For this Guided Listening, you will need the following:

A copy of these teaching steps
Audio asset: Excerpt of Spiral by Robert Aitken
Text asset: Robert Aitken, Spiral
Flash asset: Techniques List for Robert Aitken’s Spiral (student copies or an overhead)

Audio excerpts, images and textual information are provided below the Guided Listening.

I. Predict
• Share the following quote:
     “It was hard at times to know whether one was in the middle of an orchestral composition or a zoo at feeding time, for the sheer novelty of these sounds, as they are stated and juxtaposed, makes a stronger initial impact than any aspect of structure.” William Littler, Toronto Star, Thurs. October 2, 1975
• Ask: What kind of performance do you think the reviewer just heard?
• Take some answers and then share that it was an NACO premiere perf Read More
For this Guided Listening, you will need the following:

A copy of these teaching steps
Audio asset: Excerpt of Spiral by Robert Aitken
Text asset: Robert Aitken, Spiral
Flash asset: Techniques List for Robert Aitken’s Spiral (student copies or an overhead)

Audio excerpts, images and textual information are provided below the Guided Listening.

I. Predict
• Share the following quote:
     “It was hard at times to know whether one was in the middle of an orchestral composition or a zoo at feeding time, for the sheer novelty of these sounds, as they are stated and juxtaposed, makes a stronger initial impact than any aspect of structure.” William Littler, Toronto Star, Thurs. October 2, 1975
• Ask: What kind of performance do you think the reviewer just heard?
• Take some answers and then share that it was an NACO premiere performance of Spiral by Robert Aitken.
• Ask: What might the “sheer novelty of these sounds” be referring to?
• Read the text asset: Robert Aitken, Spiral

II. Experiment
• Pass out copies of the flash asset: Techniques List for Robert Aitken’s Spiral, or put on an overhead projector.
• Have students try some of these instructions on their instruments and/or voices.

III. Listen
• Listen to the audio asset excerpt from Spiral by Robert Aitken. Note:
     o At this point in the piece some of the woodwind instruments have microphones on them so that sounds of breathing and key clicking are amplified. The performers are improvising with a set of sounds suggested by the composer. This is an example of extended instrumental techniques.
• Ask: What reaction did you have when first hearing these sounds? Laughter? Is laughter an okay reaction?
• Experiment: Can you imitate the sounds that you are hearing? Do the woodwind instructions help you imitate them?

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Flutist and composer Robert Aitken (b. 1939) has been very important in the development and exposure of progressive music as co-founder and artistic director of New Music Concerts, a twenty year running performance series. As a flutist Aitken has always searched, developed and mastered non-traditional instrumental techniques, many of which he uses in Spiral, composed in 1975. This piece contains so many new sounds, both instrumental and electronic that it caused Toronto Star critic William Littler to suggest similarities between the sounds heard at the performance to the sounds heard at a zoo during feeding time. The first performance was in 1975 by the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Flutist and composer Robert Aitken (b. 1939) has been very important in the development and exposure of progressive music as co-founder and artistic director of New Music Concerts, a twenty year running performance series. As a flutist Aitken has always searched, developed and mastered non-traditional instrumental techniques, many of which he uses in Spiral, composed in 1975. This piece contains so many new sounds, both instrumental and electronic that it caused Toronto Star critic William Littler to suggest similarities between the sounds heard at the performance to the sounds heard at a zoo during feeding time. The first performance was in 1975 by the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

An excerpt from Spiral by Robert Aitken (13:11-14:09).

Robert Aitken

© 1975, Robert Aitken.


The techniques list for Robert Aitken's Spiral

This is a techniques list of the non-traditional (extended) techniques needed for instrumentalists to be able to read the notation for Robert Aitken's Spiral.

Robert Aitken, Spiral, 1975, Score (Partitur) woodwind notation page.
Canadian Music Centre

© 1975, Robert Aitken


Learning Objectives

Breaking the Rules: Non-Traditional and Extended Techniques is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

• Learn about and experience non-traditional compositional strategies composers use to create new and distinct music.
• Consider the role of “breaking the rules” in music as a way to encourage important questioning of how we hear and of personal taste and interest.
• Make a personal connection with the challenges and enjoyment of non-traditional listening, composing, and performing.

Breaking the Rules: Non-Traditional and Extended Techniques
begins with a series of exercises, each of which focuses on a non-traditional technique used by a composer to explore new ways of music making.


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