What is program music?

What is Program Music?

Program Music is music that is intended to describe a scene or tell a story. Program music is often inspired by a piece of art, a poem, or a story that a composer has heard but can also be inspired by people and places a composer encounters in real life.

  1. Listen to each of the excerpts below, one by one.
  2. As you listen, students can either take notes using the worksheet or think about:
    • How does the music make you feel?
    • What types of instruments are you hearing?
    • What musical devices like tempo, dynamics, rhythm, major or minor key signature, etc. do you hear?
    • Close your eyes and imagine a scene – what scene or event do you think this piece is about?
  3. Then, gather groups of students or as a class to discuss:
    • The qualities of the music: the musical devices, the mood, instruments used, etc.
    • What do you think this music is meant to portray – what story, scene, landscape, etc.

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