14 Silent note (rest)
Reg Fletcher, Hampshire's County General Inspector for Music, takes
a look at Roamer's musical capability.
The variety of articles in recent issues of GO has demonstrated clearly
the virtually infinite potential of children's and teachers' imagination
in exploiting Roamer's capabilities, enabling learning to be supported
at all stages of pupils' development. Roamer has been characterised as
an explorer, plotter, aeroplane and delivery truck. By challenging children's
understanding of organising sequences and patterns of operation, they
have been required to consider and test hypotheses by planning and executing
numbers of sometimes complex manoeuvres and procedures.
To date GO has not explored Roamer's considerable musical potential;
the following few examples may serve to illustrate this ability. They
endorse the declarations of the adapted sea song that national curriculum
expectations in a number of subjects, including those emergent in national
curriculum music. They may also offer evidence of achievement in relation
to a number of different levels of attainment in a variety of subjects.
Pupils observing the relatively simple pattern of operation of the demonstration
program will quickly analyse the sequence of its various elements. If
it is repeated, they will recognise them as a sequence and will readily
recall the chain of events. Imagining the recollected actions of Roamer
is part and parcel of memory development skills. This set of skills is
crucial to several aspects of musical development in terms of making and
The following simple task explores the formation of basic sequences involving
Imagine the Roamer as an emergency vehicle with
a two-tone siren. Map out a route to follow with the simple requirement
that the two-tone siren is sounded at every junction crossed or when
making a turn.
Children could try various combinations of
two sounds and the effects of different durations and registers (octave):
high, low or medium. Which sounds are the best match for the real
emergency vehicles in your area?
The commands for two-tone siren sounds might
be entered individually or as a procedure, exploring the use of Roamer's
Changing Tempo and Octave
Roamer sounds may be played at one of
five tempos and one of three octaves.
To change tempo or octave press
Press a number between 1 and 5 for the tempo. 1 is fastest,
5 is slowest. Press a number between 1 and 3 for the octave.
1 is lowest and 3 is highest. Press
more complex task could be to imagine the Roamer as a mobile cake-sales
van using the tune of "Hot Cross Buns" as a call sign. Programming the
tune is quite a demanding task. If it is done in step-time, entering
it note by note as a long chain of commands, it is likely that mistakes
will be made in the entry sequence. Children are quick to recognise
the similar and different patterns of notes which make up the tune and
can enter each pattern as a procedure. It is then much simpler to call
the procedures in turn. The repetitions of some notes and the upward
and downward patterns of others will provide a wide range of challenges
to different members of a group working together to plan their solution
to the problem.
Music making is essentially to do with
organising and arranging patterns of sound. Sounds are characterised
by their timbre, i.e. tone colour, but can be changed in only
three distinct ways:
Volume (loudness or amplitude)
Pitch (high, low or changing frequency)
Roamer concentrates on duration and pitch.
Duration will contribute to effects of time: speed (fast or
slow), rhythm (patterns of long and/or short sounds) and pulse
or beat and metre - a regular pattern that falls into groups
of several regular beats or combinations of them.
Pitch or frequency can remain the same
or change by moving upward or downward. The movement of pitched
notes will be perceived as repetitions, steps (small changes
of pitch) or leaps (wider changes of pitch). Patterns of pitched
notes in a song will usually form a recognisable set or scale
defined as a "key" or "tonality".
Programming the tune entails using a wide range
of features. By the time it is completed, most of the children will
not only have gained from completing it successfully but will also
have acquired considerable experience of the contrast between the
leaping intervals in one procedure and the patterns of note rows running
upward or downward. The ordering of these patterns will reveal fully
the structural elements of the tune.
all this, recalling the tune by singing and/or playing, either in
reality or in the imagination, will reinforce a wide range of musical
concepts and extend aural and melodic memory.
The melody which appears at beginnipg of this
article could also be keyed into Roamer although it cannot be played
whilst on the move as most children might like. It can only be keyed
in note by note in step time: it does not have recurring phrases or
cells of melody but uses more varied and complex patterns of leaps
and runs. These extend over a greater range and require the use of
Roamer's lower register. Such similarities as there are within the
tune are to do mainly with written patterns and harmonic structures,
attributes which Roamer cannot store independently.
Hopefully this brief glimpse of some of Roamer's
musical potential may inspire a variety of other challenges. Let us know.
Be aware when programming long tunes Roamer
could run out of memory. This state is indicated by a warning sound
similar to the one obtained when you press CM.