Anticipatory Set/Hook As class begins, do not speak. Hold up Instruction Signs to explain the activity: “Welcome to class. I’m going to put on a clip from a film. Notice what music does to the scene.” Then play a clip from a familiar movie that relies heavily on music (ex. The shower scene from Psycho or the battlefield from Henry V) without sound.
STEP 1: Transition: After the clip is finished, hold up final instruction sign: “Let’s try that again.” Rewind the clip and watch it with sound. After the second viewing, discuss with the class the difference between the two experiences. How did music change the scene? How does music help create mood? Can the students think of other scenes that depend heavily on music?
STEP 2: Discussion: Expand the discussion of music by reading the definition from the “6 Elements Worksheet.” “Music can encompass the rhythm of dialogue and speeches in a play or can also mean the aspects of the melody and music compositions as with musical theatre. Each theatrical presentation delivers music, rhythm and melody in its own distinctive manner. Music is not a part of every play. But, music can be included to mean all sounds in a production. Music can expand to all sound effects, the actor’s voices, songs, and instrumental music played as underscore in a play. Music creates patterns and establishes tempo in theatre. In the aspects of the musical the songs are used to push the plot forward and move the story to a higher level of intensity. Composers and lyricist work together with playwrights to strengthen the themes and ideas of the play. Character’s wants and desires can be strengthened for the audience through lyrics and music.”
Help students understand the first portion of the definition about rhythm and dialogue with examples from the Shakespeare scenes used in the “Diction” lesson. Discuss genres of films or plays that rely heavily on music: Opera, musical theater, melodrama, etc.
STEP 3: Assignment: Define melodrama: “Historically, a distinct form of drama popular throughout the nineteenth century which emphasized action, suspense, and spectacular effects; generally melodrama used music to heighten the dramatic mood. Melodrama had stock characters and clearly defined villains and heroes, and it presented unambiguous confrontations between good and evil.” (Goldfard, Alvin. Wilson, Edwin. Living Theater: A History ed. 4. USA: MCGraw-Hill Companies, 2004. G6). Important points: emphasis on action, stock characters, exaggerated or heightened action, and use of music to heighten mood. Play the four music clips. In groups, the students will select one of four clips played in class. The students must create a thirty-second melodrama. The stories should be very simple, but they must include an inciting incident, rising action, climax, and a resolution. The music should heighten the mood of the scene, and will be played in conjunction with the scene. The scenes will not have spoken dialogue, but cue cards may be incorporated. The scene should also have a title. The students have 30 minutes to create their scene.
The students will perform their melodramas. They will be graded on the following rubric. Students will need to fill out an evaluation sheet for two other groups.