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Soundscapes

By John Langstaff
By Ann Sayre Wiseman

You’ve seen a landscape – what about instruments you can hear? Let instruments tell the story of a storm or a summer meadow, going from stillness to sound and back to stillness. Like this – Rain starts to fall softly, gradually growing louder; winds begin to blow, howl and whistle. Distant thunder rumbles, crashes. As the storm passes, everything reverses, quiets down, returns to silence.

Choose a story to tell in sounds. Create your own soundscape with instruments and objects, clapping hands, and weird voices.

Make seashore sounds or city noises, a spooky Halloween night, birds calling, frogs croaking, dogs barking in the distance. Record your soundscapes.

Draw a picture of a scene and then bring it to life with sound.

Benjamin Britten used mugs tuned to different pitches in his children’s opera Noye’s Fludde. He called these “slung mugs.” The player struck them with a wooden spoon to create the sound of the first raindrops hitting the Ark.

Here are some possible sounds and how to make them.

wind: thin-rimmed glass
wailing wind: handsaw with bow
rain: thimble fingers (see below)
heavy rain: slung mugs
buoy: triangle
storm: scallop shells
deep sea, distant thunder: large PVC thumping pipes
insects: guiro, maracas, or shaker
spring peepers: small bells
woodpecker: wood block

 

Thimble Fingers & Tapping Gloves

Buy 10 thimbles that fit tight. Metal or plastic is all right. Tap on wood, tap on stone, tap on metal, tap on bone. Every surface has a sound.

Acorns cost nothing. Try "hats" on your fingers. Strum an old washboard.

Sew buttons on your old gloves, or glue on thimbles.

For more at-home instrument ideas, don't miss Kitchen Concerto.

From Making Music ©2004, reprinted courtesy of Storey Publishing

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