Musical Contexts - Primary/Key Stage 2 Unit 8 - Machine Music

Learning, Listening, Composing & Evaluating Activities
Performing Activities - Songs & Scores
Starter & Plenary Activities

Exploring Graphic Scores and Cycles

About the Unit: This unit takes the starting point of machines as the basis for an exploration into graphic scores and repeating cyclic patterns.  Pupils begin exploring the sounds created by steam engines and trains, listening to “train-inspired” pieces and exploring how short, repeated vocal and rhythmic and melodic patterns are used to describe the perpetual motion of a trains’ movement.  Pupils them move onto explore the cyclic sounds created by factory machines using a selection of vocal and body sounds to recreate cyclic sound patterns.  After a brief exploration into space machine sounds, where pupils’ learning on graphic scores are developed, the unit ends with an exploration into video game sounds where pupils create their own sound effects (a good ICT opportunity) for a video game, recording their ideas using graphic notation. 

Element Focus - Rhythm, Pitch, Texture, Timbre & Dynamics

Machine Music from Musical Contexts provides a range of fun and exciting music activities and learning opportunities combining singing, performing, composing and listening and appraising with all of the resources you’ll need in one place!  Ideal for non-specialist music teachers (with a wealth of supporting media files to model tasks and a detailed scheme of work and lesson plans) and a wealth of fresh inspiration for music specialists.  This unit has cross-curricular links with a number of popular primary topics including machines, engines, trains and transport, factories, space, clocks, electronics and video games.  Scroll down to see the variety and range of resources and activities on offer. 

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Sample Materials

Year 7 Resources

Year 8 Resources

Year 9 Resources

GCSE Music

Music Documents

Musical Contexts

Key Stage 2 Music Resources


Frequently Asked Questions



Lesson Plan (PDF)

Lesson Plan (DOC)

Lesson Bundles (ZIP)

Download all the resources you need for each lesson (excluding video files) in a ZIP file.

Click here for the latest version of WinZip.

Lesson 1

Exploring Steam Engine and Train Sounds

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson 1

Resource Bundle

Lesson 2

Exploring Cyclic Train Patterns


Lesson Plan 2

Lesson Plan 2

Lesson 2

Resource Bundle

Lesson 3

Exploring Factory Machine Sounds

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson 3

Resource Bundle

Lesson 4

Exploring Space Machine Sounds

Lesson Plan 4

Lesson Plan 4

Lesson 4

Resource Bundle

Lesson 5

Exploring Video Game Sound Effects

Lesson Plan 5

Lesson Plan 5

Lesson 5

Resource Bundle

Lesson 6

Exploring Video Game Sound Effects

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson 6

Resource Bundle




Worksheet 1

Machine Music

Composing Sheet

Worksheet 2 - Video Game Listening Sheet

(uses Audio 2 & 3)


Audio 2 - Video Game Listening 1

Audio 3 - Video Game Listening 2

Worksheet 3 - Listening to The Viennese Musical Clock

(uses Audio 8)


Audio 8 - The Viennese Musical Clock




Worksheet 4 - Listening to The Little Train of the Caipira

(uses Audio 17 & 18)


Audio 17 - The Little Train of the Caipira 1

Audio 18 - The Little Train of the Caipira 1

Worksheet 5 - Composing Video Game Sound Effects



Score 1 - Detector Probe

(uses Audio 4 & 5)


Audio 4 - Detector Probe 1

Audio 5 - Detector Probe 2


Song Sheet 1 - Driving in my Car

(Song example on Audio 10 and Song Melody on MIDI 1)


Audio 10 - Driving in my Car

MIDI 1 - Driving in my Car Song Melody




Score 2

Train Departure

Vocal Graphic Score

Score 3 - Train Departure Vocal Rhythms

(Rhythms modelled on MIDI 2-6)


MIDI 2 - Part 1           MIDI 3 - Part 2           MIDI 4 - Part 3

MIDI 5 - Part 4           MIDI 6 - All 4 parts together

Score 4 - Inter-City

(Audio example on Audio 18 and parts modelled on MIDI 7-9)


Audio 18 - Inter-City


MIDI 7 - Part 1     MIDI 8 - Part 2     MIDI 9 - Parts 1 & 2 together



Song Sheet 2 - Chattanooga Choo Choo

(Vocal song example on Audio 20; Instrumental song example on Audio 21)

(Song melody on MIDI 10)


Audio 20 - Chattanooga Choo Choo Vocal

Audio 21 - Chattanooga Choo Choo Instrumental

MIDI 10 - Chattanooga Choo Choo song melody

Song Sheet 3 - Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

(Song example on Audio 22, song melody on MIDI 11)


Audio 22 - Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines


MIDI 11 - Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines song melody







Starter/Plenary 1

Graphic Score Cards

Starter/Plenary 2


Flash Cards

Audio 1

Steam Train Sound Effects

Audio 13

Machines (Back to Humans - Queen)

Audio 14

Factory Steam Engine Sounds

Audio 6

Clapping Music

(Steve Reich)






Audio 7

Music for Pieces of Wood

(Steve Reich)

Starter/Plenary 3

Graphic Scores


(also available as a PowerPoint Presentation HERE)

Starter/Plenary 4

Body Percussion and Vocal Sounds

Starter/Plenary 5

Video Game Sound Effects

(uses Audio 23)


Audio 23 - Video Game Sound Effects

Starter/Plenary 6

My Machine Music Learning




Video 1 - Short Ride in a Fast Machine (John Adams)


(04:23  25 MB)

(Audio given on Audio 15)

Audio 15 - Short Ride in a Fast Machine (Adams)

Video 2 - Pacific 231 (Honegger)


(06:52  44 MB)

(Audio given on Audio 16)


Audio 16 - Pacific 231 (Honegger)

Video 3 - The Iron Foundry (Mosolov)


(03:34  21 MB)

(Audio given on Audio 9)


Audio 9 - The Iron Foundry (Mosolov)




Video 4 - Honda Civic Choir TV Advert


(02:10  13 MB)

(Audio given on Audio 12)


Audio 12 - Honda Civic Choir TV Advert

Video 5 - The Typewriter Song (Leroy Anderson)


(02:10  14 MB)

(Audio given on Audio 11)

Audio 11 - The Typewriter Song (Leroy Anderson)

Video 6 - Steam Machine Music


(08:37  57 MB)