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  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 2 Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

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    A leitmotif is a short musical pattern or theme which is associated with a particular

    idea, character or place.

    Leitmotifs are used in opera and film music so the audience can encode and

    understand the characters feelings, actions and emotions.

    Background to Siegfrieds Rhine Journey by Wagner

    This piece of music comes from the last of Wagners four very big operas, all linked

    together by the same story known as The Ring Cycle.

    This is an EPIC musical work, consisting of about 15 hours of playing time!

    The story follows the struggles of gods, heroes and mythical creatures such as giants

    and dwarfs who fight for a magic ring that grants power to rule the entire world.

    This particular musical excerpt is about Siegfrieds journey to the Rhine, where he

    has been sent on a new adventure. Little do we know, however, that this adventure

    will end with the death of Siegfried, who later on is stabbed by a warrior called

    Hagen.

    Who is Siegfried?

    Siegfried is a mortal character in the opera, but he is the grandson of the chief of the

    gods called Wotan.

    Siegfried is extremely brave, fearless and adventurous during The Ring Cycle, he

    fights dragons, wins the magic ring by stabbing his enemy, and saves the life of his

    lover called Brnnhilde.

    Wagner uses a leitmotif to represent the bravery and fearlessness of Siegfried and to

    warn the audience that he is about to get stuck in on the action and adventure!

    Background to Star Wars Imperial March

    The Imperial March is a leitmotif for Darth Vader, the main villain from Star Wars.

    Pieces: Siegfrieds Rhine Journey (Rheinfahrt) by Richard Wagner and Star Wars

    Imperial March by John Williams

  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 2 Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

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    Darth Vader was once a heroic Jedi Knight, but he went over to the dark side of the

    Force to help the evil Emperor destroy the Jedi Order (the light side of the Force).

    The tune is often played when Darth Vader appears, or is about to appear, on

    screen.

    Activity 1: Exploring leitmotifs through listening

    Divide into small groups and listen to the two pieces of music.

    On large pieces of paper, write down your thoughts on the following questions:

    What kind of visual scenes and/or characters do you imagine when you hear the music?

    Why does the music make you think these things? Is it loud or quiet? Fast or slow? Are there

    particular instruments you can hear which represent certain characters or feelings?

    Activity 2: Deeper exploration of Siegfrieds and Darth Vadars leitmotifs through

    performance

    Teach Siegfrieds horn call and Darth Vadars leitmotif to the class. They can clap the

    rhythms, sing the melody to la, use the lyrics below or create their own lyrics to the

    melody! The main aim is to encourage them to explore how Siegfrieds leitmotif represents

    his adventurousness and bravery, and Darth Vadars leitmotif reflects evil and power.

    Siegfrieds horn call leitmotif:

    Darth Vadars leitmotif:

    Darth va - dar mar - ching by through the night

    Im go - ing on an ad - ven - ture to - day

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    Once students have learnt to clap, play or sing the leitmotifs, you can use them repeatedly

    to build them into a musical performance. Here are some ideas on how to do this:

    Layer it up start with one student and add in others one at a time.

    Come up with a signal for crescendo (getting louder) and diminuendo (getting quieter) and

    add dynamics.

    Nominate students to conduct a performance which brings students in and out and also

    signals getting louder and quieter.

    Split into small groups to develop their own performance and then share with the rest of

    the class.

    Activity 3: Composing a leitmotif for heroes and villains

    Use the following character profiles from Wagners The Ring Cycle and George Lucas Star

    Wars to compose your own leitmotifs. Split the class into small groups, pairs or individuals

    and either assign them a character or ask them to choose one. Their leitmotifs can be a

    melody played on any instrument (including voice), a rhythmic pattern or a mixture of the

    two!

    To extend this activity, the students can develop their leitmotifs into a performance using

    the ideas activity 2.

  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 2 Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

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    Brnnhilde

    In The Ring Cycle, Brnnhilde is a powerful and

    brave heroine whom Seigfried falls in love with

    and gives her the magic ring.

    Her character is based on a valkyrie from

    German mythology. Valkyries are strong warriors

    who are born out of the earth and live to protect

    others.

    At the end of the opera, Brnnhilde takes the

    ring from the evil warrior who kills Siegfried and

    returns the ring to the Rhine.

  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 2 Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

    t: 01202 644707 f: 01202 644742 www.bsolive.com

    Siegfried

    Siegfried is a legendary hero in The Ring Cycle,

    always looking for adventure.

    Siegfried slays a dragon and stabs his enemy to

    win the magic ring, which he gives to Brnnhilde

    to swear his love to her.

    In the end, however, Siegfried is murdered by an

    evil warrior called Hagen.

  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 2 Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

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    Hagen

    Hagen is an evil and cunning warrior whose

    father is the chief dwarf.

    Hagen desperately wants to claim the magic

    ring from Siegfried, but after murdering

    Siegfried, Hagen is too scared to take the ring

    and ends up dying in Brnnhildes magic fire.

  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 2 Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

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    Finn

    Finn was taken away from his family at a very young age to

    serve the First Order as a Stormtrooper.

    He was an extremely able fighter, always scoring top marks in

    his cadet training.

    However, after refusing to kill innocent villagers during a

    mission on the desert planet Jakku, Finn escaped the First

    Order to join the Resistance in fighting against the First Order.

    Finn is skilful, intelligent and protective of those he cares

    about.

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    Rey

    Rey is a talented scavenger, warrior and pilot

    who grew up in the wasteland of the desert

    planet Jakku.

    After becoming involved in the Resistance, Rey

    was captured by the dark Force but she refused

    to give up information about Luke Skywalkers

    whereabouts.

    She escaped to the Resistance base after

    beating a dark Force user in a lightsaber duel.

  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 2 Seldown Lane, Poole, BH15 1UF

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    Kylo Ren

    Kylo Ren used to be a Jedi trainee, but he joined the

    dark side of the Force to become one of the Knights

    of Ren.

    He wanted to continue the evil work of his

    grandfather, Darth Vadar by helping to destroy the

    Jedi.