KS2 Music: The Anglo-Saxons. 5: Beowulf - Part three
Tutorial: 'The revenge of Grendel's mother'
The activities during the tutorial include:
- Noting that the introduction is slow and solemn, as we imagine what might be lurking outside in the darkness.
- Noting that after the slow introduction the tempo changes and becomes much faster.
- Identifying that there are lots of words to fit with each verse.
- Practising singing the high notes at the start of the chorus.
- Trying to sing with expression, as Grendel’s mother, as she demands to know who killed her son.
- Noting how, in the last verse, the tempo slows down, as Beowulf raises his sword…then speeds up again at the very climax.
- Identifying how the slow coda is quiet, as Grendel’s dying mother sings for the last time.
Song: 'The revenge of Grendel's mother'
Key elements of the song are:
- Tempo: changes from slow to fast.
- Style: fast - with lots of words to fit into a musical phrase.
- Pitch: high notes in the chorus.
- Rhythm: note sequences that have the same rhythm.
- Singing with expression as Grendel's forlorn mother.
Click here for the lyric sheet (pdf).
You can also choose to sing with the Children's choir version of the song - good for encouraging your group to join in.
Once you have learnt the song you can polish your performance by singing with just the Backing track version.
Drama: Beowulf - Part three
Ensure you watch the Beowulf drama to assess its suitability before sharing with your group.
The Danes and Geats celebrate but outside on the moor another creature is lurking: Grendel's mother. She smashes down the door of Heorot, seizes Hrothgar’s closest friend - Ashhere - and retrieves Grendel’s arm before escaping. Hrothgar is distraught at the death of Ashhere. He calls for Beowulf and the Geat promises to find Grendel's mother and defeat her.
A search party tracks Grendel's mother to a lake where she lives in an underwater cave. Hrothgar gives Beowulf a sword which, he tells him, has magical powers. Then Beowulf dives into the lake.
Beowulf is seized by Grendel's mother and dragged into her cave. Hrothgar's sword is powerless against her but Beowulf sees another, so big it looks like it must have been forged for a giant. He lifts the huge sword and strikes at his foe...
Waiting beside the lake Hrothgar and the others are losing hope...when suddenly Beowulf surfaces, gasping for air...
Click here for the episode transcript (pdf).
Focus: Dynamics - loud and soft / Dynamics - getting louder - crescendo / Dynamics - getting softer - decrescendo / Rhythm - clapping the long and short word rhythms / Singing in two parts
- Discuss how music can be loud sometimes but also quiet. The musical term to describe this is dynamics. Having different dynamics in music makes it sound more interesting!
- Nigel sings the first line of the song loudly and then quietly and pupils copy.
- Nigel claps the different long and short rhythms of the words of this line and pupils copy.
- Then Nigel sings the first line of the chorus loudly and quietly and the children copy, then claps the rhythm as before for pupils to copy.
- Pupils divide into two groups and sing in two parts. They start very quietly - piano, then gradually get louder - crescendo, until they are singing loudly - forte.
Full details of the music activity in the Teacher's Notes.
Song: 'Blow northerne wynd'
YouTube link. Watch from 02 00.
- This piece of music features the Anglo-Saxon lyre or harp, the lute - which was a medieval instrument - and the voice. The singer is Brian Kay.
- The song is about the wind blowing from the north. Can pupils imagine this as they listen?
- What is the family that the lyre and lute belong to? It is the string family.
- How do string instruments work? The strings vibrate to create a sound. The longer the strings, the slower the vibration and the lower the sound. The shorter the strings, the faster the vibration and the higher the sound.
- What other string instruments do the children know? Others include the violin, the viola, the cello, the double bass and the harp.