Music GCSE: Instrumentation - 'Fingal’s Cave' by Mendelssohn

A group of teenage music students take part in a composition workshop to create a classical piece inspired by Felix Mendelssohn's 'Fingal’s Cave' with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and composer Barry Russell.

The students develop their own compositions in workshops which help them to understand how to use a leitmotif and how to use different instruments to manipulate tone colour.

This short film is from the BBC series, Tips for Young Composers.

Teacher Notes

After watching this short film, you could ask your students to discuss what musical features they noticed about the piece.

Introduce the idea of a leitmotif and ask students to compose a short melody that can be used as a leitmotif.

Once students have their tune, have them swap with a partner and challenge them to come up with different ways of creating a variation of their partner's theme, or a piece that incorporates their partner's leitmotif.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be helpful for teaching GCSE music composition. 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.

More from Tips for Young Composers:

Developing Melodic Writing - 'The Chairman Dances' by John Adams
Instrumentation and Melodic Writing - Monteverdi’s 'Toccata from Orfeo'
Melody and Instrumentation - 'Petrushka' by Stravinsky
Texture and Structure - Bach's 'Prelude in C Major'