Stage 4: Module – What Does it Mean to be Green?

Unit Duration: 5 lessons

                                                                        Musical Concepts: All concepts, but with a focus on Tone Colour and Pitch

This unit is cross-curricular and project-based. In science, students are asked to investigate the question “What does it mean to be green” and present their answer as a 6 minute movie. In Music, students study The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by Colin Bright and Amanda Stewart and observe how musical forms can offer weight to political or scientific argument in mixed-media art forms (TONE COLOUR, TEXTURE). The use of drone and limited pitch sets (PITCH) in the model work are investigated and used as a basis for student composition which also includes improvised performance. Students submit a short sample movie >30 seconds each which displays understanding of the concepts studied, and some students extend this composition into their science assignment. Students create the movie in GarageBand, and learn about synthesised sounds suitable for the pitch material modelled.


Students in Module 1 will

Learn to:                                                                                                          

Learn about musical concepts:



Through this unit students will:

  • Perform melodies instrumentally using limited-pitch sets
  • Perform parts from within a texture

Students may also:

  • Perform extension choral and instrumental repertoire in a co-curricular ensemble (e.g. School Choirs, Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonietta, Stage Band, Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble)
  • Perform a vocal or instrumental solo in a concert open to the MLC community.


Through this unit students will:

  • Create a drone-based composition
  • Improvise and compose in a number of limited-pitch sets (modes)
  • Make music fit with audio samples
  • Make music fit with video

Students may also:

  • Experiment with other technology


Through this unit students will:

  • Explore concerts of drone and limited pitch sets
  • Learn to identify synthesised sounds and distinguish them from acoustic instruments
  • Analyse the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds in mixed-media composition
  • Analyse pitch and tone colour concepts from a recording

Students may also:

  • Analyse music found on websites collected around the topic


Assessment is based on two components: the student composition, which must show understanding of the concepts studied through appropriate adoption of the same techniques; and the student blog, which should exhibit evidence of the compositional process and understanding of the concepts studied. Each of the two components is equal in terms of marks. The rubric provides students not only with their performance outcomes in relation to the syllabus but also in relation to course expectations (Not Evident, Progressing, Satisfactory and High) and detailed written feedback. Marks out of 10 for each component are recorded by the teacher but not given to students, which is consistent with school policy.


Feedback for this unit is given to the students orally from teacher observations of classroom activities. Students will also receive written feedback on all work documented in their music portfolio which is simply exported from the rubric into feedback sheets.





  • Repetition and ostinati
  • Simple tempo markings


  • Modes, limited pitch sets
  • Drone
  • Pitch on a keyboard

Dynamics and Expressive Techniques:

  • Piano to forte
  • Crescendo and diminuendo
  • Glissando
  • accents and staccatos

Tone Colour:

  • Synthesised sound
  • Mixed-media ensembles
  • Sampled sounds


  • Drone and melody
  • Countermelody
  • Chordal accompaniment
  • Loops


  • Narrative structure
  1. Opera - The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

  • Naxos Music Library
  • Scores for Music Theatre, opera, leider units.
  • Online unit – What Does it Mean to be Green?

Registration of learning experiences

This is a sample sequence for the teaching of Australian Music and Soundscapes. Each teacher should design individual content, sequence of learning experiences and indicators according to the genre taught. Teachers are advised to structure the unit of work according to the assessment plan, tasks, outcomes and collective choral program.


MUS4.3 Performs music demonstrating solo and/or ensemble awareness

MUS4.6 Experiments with different forms of technology in the composition process.

MUS4.10 Identifies the use of technology in the music selected for study, appropriate to the musical context.


MUS4.11 Demonstrates an appreciation, tolerance and respect for the aesthetic value of music as an artform





Sequence of Learning Experiences, Teachers can:







Notes and Evidence of Learning

Stimuli and models: Colin Bright and Amanda Stewart’s “The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior”; teacher model; online resources.

From study of Colin Bright and Amanda Stewart’s Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, Prelude, students observe:

  • Use of limited pitch scale (provide worksheets showing suggested scales that could be used). BoS concept: PITCH
  • Use of synthesiser sounds. BoS concept: TONE COLOUR
  • Use of sound samples (radio). BoS concept: TONE COLOUR

Students also see the teacher’s model (made following these same guidelines):

Students are given access to an online unit (Schoology) which has resources for the WHOLE project, so they can work ahead if they want to. Links to resources follow.

Teacher shows series of resources online where they gathered media for soundscape component of their project:

“What it Means to be Green” may not involve a discussion of the climate, and so discussion of broad topics and ways of searching the internet for reliable and original media.

Students working on the full project cross art and science must find some audio which reinforces their argument of “what it means to be green”. Students working in music only should choose an audio sample they find interesting and agree with.

Prelude analysis:

  • Opening dissonant drone: D and E flat
  • Spoken word/narration (in student documentary, this might be part of their argument)
  • Tom-toms with no definite pulse, “fill-like”
  • Falling quick motifs A, G#, F#, E flat, violin and synth
  • Recorder drone C  and F
  • This material then explored with more definite metre, expands to D phrygian

Teacher sample uses drone on C in Synth plus improvisation in limited pitch set (pentatonic C, D, Eb, G, Ab). Then adds some Al Gore audio footage shown earlier.

Students compose own material using the above processes and models. Tutorial videos and worksheets are provided to support learning and revision:

Tutorial video on creating a Drone in GarageBand:

Tutorial video improvising within limited pitch scale in GarageBand:

Worksheet on simple modes and how to play them in GarageBand: 

Tutorial video on adding audio samples to GarageBand:

Tutorial video on adding the composed music to film footage:

Students perform ideas to the class and show work to date as well as being given plenty of time to compose and edit material.

All work is presented in two ways: as an online showcase in the online unit, and as a Presentation of Learning together with Science classmates to the principal, parents and teachers at the end of term.


How successful was this unit of work? Were all students’ needs catered for?

Were students provided with opportunities to achieve the outcomes? Did the students enjoy the unit?

What changes did you make to any of the activities, resources or timings?

What would you suggest as future changes for the program?

What teaching and learning strategies or technology inclusions would you suggest for future programs?