art from Russolo to Bell Labs to Cage was used to contextualize/situate student explorations into the nature of sound . </li></ul>
  4. 5. Legitimating Free Inquiry <ul><li>The history of experimental music and sound art situates, legitimizes and formalizes the activities/investigations as learning experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>It was important for my students to see this kind of meaningful experimental play reflected in the adult world. </li></ul><ul><li>Hip hop culture serves as a similar lens for poetry, rhyme, rhythm, beats, bars, etc. </li></ul>
  5. 6. Situated Learning and Center Activities
  6. 7. Situated Learning A person’s intentions to learn are engaged and the meaning of learning is configured through the process of becoming a full participant in a sociocultural practice. - Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) . People appear to think in conjunction or partnership with others and with the help of culturally provided tools and implements Salomon, G. (ed.) (1993) [Situated Learning] is not an educational form, much less a pedagogical strategy Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991)
  7. 8. National and State Science Teaching Standards
  8. 9. <ul><li>NSTA National Science Teachers Association </li></ul><ul><li> aspx </li></ul><ul><li>TEACHING STANDARD A :Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers </li></ul><ul><li>TEACHING STANDARD B :Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers …Orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas …Encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry , as well as the curiosity , openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science. </li></ul><ul><li>TEACHING STANDARD D :Teachers of science design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. In doing this, teachers … Structure the time available so that students are able to engage in extended investigations .. Create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of science inquiry. </li></ul><ul><li>TEACHING STANDARD E :Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning. In doing this, teachers … Display and demand respect for the diverse ideas, skills, and experiences of all students … Enable students to have a significant voice in decisions about the content and context of their work and require students to take responsibility for the learning of all members of the community … Nurture collaboration among students … Structure and facilitate ongoing formal and informal discussion based on a shared understanding of rules of scientific discourse. </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>NJCCCS New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards </li></ul><ul><li>STANDARD 5.7 (Physics) All students will gain an understanding of natural laws as they apply to motion, forces, and energy transformations.Strands and Cumulative Progress Indicators </li></ul><ul><li>Grades K-2 </li></ul><ul><li>B.1. Demonstrate that sound can be produced by vibrating objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Grade 4 </li></ul><ul><li>B.4. Show that differences in sound ( loud or soft, high or low ) can be produced by varying the way objects vibrate. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Deep Listening Deep Listening® is a philosophy and practice developed by Pauline Oliveros that distinguishes the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary selective nature of listening. The result of the practice cultivates appreciation of sounds on a heightened level, expanding the potential for connection and interaction with one's environment, technology and performance with others in music and related arts. The practice of Deep Listening provides a framework for artistic collaboration and musical improvisation and gives composers, performers, artists of other disciplines, and audiences new tools to explore and interact with environmental and instrumental sounds.
  11. 12. Kurt Schwitters Da Da and Phonetics <ul><li>Letter Sounds, Phonics, Phonemes, Blends, Voiced and Unvoiced Sounds </li></ul>
  12. 13. The fourth movement, long-running and quick, comes as a good exercise for the reader's lungs, in particular because the endless repeats … In the finale I draw your attention to the deliberate return of the alphabet up to a. You feel it coming and expect the a impatiently. But twice over it stops painfully on the b... The reader himself has to work seriously to become a genuine reader. Thus, it is work rather than questions or mindless criticism which will improve the reader's receptive capacities. Kurt Schwitters on Ursonate
  13. 14. D A D A Dada is the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, a starting point for performance art, a prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop art, a celebration of antiart to be later embraced for anarcho-political uses in the 1960s and the movement that lay the foundation for Surrealism. Marc Lowenthal, Translator's introduction to Francis Picabia's I Am a Beautiful Monster: Poetry, Prose, And Provocation (MIT Press 2007) But, as I have already said, words, by virtue of the characteristics we find in them, deserve to have another decisive function. Andre Breton One achieves an understanding … only if one changes the inner basis, if one is prepared to break with a thousand-year-old tradition. Hugo Ball
  14. 15. English sounds are organized into voiced and unvoiced sounds. With voiced sounds the vocal chords are vibrated and can be felt in the throat.With unvoiced sounds the vocal chords are not vibrated. Some consonants are unvoiced, but all vowels are voiced. Unvoiced consonants include:/p/ /t/ /k/ /s/ /h/ Voiced consonants include:/b/ /d/ /g/ /v/ /n/ /l/ /w/ /j/
  15. 16. Students understand vibration experimentally, scientifically, corporeally and in the context of language. They feel energy transformations as the vocal cord vibration of voiced sounds. They feel pressure waves as the rush of air when enunciating th ch wh and other unvoiced sounds.
  16. 17. Sound Poems after Ursonate <ul><li>Grimm glimm gnimm bimbimm Grimm glimm gnimm bimbimm Grimm glimm gnimm bimbimm Grimm glimm gnimm bimbimm </li></ul><ul><li>Kurt Schwitters Ursonate </li></ul><ul><li>fubu cu se cheka ku chi chibu bo- </li></ul><ul><li>R.H. </li></ul><ul><li>Blue bo bopbobom UuRicketikeyTacomaaa </li></ul><ul><li>Baa Boo </li></ul><ul><li>LificccMaldoo </li></ul><ul><li>Coma Opita bebe- </li></ul><ul><li>N.B. </li></ul>
  17. 18. John Cage and the Da Da Legacy <ul><li>Visual Scores as New Taxonomies for Describing Sonic Phenomena </li></ul>
  18. 19. By creating their own sign systems students memorialize and reify the learning outcomes from individual and group investigations.
  19. 20. John Cage Cartridge Music
  20. 21. Student Scores
  21. 23. Past performance in other, more traditional, areas of the science curriculm is not a barrier to success.
  22. 24. By framing science learning in the context of art, and specifically in the light of Da Da, students can disassociate the content from any limiting or negative experiences with traditional science instruction or the specter of NCLB