Guided Listening #2: Musical Weaving

For this guided listening, you will need the following:

A copy of these teaching steps
Text asset: Steven Gellman, Deux Tapisseries
Audio assets: Excerpts I and II of Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman
All assets are provided below.
Paper and drawing tools.

I. Listen and Draw

  • Distribute large sheets of paper and a variety of coloured pencils, crayons, or pastels. Make a crease down the middle of the page.
  • Listen to Excerpt I from Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman. What instruments stand out for you? What can you identify?
  • Listen again and focus on one single instrument line (e.g., the flute). As you listen, draw its melodic contour.
  • Listen again. Choose a different instrument to listen for and draw its melodic contour using a different colour.
  • Listen once more, choosing a different instrument and drawing its contour with a different colour.
  • Ask: What do you notice about your lines? Are there any points of intersection? Are any of the lines similar? How would describe the lines; e.g. wavy, straight, curved, thick, thin…?
  • Repeat the exercise with Excerpt II from Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman, using the other half of the paper.

II. Discuss

  • In groups of four, share the drawings made. How would you describe your drawings? Do any of them look like they are woven?
  • Read the background information about Deux Tapisseries. What are the titles of the two sections in the work? (Twilight Tapestry and Lightning Tapestry).
  • Look at your drawings again. Can you see ‘twilight' or ‘lightning' in your drawings? What in the music reflected these titles?
  • Confirm that Excerpt I was from Gellman's Twilight section and Excerpt II was from Lightening Tapestry.
  • Reflect on Gellman's words: "these musical pieces depict interior visions". What ‘visions' did you see when listening to his works?

Steven Gellman, Deux Tapisseries
Gellman, born in Toronto in 1947, was writing music at the early age of 9, and began comprehensive studies in theory, composition and piano two years later. By the time he was 15, Gellman had performed his own piano concerto with the CBC Symphony Orchestra. His studies in composition continued through 1973-6, when Gellman worked with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory. Since returning to Canada in 1976, Gellman has been a professor at the University of Ottawa.

Deux Tapisseries was commissioned by the Government of France to honour the 70th birthday of Gellman's mentor, Messiaen. It was originally scored for an orchestral ensemble: 5 woodwinds, 5 brass, harp, piano/celestra, 2 percussion players and double bass. In 1980, Gellman orchestrated the work for full orchestra, and Deux Tapisseries was premiered in Canada by the National Arts Centre Orchestra with Mario Bernardi conducting. The two movements are: Tapisserie de Crepiscule/Twilight Tapestry and Tapisserie d'éclair/Lightning Tapestry. Both pieces are composed by weaving together musical rhythms, harmonies, motifs, to depict a ‘mindscape' much as a visual tapestry has been woven to create a visual ‘landscape'.

Excerpt I of Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman (0:01:56)

Excerpt I of Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman - Play now

Warning: Audio file is larger than 6MbDownload (2.76Mb)

This excerpt is from the first ‘tapestry' of Deux Tapisseries, which is also named ‘Twilight Tapestry'. Gellman depicts interior visions as he weaves together different musical threads, motifs, rhythms and harmonies.

Excerpt II of Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman (0:01:46)

Excerpt II of Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman - Play now

Warning: Audio file is larger than 6MbDownload (2.53Mb)

This excerpt is from the second ‘tapestry' of Deux Tapisseries, which is also named ‘Lightning Tapestry'. Gellman depicts interior visions, distinct from the first tapestry, as he weaves together different musical threads, motifs, rhythms and harmonies.

Credits and Copyright

  • Audio asset: Excerpt I from Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman
    1980, Steven Gellman
  • Audio asset: Excerpt II from Deux Tapisseries by Steven Gellman
    1980, Steven Gellman
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