Bad Day At The Droid Works

by Paul Jennings

I've written a lot of BAG tunes over the past few decades, but this one may have been the most fun to create. The inspiration came from the fabulous soundtracks from all the recent great space operas. Good stuff! So we worked with full orchestra and professional sound effects to made ours ready for your kids to play BAG on their recorders.

The recorder part is very straightforward, and should be approachable by even your most beginning players. Aside from only using B, A, and G, it never gets more rhythmically complicated than quarter notes, many of them stepwise.

The orchestral parts are another story, as they are creatively bounding along in their own artificial harmonic and melodic universe. It is constructed with its own rules and structures not unlike 12-tone technique, with a bit of dissonant whole tone sound piled on. It's not important that your students understand all of the intricacies, but they are the reason that the tune sounds consistent even with all of the chromatics and dissonant chords.

Let your students hear the tune as a listening experience. Play the instrumental track for them, no playing yet. Pick out instruments as they go by. What does the music make them think of? Can they envision a scene full of droids from their own great space opera? (Note in the downloadables box page 68 that there is a coloring page available – a black and white version of Teresa's droid cover illustration – to provide inspiration and coloring fun.)

The form of the song is A, A', B, A, A', C. One thing to listen for is the lighthearted countermelody in each A' section. Who is playing this line? (Piccolo and tuba.) Also, be sure to listen to the big buildup that starts in section C (bar 37). As always, you can find a piano/recorder score online at our web site to download and follow along with. Additionally, we have given you alternate audio versions with no sound effects should you prefer it that way.

At the very end, your players are given the option to become droids gone awry. Our performers did a great job which you can hear on the full performance track. For your players, we recommend simple sounds, thinking about being a droid and sounds it might make if things were to go badly. - PJ

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.