How to write for an orchestra - instrumentation and timbre - 'Danse Macabre' by Saint-Saëns

Students work with the BBC Philharmonic to learn about musical texture and tone. They create their own piece for the orchestra based on 'Danse Macabre' by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Students learn to compose music for orchestra for the first time based on creating a classical piece inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns and 'Danse Macabre'. They learn about the context of the piece and find out about tone poems. The workshop enables the students to understand how to use instruments and understand tone colour and timbre.

Teacher Notes

Working individually, ask students to develop a musical story which uses the tritone as a starting point. Can they include different timbres in their choice of instruments? Challenge them to vary the accompaniment figures supporting the melodic line.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching (Subject - main) or (Subject - other 1). This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.