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Found 6,964 Collections

 

Exploring Systems

Systems can be vast or miniscule. They can be man-made or occur in nature. A system can be simple or complex but all systems are have various parts. Each of the parts have functions within the system and each system has its own function (what a part or system is used for is called its function)

In this collection, students investigate a variety of systems by viewing and reading about them. 

This collection can be used in the classroom as students explore the crosscutting concept of systems and system models across a variety of science disciplines. The collection can also be used in a design thinking course or unit or as students undertake engineering projects and explore processes and systems.

This collection is designed for students to use independently either in class or on their own. The collection can also be used as a small group or whole class activity driven by discussion instead of writing.

The task is provided in the first slide in the collection. Extension activities can be applied to the task. One extension is included in the task slide and prompts students to use the Learning Lab to seek out their own example of a system and explain its parts and functions. A more interactive class based extension might be for students to circulate and look for a partner/partners who chose the same system or can find a way to make connections between two or more different systems that they chose. Partnerships/teams can then compare the parts/functions that they have identified and prepare to share with the larger class community.



Sue Pike
36
 

Where would we BEE without them?

Explore bees' behavior and their role in pollination through real-world sources and data and meet Smithsonian experts in the field. This collection includes instructional strategy, student activities, assessment, and extension ideas. Organization is made visible by divider tabs indicating such components as concept understanding, Project Zero thinking routines, and calls to action.

Keywords: animal, insect, plant adaptation, animal communication, flowers, pollen, honey, hive, engineering, entomologist, pollinator, colony, system

Sue Pike
61
 

Animal Adaptations: Beaks

A collection focused on a variety of bird beaks and their functions: including Sharp Beaks, Flat Beaks, Conical Beaks, Chisel Beaks, Probing Beaks, Filter Beaks, Curved Beaks and Fishing Beaks.#ISTE2016
Sue Pike
17
 

Re-Imagining Migration DC Seminar Series, 2019-2020: Session 1

What does it take to prepare our youth for a world on the move with quality?

This collection is the first in a series of four created to support the Re-Imagining Migration DC Seminar Series, held between December 2019 to March 2020. The seminar series is led by Verónica Boix Mansilla, Senior Principal Investigator for Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero, and Research Director for Re-Imagining Migration, with in-gallery experiences provided by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the National Gallery of Art.

This set of collections is designed to be dynamic. We will continue to add material, including participant-created content, throughout the seminar series so that the collections themselves can be used as a type of textbook, reflecting the content, development, and outputs of the full seminar series. Please check back to the hashtag #ReImaginingMigration to see a growing body of materials to support educators as they strive to serve and teach about human migration in relevant and deep ways.

Thank you to Elizabeth Dale-DeinesPhoebe Hilleman, and Carol Wilson of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the in-gallery activity and supporting content.


#ReImaginingMigration

Philippa Rappoport
39
 

Dong Kingman

This collection focuses on Dong Kingman (1911-2000), an American watercolorist best known for his urban and landscape paintings, magazine covers, and scenery work for multiple films. Dong Kingman was born in Oakland, California, to Chinese immigrants and moved to Hong Kong when he was a child. There, he studied both Asian and European painting techniques before returning to the United States during the Great Depression. Artwork in this collection includes works created for the Works Progress Administration, the NASA Art Program, and Time magazine. Also included is a short documentary, directed by two-time Academy Award winner James Wong Howe, and Dong Kingman's obituary from the New York Times.

This collection is not comprehensive but rather provides a launching point for research and study. 

This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Keywords: chinese american, china

#APA2018

Tess Porter
21
 

China’s Terracotta Army: Exploring the Tomb Complex and Values of China’s First Emperor

In this activity, students will take on the role of archaeologists and make inferences about what objects included in the elaborate tomb complex of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE) can reveal about his values, afterlife beliefs, and how he saw himself and his world. Students will analyze objects including not only members of the Terracotta Army, a group of approximately 7,000 terracotta soldiers and horses, but also terracotta acrobats, bronze waterfowl, and more. This collection is Part 3 in a series of collections created for a social studies classroom; for more information, click “Read More.”

Objects found in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s elaborate tomb complex, which covers a total area of 17.6 square miles, make up the majority of surviving objects from this significant period in Chinese history. They are some of the best archaeological evidence researchers have for understanding the spiritual beliefs, military practices, and values of the ruler responsible for unifying China for the first time in its history. 

Authors of this collection are the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Tags: archaeology; archaeologist; ancient history; artifact; afterlife; funerary practices; burial; death; spiritual beliefs; military; soldier; sculpture; chinese; world; asia; asian; xi'an; empire; cross-cultural comparison; terra cotta; qin shi huang; shihuangdi; shi huang di; earthenware; ceramics

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Terracotta Army
25
 

China’s Terracotta Army: Introduction to China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Army

In this activity, students will learn about the life, achievements, and historical legacy of the First Emperor of China, Emperor Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE). In order to understand why he, and the developments he shaped, are so historically significant, students will explore objects from the Qin (221 – 206 BCE) and Han (206 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties and use information learned to create arguments about the past. This collection is Part 1 in a series of collections created for a social studies classroom; for more information, click “Read More.”

Objects found in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s elaborate tomb complex, which covers a total area of 17.6 square miles, make up the majority of surviving objects from this significant period in Chinese history. They are some of the best archaeological evidence researchers have for understanding the spiritual beliefs, military practices, and values of the ruler responsible for unifying China for the first time in its history. 

Authors of this collection are the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Tags: archaeology; archaeologist; ancient history; artifact; afterlife; funerary practices; burial; death; spiritual beliefs; military; soldier; sculpture; chinese; world; asia; asian; xi'an; empire; leader; see wonder connect; headlines; strategy; project zero; visible thinking routine; terra cotta; qin shi huang; shihuangdi; shi huang di; earthenware; ceramics

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Terracotta Army
10
 

Terracotta Warriors & Figures: Object Analysis

In this activity, students will use visual evidence to try guess the roles of figures found in the elaborate tomb complex of China's First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE), and analyze what they may reveal about his values, how he saw himself, and how he saw his world.  

Objects found in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s elaborate tomb complex, which covers a total area of 17.6 square miles and contains over 7,000 terracotta figures, make up the majority of surviving objects from this significant period in Chinese history. They are some of the best archaeological evidence researchers have for understanding the spiritual beliefs, military practices, and values of the ruler responsible for unifying China for the first time in its history. 

Authors of this collection are the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Keywords: archaeology, archaeologist, ancient history, artifact, afterlife, funerary practices, burial, death, spiritual beliefs, military, soldier, sculpture, chinese, world, asia, asian, xi'an, empire, cross-cultural comparison, terra cotta, qin shi huang, shihuangdi, shi huang di, earthenware, ceramics, pottery, terracotta army

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Terracotta Army
16
 

Inside Out & Back Again

Resources to accompany a unit on the YA verse novel Inside Out and Back Again by Thhanha Lai. #SAAMteach

Katie Porter
6
 

Digital Story

#smithstories

David Gregory
1
 

Emancipation Proclamation

Meridith Manis
5
 

ACCESS SERIES | Through the Lens of Curiosity

IMPORTANT: Click on the "i" for information icon and the paperclip icons as you move through the collection.

All Access Club Explores the Microscopic World. If you cannot see something, does that mean that it is not there? Nope! Just lurking under the surface of common, everyday objects is an entire world that we normally cannot see. People just like you can use microscopes to discover things that need magnification in order to view.  The collection is part of an activity series that explores this mysterious microscopic world.

EDUCATORS | For the LESSON PLAN of the original "Through the Lens of Curiosity"  << CLICK HERE >>

In this collection you will:

  • Find out about the world through the use of microscopes and magnifiers
  • Take on the role of detective as you embark on a quest to solve 5 mysteries -- by making observations about up-close objects and reading clues, can you figure out what the whole object is?
  • In the game A Part of the Whole, use your power of observation to consider the structures and functions of up-close objects to guess what they might be. Again, you will look at part of an object--photographed up-close--to guess at the whole.

If it is possible to set-up a hand's-on experience with microscopes along with the online activities -- the tactile portion will enhance the online activity. Teens can also view a video about scanning electron microscopes by a young scientist in the 'extension section'.

Keywords: decision-making, self-determination, access, disability, accessibility, neurodiversity, special education, SPED, out of school learning, informal learning, cognitive, social skills, engagement, passion, creativity, empowerment, All Access Digital Arts Program 

Tracie Spinale
64
 

ACCESS SERIES | Galaxy Quest

IMPORTANT: Click on the "i" for information icon and the paperclip icons as you move through the collection.

Have you ever wondered what's going on out there in the universe? Would you like to discover exciting things about planets, stars, and galaxies? Today, we will go on a GALAXY QUEST to EXPLORE THE UNIVERSE!

RATIONALE | Digital technology has transformed how we explore the Universe. We now have the ability to peer into space right from our homes and laptop computers. Telescopes, photography, and spectroscopy remain the basic tools that scientists—astronomers and cosmologists—use to explore the universe, but digital light detectors and powerful computer processors have enhanced these tools. Observatories in space—like the Hubble Space Telescope—have shown us further into space then we have ever seen before.

EDUCATORS | For the LESSON PLAN of the original "Galaxy Quest" << CLICK HERE >>

Lesson Objectives:
1. Process and save at least one digital image of a galaxy or space image (with caption)
2. Create a three-dimensional astronomy sculpture (galaxy or other space body, space alien, plant, animal)
3. Create a digital astronomy sculpture (galaxy or other space body, space alien, plant, animal)
4. Visit the Explore the Universe exhibition at NASM and identify Hubble parts (mirror, lens, spectroscope)

Learning Objectives:
1.     What a galaxy is
2.     What a space telescope is
3.     Learn how to open an image on the computer and process it
4.     Socialize well in the museum setting


Tags: decision-making, self-determination, access, disability, accessibility, neurodiversity, special education, SPED, out of school learning, informal learning, cognitive, social skills, engagement, passion, creativity, empowerment, All Access Digital Arts Program 


Tracie Spinale
77
 

ACCESS SERIES | Nile, Nile Crocodile

IMPORTANT: Click on the "i" for information icon and the paperclip icons as you move through the collection.

Exploring: Ancient Egypt, the Nile River, and glass museum objects, papercraft, and sand art

Rationale for Instruction:

  • Through the introduction, museum visit, and activities, students connect with an ancient and diverse culture in ways both conceptual and concrete. The ancient Egyptians shaped our modern civilization in fundamental ways and left legacies that are still present today. 

Objectives:

  • Explain features of the daily life of an Ancient Egyptian living on the Nile River, including boat transportation, dress, and animal life. 
  • Explore the ancient origins of glass making in Egypt.
  • Examine how glass making relates to object making, animal representation, and the desert environment of Egypt
  • Plan, create, and share digital and physical works of art that represent ancient (sand art) and modern art forms (digital photography with filters) as well as representational art (papercraft) landscape.

EDUCATORS | For the LESSON PLAN of the original "Nile, Nile Crocodile" << CLICK HERE >>

SET THE STAGE:

  • Maps - Look at the maps in the Smithsonian collection; Where do you think you'll journey to in this collection?
  • "This is Sand" App - an tablet app that changes the pixels on the screen into digital sand.
  • Video about The Nile (for learners who prefer a concrete example)
  • Thought journey down the Nile River; Ask questions about observations along the way. If you are able to transform the furniture to reflect a boat, do so. 
  • Glass making video as well as a primary source text from 1904 (for learners who prefer a concrete example); Help make the connection between the desert sand environment and glass making. 

MUSEUM "VISIT"

  • Go to the gallery; read the panels and explore the objects. The gallery has been re-created in the Learning Lab collection
  • Explore the glass vessels-->What do you notice?
  • Observe the glass animals-->Take turns reading the informational texts; What do the animals represent?

~ BREAK ~

ACTIVITY STATIONS (rotate between activity stations)

  • SAND ART - Create your own ancient Egyptian glass vessel through a sand art design similar to the decorated glass in the museum.
  • "ANCIENT" PHOTOS - Use digital tablets to take photos in a museum gallery and use the built-in filters to create 'ancient-looking' photos like the ones that document historic museum excavations. 
  • PAPERCRAFT LANDSCAPE - Create a three-dimensional landscape of ancient Egypt based on the animals and structures observed in the museum gallery and in the introductory materials. Templates and examples are included. Document your results using photography.

Tags: decision-making, self-determination, access, disability, accessibility, neurodiversity, special education, SPED, out of school learning, informal learning, cognitive, social skills, engagement, passion, creativity, empowerment, All Access Digital Arts Program

Tracie Spinale
119
 

Color Series - Green

This topical collection of the color green is part of a color series and was originally used in a collage art activity (printed out; using paper, glue, and art materials) with a group of teens with cognitive disabilities during a summer camp program.

Tags: color series, decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, disability, All Access Digital Arts Program

Tracie Spinale
97
 

Color Series: Yellow

This topical collection of the color yellow is part of a color series and was originally used in a collage art activity (printed out; using paper, glue, and art materials) with a group of teens with cognitive disabilities during a summer camp program.

Tags: color series, decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, disability, All Access Digital Arts Program

Tracie Spinale
83
 

Color Series - Purple

This topical collection of the color purple is part of a color series and was originally used in a collage art activity (printed out; using paper, glue, and art materials) with a group of teens with cognitive disabilities during a summer camp program. I was inspired to create the series after a few of our students mentioned their passionate interest in specific colors, and how they thought in colors.

Tags: color series, decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, disability, All Access Digital Arts Program

Tracie Spinale
45
 

Color Series - Blue

This topical collection of the color blue is part of a color series and was originally used in a collage art activity (printed out; using paper, glue, and art materials) with a group of teens with cognitive disabilities during a summer camp program.

Tags: color series, decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, disability, All Access Digital Arts Program

Tracie Spinale
92
 

Color Series: Pink

This topical collection of the color pink is part of a color series and was originally used in a collage art activity (printed out; using paper, glue, and art materials) with a group of teens with cognitive disabilities during a summer camp program.

Tags: color series, decision-making, self-determination, student empowerment, disability, All Access Digital Arts Program

Tracie Spinale
47
 

Military History at La Purisima Mission

Come along and explore the military history behind La Purisima Mission!  In this unit, you will find a link to a Self-Guided Interactive Tour and numerous photographs that document the stories behind the soldiers at La Purisima Mission.

La Purísima Mission CA State Historic Park
18
 

Introduction to American Identity

Many aspects of American culture, traditions, history, and systems make up the nation's identity. This collection will help us dip our toes into this deep well of information by first looking at geographic representations of the United States.

Sophia Williams
3
 

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

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.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
42
 

Music and the Other Arts: Impressionism as Example

The National Association for Music Education Composition/Theory Connect #11 standard asks: Demonstrate an understanding of relationships between music and the other arts. One entree into the subject is to consider the correspondences of artistic movements in quite different art forms. For example: Just as there was a nineteenth-century Impressionist school in painting, which began in France, so there was Impressionism in music, which also began in nineteenth-century France. Presented here are ideas for a comparison of one of the best-known pieces of Impressionist music, Claude Debussy's "Clare de lune," to the Impressionist
 artworks below (by Edgar Degas and the Americans Mary Cassatt and Childe Hassam). See READ MORE or click the text box


READ MORE

What is Impressionism?

Impressionism is most simply defined by the word it looks like: impressions, as in first impressions. Following the lead of the French Impressionist painters (Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, et al) the Americans Childe Hassam and Mary Cassatt sought to capture the ephemeral—fleeting sights, fleeting feelings, postures and gestures of a moment. Like Monet and Pissarro, Childe Hassam did much of his work outdoors, quickly, using paints that were not premixed on a pallet. A new Impressionist idea was that we the viewers do the mixing of colors in whatever we see. Like her friend and teacher Degas, Mary Cassatt spent more time and care on the composition of the picture, but gave a sense of the temporary with quick brushstrokes, sometimes leaving the work unfinished. The similarity in styles can be seen here in Degas's oil portrait of Mary Cassatt and Cassatt's watercolor portrait of herself, both at the National Portrait Gallery.

What is Impressionism in music?

Music considered Impressionist is often described as “atmospheric,” which might mean an attempt to express the literal atmosphere of a scene (such as Debussy’s moonlit landscape) or it might mean a pervading mood. The word atmospheric cannot help but suggest an airinessa lightness of treatment, a delicacy that is indeed a hallmark of Impressionism in all its forms. 

IDEAS FOR A DISCUSSION

After students have seen the artworks, listen to Claude Debussy's 1890 Suite bergmanesque, or just the movement  "Clair de lune" in this public-domain recording. You might also share Debussy's inspiration for the piece, Paul Verlaine's  1869 poem of the same name:



                    Clair de lune                                                                                        Moonlight

Votre âme est un paysage choisi                                                Your soul, the landscape that you chose, 
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques                       Is charmed by rustic marches, masquerades,
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi                                             And lutes.  Some masks disguise and some disclose
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.                             Faint sorrows underneath. That too parades.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur                                        The songs are in a minor key,
L'amour vainqueur et la vie opportune                                       Though songs of love triumphant, opportune.
Ils n'ont pas l'air de croire à leur bonheur                                  The singers seem to doubt their revelry
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,                                   And mix their voices with the light, the moon:

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,                                          The moonlight's sad tranquility,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres                                    Which lulls the birds in trees into a dream
Et sangloter d'extase les jets d'eau,                                             And stirs the fountains' weeping ecstasy,
Les grands jets d'eau sveltes parmi les marbres.                        Svelte jets of water which, mid marbles, stream.

                                                                                                                          (translation by Stephen Binns)



Verlaine is more often put into the category of Symbolism than Impressionism, but the two schools shared many ideas. Inspired by the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe and led by Charles Baudelaire, the Symbolists sought to suggest, through symbols, rather than describe. Verlaine wrote that he was after "nuance," which "unites dream with dream and flute with horn." The Symbolists aspired to the purity of music, which need only be, and need not represent. At the same time, composer Debussy represented Symbolist poetry with music. His other best-known work, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, is based on a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé.

Questions for Non-Musicians

Composer Aaron Copland described Debussy's typical melodies as "elusive and fragmentary." Musicologist Joseph Machlis described the typical harmonics as "evanescent" (on the verge of vanishing).

Can you find moments in Debussy's "Clair de lune" that fit these descriptions?

Can you find areas in any of the paintings that might also be described as "fragmentary,"or even on the verge of vanishing?

Is there a subject in any of the paintings that seems "elusive" (something barely captured by the artist)?

What is the subject of the poem on which Debussy based his "Clair de lune"?

is the subject sharply defined, or is it otherwise?

Questions for Musicians 

A section of "Clair de lune" is marked un poco mosso ("a little agitated" or "a little animated").

Can you find the point in the piece when this animation or agitation begins? How is the effect achieved?

Can you find areas of the paintings that might also be described as "un poco mosso"? (Hint: In reference to pictures, the Italian mosso means "blurry," as if a camera moved or an artist's hand shook.)

Debussy's original title for "Clair de lune" was "Promenade sentimentale" ("A Sentimental Walk."), which was also a reference to the poem by Verlaine.

Is there an element of the music that suggests walking to you? If so, how is this achieved?

Do the sentiments accompanying this "walk" correspond to sentiments in the poem?

 Copland wrote that it was only in the nineteenth century that composers began to explore the two "sides" of the piano's nature by taking advantage of the possibilities of the pedal. On one "side," the piano's strings can be made to vibrate to produce "a sensuous and velvety or brilliant and brittle conglomeration of tones." On the other,
the piano can produce "harsh, percussive tonal effects."

On which "side" does Debussy most often come down?

Since "tone" can refer to color as well as to sound, which "side" of such tonal effects is found most often in the Impressionist paintings?


Note on the Translation of Verlaine's "Clair de Lune"

The translation strays from the exact at times to retain Verlaine's ABAB rhyme scheme and his meter (iambic tetrameter in the first lines of the stanzas, then iambic pentameter) in order to give a better sense of the rhythms Debussy heard in his native language. Not included in the translation:

Verlaine uses the word bergamasques, for which Debussy titled his piano suite. A bergamasque, or bergomask, was a rough, rustic dance, named for Bergamo in Italy.

Verlaine describes the moonlight not only as tranquil and sad, but also as beau: beautiful.





Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
18
 

Music and the Other Arts: Renaissance and Baroque as Examples

The National Association for Music Education Composition/Theory Connect #11 standard asks: Demonstrate an understanding of relationships
between music and the
other arts. One entree into the subject is to consider the correspondences of artistic movements in very different art forms.
For example: Just as we identify sixteen-century Italian art and architecture as Renaissance and seventeenth-century art and architecture as
Baroque, so we identify the music of those centuries as Renaissance and Baroque. Presented here are ideas on looking at the Renaissance com-
poser Palestrina and the Baroque composer Monteverdi  in light of the Renaissance and Baroque designs below. See READ MORE or click the text
box to the right of the rightmost picture.


READ MORE

The term Renaissance, meaning “rebirth,” refers to the rediscovery of artistic and architectural principles of ancient Greece and Rome, which began in Italy in the 1400s. Baroque comes from the Portuguese word barocco, meaning “irregular pearl.” The very name Baroque suggests everything that Renaissance is not.  

In architecture, common adjectives to describe Renaissance are: symmetrical, geometrical, proportional, restrained. For Baroque: sweeping, dramatic, ornate, contrastive, and, yes, irregular. The two architectural plans here, both from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, might give an indication of the differences.  

At left is a theater building in the manner of Antonio Palladio (1508–80), who gave his name to a specific Renaissance style: Palladian. On a Palladian facade such as this, the main entrance is at the exact center, topped by a pediment. The pediment rises to a point, but does not rise steeply. The round arch of this central entrance is flanked by two identical entrances. The three entrances are flanked by three round-arched windows on either side. As we move up, the steps are gradual: rectangular and then smaller square windows on the upper floor, then a low balustrade above. The two sides of the facade are identical.

At right is a plan for an unnamed Italian Baroque church. Students looking for differences in symmetry might see one right away: on the left of the upper section is a decorative urn; on the right is a much more prominent sculpture of a saint. The upper section itself tells us much: nothing in the Palladian building rises steeply like this.

A musical analogy might be found in the Renaissance church music of Giovanni P. da Palestrina (1525–94) and the Baroque church music of Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). Aaron Copland wrote of Palestrina: “Part of the unworldly quality of many of Palestrina’s melodies is due to the fact that they move conjunctly, that is, stepwise from note to note, with a minimum number of skips. This restraining discipline, which makes so many of Palestrina’s melodies seem smooth and imperturbable, has the added advantage of making them easy to sing.”  

Monteverdi wrote something quite different about his own work: “I was aware that it is contraries that greatly move our mind. When I have not been able to find variety in the affections I have at least sought to bring variety into my music.”  

IDEAS FOR A COMPARISON

Available in public-domain recordings are an Agnus Dei by Palestrina and a Deus ad adiutorium by Monteverdi. The Palestrina is represented only by the melody; the Monteverdi in voices. As you listen to both, try to concentrate only on the melody of the Monteverdi. Ask students:  

Which piece has the broadest range in pitch?  

Which piece do you think would be more difficult to sing?  

Show students the two pictures, the Renaissance and Baroque buildings, without identifying their time periods. Ask:  

Which building reminds you most of the Palestrina? Which of the Monteverdi? Can you explain the analogies?  

Scroll down the main screen to find samples of sheet music for Palestrina and for Monteverdi. The Palestrina contains only one skip of a third. The rest of the notes move, as Copland says, conjunctly—one step at a time. Ask students to concentrate on the mere shapes that the notes form as they make their progression along the staffs.    

Which looks most like the Baroque church? Which looks like the Renaissance building?  

Palestrina composed for the ancient, relatively austere St. John Lateran Church in Rome. Monteverdi composed for the sumptuously Byzantine St. Mark’s Church in Venice. Were they influenced by their architectural surroundings?  

It is one of the sweet mysteries of art: Impressionist music somehow sounds like Impressionist painting. Did Impressionist painters and musicians learn from each other? Or Modernist composers and Modernist architects? Or was there just something in the air?

The question is without clear answer, but clearly there is an analogous relationship between architecture and music. As musicologist Joseph Machlis put it: “It has been said that architecture is frozen music. By the same token, music is floating architecture. Form is the structural principle in music.”

Scroll farther down the main screen to see a graphic representation of this.


Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
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