The Velvet Underground – Sunday Morning
Type: Popular Music
Musical Elements: Tone Colour and Structure
Students are required to create an arrangement of this piece, with a focus on tone colour and structure. The arrangement is to go for at least 1 minute and must contain an INTRO, VERSE (refrain), BRIDGE and SOLO section. A solo must be notated. The structure of the arrangement is to contain some form of variation with the original, and 4 contrasting instruments are to be utilised. Students can notate using Sibelius or Finale, or another notation software.
Students are put into groups of 3-4 with glockenspiels, guitars, keyboards, ukuleles and percussion available for their usage. Using a chord chart/lyric sheet, students are to create their own interpretation of the piece and perform it to the class. The piece must contain some variation of structure, and utilise differing tone colour.
Students are required to identify the performing media within the original “Sunday Morning” and answer a series of questions addressing the effect that tone colour plays on creating unity within the piece. Also, including questions involving how differing timbres creates interest. The final question will relate to 2 cover versions, the Nick Cave/Chris Coco version and the Record Club/Beck version, and will ask students to identify the performing media of both versions, and also identify 3 points relating to the musical elements of tone colour and structure. This activity is to be completed in the form of a written test.
For this activity, students need to first be aware of what is pop music? As a starter exercise, engaging students to provide how they would define ‘pop music’ in a mind-map-on-the-board form can help distinguish prior knowledge. From here, “Sunday Morning” can be categorised and contextualised. Students can draw upon the resources provided below as a means to discuss a quote brought up in the Allmusic biography by Brian Eno, who once said that “Even though hardly anyone bought the Velvets‘ records at the time they appeared, almost everyone who did formed their own bands”, in relation to the notion of pop music. How can an album described as such be categorised as pop music? Deep knowledge can be explored by introducing the Louchios reading ‘Today’s pop music no longer an art form’, where questions relating to the musical elements (especially tone colour and structure) can be used to create an engaging class discussion, that students can relate to based on their musical tastes and musical contexts.