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Exploring ways to develop music from small ideas in twentieth century music

New Directions - Expressionism and Serialism Resources

New Directions - Music in the Twentieth Century Resources

New Directions - Cover and Homework Activities

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New Directions - Minimalism Resources

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New Directions - 5 Minutes Silent Reading

For teachers who prefer to begin their lessons with quiet, focused openers.  All contain “Questions to Think About” which can also be used as Cover or Homework tasks.

1. Music in the Twentieth Century

2. Minimalism

3. All About Steve Reich

4. Expressionism

5. All About Schoenberg

New Directions - Plenary Review Activities

A series of lesson reviews where pupils review their learning and understanding.

New Directions - DOITNOW (Starters) and Plenary Activities

New Directions - “DOITNOW” Presentation

Cutting down on printables, file storage and media files, the “new look” Musical Contexts “DOITNOW” New Directions lesson openers Presentation contains  a wealth (only two samples shown here), of effective “DOITNOW’s” when delivering the New Directions unit in just one place - all audio and video files are embedded and there’s accompanying Teacher’s Notes in the “slide comments” section. 

New Directions - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

New Directions - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Includes Scheme of Work Overview, Unit Learning Objectives, Learning Outcomes and Lesson Pathways.

New Directions takes an in-depth exploration of two of the many various styles, movements and genres of twentieth century music: minimalism and expressionism. 

The unit can be delivered solely through a “minimalism pathway”, focusing on the compositional rhythmic and melodic devices and conventions of minimalist composers and their work, or alternatively, by an “expressionism pathway” later in the unit, where pupils explore serialist compositional techniques such as note/tone rows and hexachords. 

Both lesson pathways explore how composers develop compositions from small starting points: motifs/cells or note/tone rows, and how these can be extended, developed and varied using musical devices such as augmentation, diminution, retrograde, inversion and retrograde inversion.  Through exploring a wide range of music from the minimalist and expressionist styles, pupils learn about common trends in twentieth century music such as the use of different tonalities, chromaticism, dissonance and extremes of pitch and dynamics as well as how composers use unusual and experimental timbres, sonorities, sounds and instruments within their work, which pupils are encouraged to explore and use in their own performances, improvisations and compositions to get a feel “of the style” in which they are exploring. 

Key Words, Concepts and Musical Knowledge

Atonality, Polytonality, Chromaticism, Dissonance and Discords, Timbre and Sonority, Minimalism, Motif/Cell,  Rhythmic Motif, Melodic Motif, Phase Shift, Phase In/Out, Metamorphosis, Additive Melody, Isorhythmic Overlap, Expressionism, Serialism, Note/Tone Rows, Augmentation, Diminution, Retrograde, Inversion, Retrograde Inversion, Tones and Semitones, Hexachords

Music Theory

Augmentation, Diminution, Retrograde, Inversion, Retrograde Inversion, Tones and Semitones

Links to GCSE Music

Western Classical Tradition since 1910


Listening to Minimalist Music

A 7-page booklet of listening exercises containing 8 questions on minimalist music.  Contains answers.

Minimalism Audio 1 - Elements (Lemon Jelly)            Minimalism Audio 2 - 3rd Movement (Fast) from Electric Counterpoint (Steve Reich)            Minimalism Audio 3 - The Desert Music (Steve Reich)

Minimalism Audio 4 - Lightning (Philip Glass)            Minimalism Audio 5 - Watching the Aeroplanes (Francis Monkman)            Minimalism Audio 6 - Facades (Philip Glass)

Minimalism Audio 7 - Prelude to Akhnaten (Philip Glass)            Minimalism Audio 8A - Opening of  3rd Movement (Fast) from Electric Counterpoint (Steve Reich)

Minimalism Audio 8B - Bass Guitars Entry of  3rd Movement (Fast) from Electric Counterpoint (Steve Reich)            Minimalism Audio 8C - Strummed Chords of  3rd Movement (Fast) from Electric Counterpoint (Steve Reich)

Minimalism Audio 8D - Isorhythmic Overlap of  3rd Movement (Fast) from Electric Counterpoint (Steve Reich)            Minimalism Audio 8E—Coda of  3rd Movement (Fast) from Electric Counterpoint (Steve Reich)





Learning how a Minimalist Composer Develops a Motif

Covers Metamorphosis, Additive Melody, Isorhythmic Overlap, Augmentation, Diminution, Retrograde, Inversion and Retrograde Inversion.  Contains Teachers Notes and Audio Examples.

Minimalism Development Audio 1 - Metamorphosis Example

Minimalism Development Audio 2 - Additive Melody Example

Minimalism Development Audio 3 - Isorhythmic Overlap Example

Minimalism Development Audio 4 - Augmentation Example

Minimalism Development Audio 5 - Diminution Example

GCSE-style Listening Question on Minimalist Music

Contains Answers and Mark Scheme and Audio extracts on Audio File.


GCSE Listening Question on Minimalist Music Audio File

Composing and Evaluating a Minimalist Piece

Group composition task focusing on motif creation and development.  Contains composing guidelines and evaluation sheet.

Steve Reich and Clapping Music

(650 MB)




Performing “In C” - Terry Riley


“In C” - Terry Riley Audio File

Exploring “Clapping Music” by Steve Reich

Contains background on minimalism and Steve Reich, Listening Questions on a performance of “Clapping Music”, “Clapping Music” in rhythm grid and rhythm notation and composing and evaluating own “Clapping Music” tasks using Phase Shift.

“Clapping Music” - Steve Reich Audio File

Exploring “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield

Contains background on “Tubular Bells” and Mike Oldfield, Listening Questions on “Tubular Bells”, a “Tubular Bells” performance and arrangement task using melody, harmony, chords and bass line parts and a self-assessment reflection task.

“Tubular Bells” - Mike Oldfield Audio File                Tubular Bells MIDI 1 - Tubular Bells Melody Line

Tubular Bells MIDI 2 - Tubular Bells Harmony Line        Tubular Bells MIDI 3– Tubular Bells Chords Part

Tubular Bells MIDI 4 - Tubular Bells Bass Line Part        Tubular Bells MIDI 5 - All Parts Together





Performing “Oxygene (Part IV)” by Jean Michel Jarr

Contains a Full Score and individual parts (Melody Line, Chords 1, Chords 2, Bass Line) and B flat and E flat melody lines.

“Oxygene” (Part IV) - Jean Michel Jarr Audio File

Oxygene MIDI 1 - Melody Line       Oxygene MIDI 2 - Chords 1

Oxygene MIDI 3 - Chords 2        Oxygene MIDI 4 - Bass Line

Oxygene MIDI 5 - All Parts Together

3-Part Minimalist Piece to Perform

Built on a motif/cell with development including phase shift, additive melody and isorhythmic overlap.


Audio File - Sequenced demonstration of 3-Part Minimalist Piece




New Directions in Twentieth Century Music

2-page worksheet exploring atonality, polytonality, chromaticism, timbre and sonority and dissonance and discords in twentieth century music. 

Supported by a range of audio examples, detailed Teacher’s Notes and a brief look at Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”.

New Directions Audio 1 - Extract from Fourth Movement “Entrückung” from String Quartet No.2 (Schoenberg)

New Directions Audio 2 - Extract from “Putnam’s Camp” from ‘Three Places in New England (Charles Ives)

New Directions Audio 3 - Extract from “L’Après-midi d’un Faune” (Debussy)                    New Directions Audio 4 - Extract from “Kontakte” (Stockhausen)

New Directions Audio 5 - “Threnody: To the Victims of Hiroshima” (Penderecki)              New Directions Audio 6 - Extract from “Sonata V” (John Cage)

New Directions Audio 7 - Extract from “Apparition de l’église eternalle” (Olivier Messiaen)

New Directions Audio 8 - Extract from “Dance of the Youths and Maidens” from ‘The Rite of Spring’ (Stravinsky)


Listening to Music in the Twentieth Century

Listening Questions based on Shostakovich’s “Leningrad Symphony” and Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”.  Contains Answers.

C20th Audio 1 - Leningrad Symphony 1 (Shostakovich)

C20th Audio 2 - Leningrad Symphony 1 (Shostakovich)

C20th Audio 3 - Leningrad Symphony 1 (Shostakovich)

C20th Audio 4 - Extract from “Quartet for the End of Time” (Olivier Messiaen)



Minimalism Word Search

Key Words on Minimalism with optional extension task to design an album cover.

Can be done without using ICT.

Serialism Crossword

Key words on Serialist Composing.

Can be done without using ICT.




Learning about Note and Tone Rows

Creating and manipulating a 12-tone Note/Tone Row.  Contains Teachers Notes and Audio Examples.

Note Row Audio 1 - Original/Prime Example        Note Row Audio 2 - Retrograde Example

Note Row Audio 3 - Inversion Example       Note Row Audio 4 - Retrograde Inversion Example

Listening to Serialist Music

Listening Questions of serialist music by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern.  Contains answers.

Serialist Audio 1 - Extract from ‘Variations for Orchestra’ (Schoenberg)

Serialist Audio 2 - Extract from Violin Concerto (Berg)

Serialist Audio 3 - Extract from Symphony Op.21 (Webern)

Composing an Expressionist Style Piece

Staged composition task based on a chosen piece of expressionist art and using a note/tone row as a basis for melody and hexachords as an accompaniment


Listening to “The Scream”

Example of an expressionist piece based on the painting of the same name constructed via serialist note/tone row techniques with a hexachord accompaniment.  Contains teachers notes and audio demonstration files.

The Scream Audio 1 - Melody Line                  The Scream Audio 2 - Melody with Hexachord Accompaniment

Hexachord Audio 1 - The Scream Hexachord 1                Hexachord Audio 2 - The Scream Hexachord 2


Learning about Hexachords

Explores the formation of hexachords and their use in Schoenberg’s Peripetie.  Contains detailed teacher’s discussion and notes. 

Hexachord Audio 3                          Hexachord Audio 4

Hexachord Audio 5                Hexachord Audio 6                Hexachord Audio 7