When creating a theatrical piece, it’s important to engage as many of the five senses as possible, including sound. It’s easy when you’re working on a musical; the sounds of the show are written right into the libretto. However, when working on a play, this may be more challenging. Choosing just the right music can evoke immediate feelings of a certain era: think of the big band sounds of the 1920s and 1930s, the swinging sounds of the 1960s, or the synth-pop bubblegum sounds of the 1980s. Similarly, an eerie, dark pipe organ playing in a minor key can put an audience in mind of a haunted house, while medieval harps and flutes immediately bring to mind pastoral fairy tale imagery.
For this exercise, students will create a playlist of songs/musical pieces that would be appropriate for a selected play (not a musical). Students may select their own play, or the teacher may assign a specific play to the entire class.
The songs may include vocals or may be instrumental pieces. Students will either burn the songs to a CD or USB drive, or create a playlist on an approved app (such as Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music).
Distance Learning Adaptation
This exercise can be completed individually by students as written, as an independent study project. Students will select songs to create their own 10-track playlist for an assigned play. They should create the playlist on an approved app, such as Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube. Students will also complete the written component, and submit it electronically along with the link to their playlist.
Alternatively, you can do this assignment as a full class project.
1. For the play your class is currently studying, act as director and decide the time period / atmosphere / mood of the piece that you would like for the play.
2. Each student will select one song or instrumental piece of music that they feel evokes the atmosphere you have chosen. Students should consider different aspects such as the tone, musical style, and mood of the song, lyrical content, and the time period of the song (either when it was actually written or the style it sounds like).
3. Along with the title and artist or composer of the song (as applicable), students will find and submit a link to the song (such as on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube).
4. As well, students will submit a written paragraph describing why they feel this song is appropriate for the atmosphere of the play. Students can reference a certain character, scene, line, moment, etc.
5. Create a playlist with all the songs selected by the students. Send students the link to the playlist for them to listen to. Do not include a list of what song each student submitted – keep it anonymous.
6. Students will listen to the playlist and submit a written response to the following questions: