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In this activity we will use a musical code to create a musical cryptogram melody. Inspirations include music by Bach and Boulez.

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Composers sometimes create melodies using code. This is called a musical cryptogram. In this activity you will create a melody using a code. Below is a musical code:

code1

On the top line are the note names A, B, C, D, E, F, G. All the letters in the same column take the note from the first row e.g. W = the note B and S = the note E.  

Many composers have used musical cryptograms - Pierre Boulez in Dérive 1 and Bach in the Art of Fugue:

Your Turn!

Turn your name or a friend or family member's name using the code to make a music cryptogram

Below is an example using the name Jamie: J becomes C, A is A, M becomes F, I becomes B and E is E:

Boulez 2

Play your name on a musical instrument. You can the use melody to create a more interesting piece of music using these ideas:

  • Use crotchets, quavers and minims to add rhythm to your melody. Notate your idea if you'd like to.
  • Find a way to play the melody the describes the person whose name you used to make the code.
  • Write you name in Morse Code which you can find here. Play each note with the rhythm of the Morse Code. Dot = short note, line = long note. 
  • Divide your Musical Cryptogram into 2 or 3 bits/sections. Play around finding different ways of playing the little bits. Organise the original idea and little bits into a longer piece. You can use each bit/section as many time as you like. 
  • Add some dynamics (loud and soft, crescendos, diminuendos).
  • Add some interesting articulation - staccato, accent, slur or playing techniques - pluck, bow, trill, growl. 

PLEASE SEND YOUR MUSIC TO learning@bcmg.org.uk

For the PRINTABLE VERSION click HERE.

For printable manuscript/music paper see below.

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