Music & Geography: Maps! (Part Two)

cross-curricular thumbnails
Janis Oppliger/Unsplash

Age Range: Middle School

Learning Objective: Students will build on their understanding of musical mapping to create an instrument map for Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #2.

Note to Teachers: Please modify and adapt concepts and language to align with social studies units and make content grade-level appropriate.

In part one, we looked at different kinds of maps and made a melody map. In the second installment, we will create a musical map of the instrumentation in a segment of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach.

ENGAGE students

REVIEW. Remind students: “In our last lesson, we defined a map as ‘a graphic diagram or representation of something.’”

EXPLAIN. “Today we’ll define another word: ‘instrumentation.’ In music, instrumentation means the group of instruments used to play any particular song or piece of music.”

EXPLORE sounds

SHOW. “Here is a key that shows us all of the instruments used in the piece. Look at each instrument and familiarize yourself with how it looks.”

Bach Instrumentation Key
Instrumentation Key for Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
Wikimedia Commons

Note: The piccolo trumpet is similar to the regular trumpet, but is smaller. This means the pitch is higher. Notice that there are also four valves instead of the usual three.

WATCH. Play a one-minute segment of Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #2 and guide students to make a map of featured instruments they see and hear.

REPEAT. Invite students to listen and watch one more time for another detail: “Notice when the whole group plays together and notice when one instrument is featured in a short solo. When the whole group plays together, it's called tutti (pronounced TWO-tee).” On second listen, draw an instrumentation map that shows when the group is playing tutti or if an instrument is featured playing a solo. Create a grid like the one below to show what happens during that minute of music. In the blank box, write "tutti" if everyone is playing at once with no clear soloist. If there is a clearly featured solo instrument, write the name or draw a picture of that instrument. Here's a hint: not every instrument plays a solo!

Instrument Map
Instrument Map
Katie Condon

CHECK. Here is a completed version of the instrumentation map.

Completed Instrument Map
Completed Instrument Map
Katie Condon

EXTEND learning

Try this same technique on additional pieces of music.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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