KS2 Music: Shakespeare on Trial! - Song 4: 'H, C, T and R!'
Notes for ‘H, C, T and R!’
The idea of this song is to introduce children to four of the key Shakespearean play genres - History, Comedy, Tragedy and Romance (each with its own verse, in order 1, 2, 3 and 4). These verses are just spoken, roughly in time to fit within the two-bar phrases as on the music page. Each phrase of genre ‘explanation’ is followed by a spoken ‘counterpoint’ from one or more of the three Judges stating examples of play titles from each of the genres. These last recitations can be split between the Judges - or omitted entirely.
The musical mood of each verse reflects the nature of each genre, so Verse 1 is at a marching, military pace for ‘Histories’; Verse 2 is bright, cheery and chirpy for ‘Comedies’; Verse 3 is funereal and gloomy, in a minor key, for ‘Tragedies’; and Verse 4 is sung ‘with passion’ for ‘Romances’.
Gestures and facial expressions can emphasise these mood changes, as long as they can be well co-ordinated with the Judges’play titles (if included).
There’s also a fun music-hall chorus after each verse, which needs crisp, clear singing. It could even be exaggerated with movements and actions in ‘knees-up’ style, perhaps including hand-palms swing-ing side-to-side in time (at the half-bar) or elbow-jabs up and down!
Ukuleles and guitars can join in this chorus with a simple ‘four-chord trick’ (C - Am - Dm - G - C).
Pitched percussion can join in the piano introduction, which features a downward scale (C’ Bb’ A’ Ab’ G’ F’ E’ D’ C Bb A G F D G). Then in Verses 1, 2 and 4 any melody instruments can play sustained notes going up, step-by-step (CD_E_G_E_G), played twice, quietly. In Verse 3 - in the key of C minor for ‘Tragedies’ - the Es will be Ebs instead.
In the coda (end section) there’s a short link which is similar to the introduction, then a half-chorus with a long held note for ‘today...’, followed by sneaking in a very crisp, clear ‘TODAY!’ to close. Practise the rhythm of this a few times with the backing track, to make sure everyone’s together.