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Considerations for Composition Students: What Do We Mean When We Say "Composition"?

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Music +1 Age Level High School (16 to 18 years old)

A National Association for Music Education Responding standard asks high school composition students to consider how we judge a composition 
according to structure. One of the great American compositions, George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, was similarly judged at its debut in 1924—
and for decades after—with a startling conclusion: While this great composition was undoubtedly great, it was not a composition! Students might
listen to Rhapsody in Blue in light of another groundbreaking work from the 1920s, Wassily Kandinsky's Composition, seen here. Such paintings
by Kandinsky are recognized as the very first in the form of Abstract Expressionism. We might ask of Kandinsky's Composition what was asked of 
Gershwin's Rhapsody: Yes, but is this a composition? To continue, click the text box For further standards information, see READ MORE.


READ MORE

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR MUSIC EDUCATION STANDARDS (COMPOSITION/THEORY) RESPONDING

Essential Question: How does understanding the structure and content of music inform a response?

Essential Question: How do we judge the quality of musical works?

Proficient/Accomplished/Advanced:

Develop and explain interpretations of varied works, demonstrating an understanding of the composers’ intent by citing technical and expressive aspects as well as the style/genre of each work.

George Gershwin

Archives of American Art

Composition (from the Fourth Bauhaus Portfolio)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Kandinsky_1.jpg

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Kandinsky_3.jpg

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Composition (from the Fourth Bauhaus Portfolio)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

kandinsky.jpg

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

kandinsky.jpg

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

George Gershwin Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

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Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access