This is by far one of my favorite projects to do with my classes. It's engaging, creative and full of implementing music theory knowledge. So, let's jump right in!
Superheroes and Villains are notorious for having theme songs, so what better way to introduce theme in music than through Superheroes and Villains?
I first created a slideshow give examples of Superhero theme songs that are typical; ranging from different eras of superheroes and different variety of sounds. We compare Superman and Avengers, Batman and Captain America, etc. With these examples, discussions about what instrumentations, composition techniques, mood of the pieces, and how it could connect to the superhero or villain it represented. Kids love discussing the theme songs and digging deeper into those conversations - especially if you have some kids that are fanatics about the Marvel Universe.
I have them fill out a concept map of a superhero / villain / antihero they want to create - it can be as silly or as serious as they want it to be. I've had creative students really getting humor superheroes. I have also had students work together in creating arch-nemesis or sidekicks, for example; Booger Man & Kleenex Boy, there was also "Mr. Inconvenience Man", a villain that loved to create little inconveniences to cause frustration throughout your day. Encourage their creativity!
After the concept map, I have them fill out an Interactive Notebook for more information on their character they created on their concept map; character name, backstory of how they got their powers, catch phrase, logo, and their song is linked in the slide as well. This is the Google Slide that would be presented to the class.
After the instructional slide show, I created a diagram that helped them create rhythm and form for their composition project. I gave them limited rhythm selection, based on their previous content knowledge of music theory. The form pattern introduced to them was ABBA, to show repetition in music is important and even with theme songs. They were to create a phrase of 8 measures for each part of them form; 8 measures for A and 8 Measures for B. This makes their song 32 measures long.
From there, we go into the composition software. I personally love Flat.io, but I know others that have done this projected and used Noteflight.com with ease as well. If these are too advanced with the group you are doing this with, you can always edited the project for Song Maker on Chrome Music Lab. I usually spend a day introducing the composition software if they have never played with it before and allow them to experiment with it before committing to their official project. Please keep in mind, too, that some students don't have proper composition knowledge - AND THAT IS OK! Allow them to use their ears!
I do discuss melody line and harmony/bass lines briefly with my kids. I tell them the melody is the part you can hum, and the harmony or bass line can be simplified to support the melody. You can just have your students do a one line of melody.
The guidelines that I gave them for this project were:
Must have 32 measures follow the ABBA form
Two instrumentations for their song - one melody and one harmony/bass
Keep in 4/4 Time Signature
They can pick ANY instrument they want from the composition software
These guidelines can be adjusted however you want to, put this is what I choice that work for my situation.
After they are done with their composition and their slideshow presentation (the interactive notebook with all their superhero information), they play their music, show their logos and read the backstory of the character. I personally like reading their backstory while their music is playing because it definitely adds to the experience!
Such a fun project to do! And definitely worth it to add it to your collection of music lesson units!
For the lesson I do with my kids, visit my Superhero vs. Villain Composition Project Lesson.