Artsource - Alfredo Rolando Ortiz

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The Music Center’s Study Guide to the Performing Arts















Title of Work:

About the Artwork:

Joropo Azul and Zayante, Paraguayan Folk Harp

The audio selection is really a pairing of two

Creator: Alfredo Rolando Ortiz

contrasting pieces. Joropo Azul and Zayante are two short works, representing traditional styles with both

Background Information:

classical and folk roots from Latin America. The

“I was born in Cuba where the harp is not a traditional

pieces were originally improvised and then become

instrument. My adventure with the harp began when I was

totally new compositions. The first piece, Joropo Azul,

11 years old. Our family emigrated to Venezuela. As the

is in the style of joropo, the national folk dance of

ship neared land, I saw green forms rising up through the


clouds, and soon the mountains of Venezuela loomed in

composed in the traditional style of Paraguay. Joropo

front of us. As we drove up that mountain there was this

Azul is played in a major key, with very bright tones

beautiful music on the radio. I didn’t know what it was, but

and an upbeat rhythm. The melody sometimes

I fell in love with it.” It was a harp! As a teenager, Alfredo

follows the main beat and sometimes is heard off the

Ortiz borrowed one and began taking lessons from a fellow

beat (syncopated), which gives a complex texture to

student. His interest blossomed into a passion, as he began

the piece. You will hear accented main pulses, and the

to play the harp for hours at a time when schoolwork was

groupings of very short pulses.

done. On weekends he would get blisters from practicing as

Creative Process of the Artist or Culture:

he skipped meals and rest. He pursued the opportunity to

Latin American harps are folk harps. As with folk

hear the famous Paraguayan harpist Alberto Romero and

music around the world, Latin American harp music

met him backstage. Mr. Romero took an interest in the

is usually not written down. The musicians learn by

young boy who was fascinated with the harp, and after he

listening and watching, as well

heard Alfredo play offered to teach him at no charge. After

as memorizing some pieces.

graduation from high school, Alfredo was accepted to med-

Some become proficient at

ical school in Medellin, Colombia. His professional music


Each region

career began shortly after arriving in Medellin, when he



received his first paid assignment to play at a local wedding. One

structure and design of the

It is set in contrast with Zayante,

of the guests offered him a recording contract. Combined income from performances and recordings paid his way through medical school. In spite of his success as a harpist, Alfredo never missed a class and became a doctor. After five years of medical practice in Colombia, Dr. Ortiz moved to Southern California to study Music Therapy. Since 1978 his life has been wholly dedicated to music.



harp, as well as unique ways of Photo courtesy of Alfredo Ortiz


“Nature, my countries, the people I love, and the marvelous Latin American music styles are the seeds of my compositions. The titles only identify them... the melodies, their feelings and emotions are mine... and yours.” Alfredo Rolando Ortiz

California Cuba Venezuela

Discussion Questions:

Audio-Visual Materials:

After listening to the audio recording:

• Artsource® audio recording: Joropo Azul and Zayante,

• Does this harp music differ from what you expected?

courtesy of Alfredo Rolando Ortiz.

• What ideas or words describe the harp itself?

Sample Experiences:

• What words or images come to mind to describe Joropo Azul? How would you describe Zayante? • Describe the differences in mood between the two


* • The music Mr. Ortiz plays has repeating themes and patterns. In performance he also wears colorful

pieces. Discuss the feelings you had in listening to

traditional clothing with repeating bands of colors and

each one.


• For what celebrations or special events could this

Create rhythmic patterns using body

percussion and also design patterns in art. Use accents.

music be used?

• Latin America is a group of countries that share many

Background on Zayante continued:

cultures - that of their own indigenous populations, of

Zayante is characterized by a vigorous pulse and pow-

Spain and of others. Do you have blended cultures in

erful chord patterns.

your heritage? Is there special music or art that is a part

Following traditional

Paraguayan rhythms, it grows in dynamic waves, falls

of your traditions or celebrations?

back and then resumes with increasingly powerful

family’s traditions evolve? Do you think you will

crescendos. A quiet pattern played in a minor key

continue them? Is there a tradition that you would like

(misterioso) completes the contrasting elements of the

How did


to start?

piece. Between the patterns are several flowing


glissandos. The glissando is characteristic of harp

• Most of the music played by Dr. Ortiz is “pure music”

music, because on a harp all the strings can be

or patterns that he improvises to make something

strummed in quick succession, creating a wave of


sounds and colors.

Often the patterns are quite distinctive.

Listen to each of his pieces. Can you discern rhythmic

Multidisciplinary Options:

contrasts? Can you identify some of the patterns you

• The Ultimate Concert: Dr. Ortiz recorded suites to

hear? What tone colors do you perceive? Find a way to

celebrate the birth of both his daughters. At the sec-

draw or write the different patterns down.

ond birth, the obstetrician allowed him to bring the

elaborating on your basic ideas using graph paper and

harp to the hospital to comfort his wife, Luz Marina,

colored pencils.


and the emerging infant, Michelle Maria. Music was

* • Listen to a piece of music without words. Reflect on it.

improvised throughout labor and delivery. Several

What do you think of? What feelings do you get when

days later, the music was recorded in a studio, except

you hear this music? Think of a title for the music.

for the passage that had been improvised just as the

Design a CD album cover for it. What words would you

baby was born. The joy and beauty of the family are

use? What images would you show? How would you put

first heard in the patterns of the harp rising and falling

your words, images and music together?

back in waves and finally interspersed with the first


sounds of the infant. The final movement of the suite

* • Stringed instruments function according to precise

has never been attempted again. It cannot be repli-

mathematical and physical principles. Build a simple

cated. Describe a piece of music that you associate

tuned instrument - water glasses, rubber band harp,

with a special memory or celebration. Explain the

etc. and explore how sounds vary with tension, length

connection between them. Research different pieces

of strings, materials and size of the soundbox.

of music to find a piece that would capture the mood

• Research other harp music at the library. Listen to

and spirit of a specific event in your own life.

several different pieces and note the differences.


Indicates sample lessons


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HARP The harp is an ancient instrument that evolved from the hunting bow thousands of years ago. In Africa today they still play a single stringed musical bow with a gourd or turtle shell for the soundbox. Many types of harps are found throughout the world, but there were none found in the pre-Colombian Americas. The first harps were brought over by the Spanish missionaries. There are written records of famous harpists as early as the 16th century in Veracruz and other parts of Latin America. The Spanish harps consisted of a wooden soundbox and multiple strings of varying lengths. These harps, and other stringed instruments such as the guitar, came to characterize the music of Spain and found their way into the New World. The Spanish missionaries were proficient players and accomplished instrument-makers (luthiers). Research countries that have harps and find them on a map. What conclusions can you draw from your research?

Egyptian Harps

PREPARING FOR THE EXPERIENCE Understanding diversity is the key to understanding the arts of Latin America. Cuba, an ethnically diverse island set in the Caribbean Sea, is the artist’s birthplace. There is a strong Spanish influence in Venezuela and Colombia which both have seacoasts and enormous mountains. In Paraguay, the plains are far from the ocean. Two languages are taught there in schools; Spanish and Guarani, the language of the Guarani Indians. Prior to listening to the audio tape, give students some historical and cultural perspective on Latin America. Ask students what they know about any of these countries. Discuss how traditions are shared, and how independent traditions and musical styles might evolve in an area with vast geographical and ethnic diversity. Direct them to observe and listen to diverse aspects of the performance.




LEVEL I Sample Lesson INTRODUCTION: The music Mr. Ortiz plays has repeating themes and rhythmic patterns. Rhythm, one of the principle elements of music, is the distinctive grouping of sounds and silence in time, based on duration (length) of tone, strong and weak stresses and other factors such as harmony. It is usually regulated by a steady, regular underlying pulse or beat. Rhythmic patterns are also found in visual designs. For example, in performance, Mr. Ortiz wears colorful traditional clothing with repeating bands of colors and lines that form patterns. Each band is simple when alone, but form colorful and elaborate images when combined. When a shape, line or color repeats itself in a work of art, it creates a visual rhythm. This lesson is designed to increase an awareness of both musical and visual rhythmic patterns. OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to: • Recognize and identify rhythmic patterns in music. (Responding) • Create a variety of rhythmic patterns in music and be able to repeat patterns created by others. (Creating & Performing) • Recognize and identify patterns in art and clothing. (Responding & Connecting) • Design a repeated pattern in art, using different colors, shapes and lines. (Creating & Presenting) • Describe, discuss, analyze and connect information and experiences based on this lesson. Refer to Assessment at the end of this lesson. (Responding & Connecting) MATERIALS: Folk harp

• Artsource audio recording of Joropo Azul. ®

• Large sheets of paper and crayons or markers. PROGRESSION:


• Give some background information on Alfredo Rolando Ortiz and his music (see Unit pages 1-2). • Ask students if they know what a pattern is in art? in music? in clothing? Ask for examples and illustrations. • Play Joropo Azul and help the students clap the upbeat rhythmic beat of the music. Ask if students can identify and clap any rhythmic patterns that are repeated in the music. • Clap a few simple rhythmic patterns and have the students repeat or echo them. If you have trouble thinking of simple rhythmic sound patterns, use lines from a nursery rhyme such as “Jack and Jill.” Also make sure your patterns have certain sounds accented (stronger emphasis). • Ask different students to create simple clapping patterns that others echo. This is called ‘Call and Response.’ • Take each sound pattern and repeat it four times so that students can clearly hear the pattern. Encourage them to use other aspects of body or vocal percussion, such as stamping, snapping and clicks. • Look around the room and ask students to identify patterns in objects or in clothing that peers are wearing. If available, show photos of artwork featuring patterns. • TASK: After seeing many examples, pass out paper and crayons to students and have them create a simple visual pattern that they repeat many times. Ask them to have 3-5 different types of lines, shapes or colors in their pattern. Make sure they establish an order of lines, shapes and colors that is repeated. Some students may wish to cover a full sheet of paper or construction paper with their visual pattern. It is a good idea to play the music of Mr. Ortiz as they work, to give them added inspiration. • Display your students’ projects when completed. • Using some of the questions below, ask students to discuss their work and the work of their peers. EXTENSIONS: • Use stencils and paint to create a class mural of patterns; or paste patterns onto long strips of fabric or construction paper and group together in a hanging. • Use a full nursery rhyme and clap the rhyme first with words, then just with rhythmic sound. Try putting these patterns in the feet, adding movement. VOCABULARY: rhythmic pattern, design, Call and Response, musical tone, tempo, tone color (timbre), lines, shapes, colors ASSESSMENT: (Responding & Connecting) DESCRIBE: Describe either a musical or visual pattern and show three examples. CONNECT: Discuss ways that you can create patterns with numbers, words, houses, gardens, etc. Emphasis on: Common Core - CA State Standards for Language - Reading; Writing; Listening; Speaking




LEVEL II Sample Lesson INTRODUCTION: How does an artist select titles for each piece of music he/she composes? Dr. Ortiz draws from his personal experiences in thinking of some of his titles. For example, one piece is dedicated to his wife, whose name is Luz Marina - light from the sea - so he chose that as a theme and title. In another instance, the composer and his wife share a long-standing custom of looking at the moon and telling each other: “Te regalo la luna” or - “I give you the moon.” He took this idea and composed a song, using that title and the images of the moon, to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Another piece, The Butterfly Trees, was inspired by a visit to Santa Cruz, California, where he saw thousands of Monarch butterflies which appeared literally as “a carpet of wings covering every leaf and branch of the tree.” OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to: • Create titles for different selections of music. (Creating) • Design a CD cover to convey the images of a song. (Creating & Presenting) • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of some of the ways that composers find inspiration for their music and titles. (Responding & Connecting) • Describe, discuss, analyze and connect information and experiences based on this lesson. Refer to Assessment at the end of this lesson. (Responding & Connecting) MATERIALS: • Artsource® audio recording of Joropo Azul and Zayante. • A variety of instrumental music that displays a contrast of rhythms, qualities and moods. • Paper, preferably the size of a CD cover, and pencils, crayons or markers.

PROGRESSION: • Give some background information on Alfredo Rolando Ortiz and his music (see Unit pages 1-2). • Play the Artsource® audio cassette recording of Joropo Azul and Zayante. Ask students what images come to their minds as they listen to the pieces. If they could give each piece a title, what would it be? What images, colors and designs would they create for the CD featuring one of them. 6

• Now play a selection of three other pieces of music. Make sure that they each have different moods and qualities and are strictly instrumental. Ask students to select one piece that appeals to them. They are to give the piece of music they selected a title and then plan a CD cover to illustrate it. • Pass out the materials and ask the students to begin their project. The title can be small or large, but must in some way connect to the drawing of the scene or images that express the title. • Display and share the work of the class. Use some of the questions below to begin a conversation about the different interpretations. EXTENSION: • Write a poem that depicts the images you associate with the piece of music. Read the poem as the music plays in the background. VOCABULARY: pattern, CD, image ASSESSMENT: (Responding & Connecting) DESCRIBE: Describe the music you selected so that someone knowing nothing about it would have an idea of what it sounds like. Think of adjectives that could describe it (joyful, eloquent, intricate, precise, flowery, light, lively, courtly, busy, etc.) DISCUSS: Discuss the images that came into your mind as you listened to the music. ANALYZE: Look at the different interpretations for the same piece of music by different students in the class. Discuss and analyze why the images were the same or different. CONNECT: Think of other things that people give titles to, such as cars, businesses, animals. What purpose does a title have in identifying an object or concept? What meaning does it convey? (metaphor/symbol) Emphasis on: Common Core - CA State Standards for Language Reading; Writing; Listening; Speaking Orchestral harp




LEVEL III Sample Lesson

INTRODUCTION: The harp, a multi-stringed instrument, is an ancient invention that may have begun with the sounds of the hunting bow thousands of years ago. People realized that the vibrations of a string, held securely at both ends, could produce sounds. Stringed instruments function according to precise mathematical and physical principles. The length, thickness and tension of the string determines the pitch and quality of sound that will be heard. OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to: • Construct a basic stringed instrument. (Creating & Presenting) • Discuss the relationship between sound and the principles of physics that produce sound. (Responding & Connecting) • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the history of the harp. (Responding & Connecting)

Photo courtesy of Alfredo Ortiz

• Describe, discuss, analyze and connect information and experiences based on this lesson. Refer to Assessment at the end of this lesson. (Responding & Connecting) MATERIALS: • Artsource® audio recording of Joropo Azul and Zayante. • Photos of stringed instruments (harp, violin, viola, cello), if available. • Each group will need: one 9" x 12" sheet of peg board, 16 golf tees, rubber bands, fishline or thin wire, two stacks of books about 6 inches high. PROGRESSION: • Share with students some of the basic principles of sound production. vibration - is needed to produce sound pitch - tension and length of string affects frequencies of sound waves amplification - a soundbox is needed on a stringed instrument; the initial vibration must echo through a larger space in order to be heard over a distance harmonics - fractional equivalents on the string that produce octaves, fifths and additional intervals when the length of the vibration is interrupted • Give some background on Alfredo Rolando Ortiz (see Unit pages 1-2) and play the two pieces of music from the Artsource® audio. Ask students to pay particular attention to the different pitches and durations of sound they hear. 8

• Discuss the characteristics of the harp (see page 3) and other stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, mandolin, etc.). If you have photos of these instruments, show them to the students. Ask what characteristics they have in common and what is unique to each. • Guide students in constructing a simple rubber band harp. They will need the following materials: 9" x 12" sheet of peg board 16 golf tees rubber bands two stacks of books about 6 inches high • Work in small groups. Stack the books, and set your peg board on top. Install a row of 8 pegs across the bottom of the pegboard. Then install a diagonal row of pegs in ascending order toward the top of the board. Stretch the rubber bands vertically across the two rows of pegs. • Experiment with the sound you can make with the different lengths of stretched rubber bands, fishline or thin wire. Think of some of the following questions. How does the length of the string affect pitch? How does the tension of the string affect pitch? Can you play a simple tune? If you have access to stringed instuments, how does the construction of the instrument affect the sounds? • Share findings from your experiment with other groups. EXTENSION: • Ask students who play a stringed musical instrument to bring it to class and show it and play it for the other students. Ask them to pay particular attention to the sound box and arrangement of the strings, as well as the thickness of the strings. Do the strings vary in thickness? Ask the student who owns the instrument to show the class what happens when the strings are tightened or loosened and how the musician controls that aspect of the instrument. • Use new or old guitar, violin or cello strings or different thickness of bendable wire as alternative ‘strings’ on your harp. Work with them until you can achieve a high quality of sound. Try pressing down on the strings at different points to see if you can change the pitch. VOCABULARY: stringed instruments, vibration, tension, duration, pitch, amplification, harmonics, intervals ASSESSMENT: (Responding & Connecting) DESCRIBE: Describe, in your own words, the principles behind a person's ability to produce and hear sound. DISCUSS: Discuss the main ideas you learned from this construction of a rubber-band harp. ANALYZE: Discuss the main differences between the instrument you made and a professionally-made instrument. CONNECT: What are the differences in the way sound is produced by stringed instruments compared to wind and percussion instruments? Emphasis on: Common Core - CA State Standards for Language - Reading; Writing; Listening; 9 Speaking