Music provides a powerful and accessible representation to explore scientific data and concepts. Additionally, it offers an innovative tool to communicate scientific concepts and research to the general public and the visually-impaired. 

In honor of Walter’s love of both Science and Music, The Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans launched a project to investigate the potential for music to explore habitats and species in the ocean, as represented on THE MAP OF THE GRAND CANYONS OF LA JOLLA™.

In this project we explored the scientific concepts of Ocean Zones, Marine Species Adaptations and Locomotion.  It involved perceiving, creating and connecting diverse scientific concepts with a range of musical elements and structures that served to create a more integrated and deeper understanding. Our Musical Journeys evolved into a series of video lessons and online interactive games, as well as musical performances that incorporate specific Next Generation Science Standards and National Music Standards.

In the following three Musical Journeys, children of all ages explore relationships and connections among various marine species and habitats, through musical representations. Taking these Journeys, one discovers an immersive, interactive experience, where both visual and musical representations strengthen our understanding of this beautiful, interconnected natural environment. 

Musical Journey 1 Orchestrating Depth through Ocean Zones
Journey 1a:     Introductory Video Lesson:
                         Orchestrating Depth through Ocean Zones

Description: In this video lesson, we explore three different ocean zones (intertidal, neritic and oceanic) and several species that can be found in each one. Children will discover the connection between ocean depth and musical range and register. By linking each ocean zone to a specific range (Pitch from low A (A1) to high D (D7) to a group of instruments that play in these ranges, children can experience the different ocean zones through musical sounds.

Journey 1b:        Interactive Game:
                            Orchestrating Depth through Ocean Zones

Description: In this online game, children discover nine species that can often be found in the intertidal, neritic and oceanic zones. They select one species from each zone to be included in their final musical depth arrangement. As they select each species, a video is played showing the species in their natural environment. Children also can select among three instruments for each zone. All instruments perform a different melody in their respective low, middle and upper ranges. In the finale of the journey, the three species and three instruments combine to perform together with each species swimming across a graphic musical representation of their melody in all three zones. With the potential combinations of instruments and species, children can create a different musical arrangement each time.

Musical Journey 2 Creating Musical Camouflage with the Two-Spot Octopus

Journey 2a:      Introductory Video Lesson:
                          Creating Musical Camouflage with the Two-Spot Octopus

Description: In this video lesson, we focus on the two-spot octopus to discover its many unique characteristics and adaptations. Children will see beautiful footage of the two-spot octopus while learning of its ability to camouflage and hide from predators. The children will then discover the technique of musical camouflage as composers hide concealed names or words within a piece of music to pay tribute to a fellow composer or friend. Using the French method of musical cryptography, the children will learn to code letters into musical notes.

Journey 2b:           Interactive Game:
                               Creating Musical Camouflage with the Two-Spot Octopus

Description: In this online game, the children will explore an underwater illustrated environment where the two-spot octopus has camouflaged or hidden itself within the scene. Each hiding spot has a melody that can be played. In the ten hiding spots, the children listen to find the musical coded words “two,” “spot” and “octopus.” When they find all three words the two-spot octopus reveals itself. With each repeat of the game, the two-spot octopus hides in different locations providing the child with a new challenge each time.

Journey 2c:       Follow-up Video Activity:
                           Solving the Mystery Words in the Two-Spot Octopus Journey

Description: In the follow-up video lesson activity, the children will discover that the seven incorrect melodies played in the journey were actually real words that describe interesting aspects of the two-spot octopus. They then proceed to decode each musical word. The children must use their knowledge from the video lesson and listen to each melody to decode the mystery word missing from each sentence.

Musical Journey 3 Exploring Batoid Locomotion through Musical Motion

Journey 3a:     Narrated Introductory Educational Video Lesson: 
                         Exploring Batoid Locomotion through Musical Motion

Description: In this video lesson, we explore several types of locomotion using both visual and musical representations. Throughout the video, we compare and contrast mobuliform motion and rajiform motion using the Round Stingray, Munk’s Devil Ray and Bat Ray. Finally, we explore the similarity between mobuliform locomotion and the Osprey’s Flap and Glide Flight Pattern. Each locomotion is then paired with a melody that moves with similar melodic contour and rhythmic motion.

Journey 3b:          Interactive Game:
                              Exploring Batoid Locomotion through Musical Motion

Description: In this online game, children can create their own musical locomotion arrangements. They    drag and drop the four species’ cards into slots on the top part of the ocean landscape screen to determine which species will be included in their piece, and the sequence in which each appears. Their piece is then performed with computer animation showing each species swimming or flying across the screen while being accompanied by their matching animated locomotion melody. Each time the game is played, the child can select different species and a different sequence to allow for a unique experience each time.

On the next screen, children repeat the game while exploring a formal structure used in classical music. Rondo form creates a pattern of ABACA with the first melody repeated three times. The B and C melodies offer variety, giving the listener something new in between each repetition of the A melody. The children will create their locomotion melodies in the specific pattern of Rondo form. With the four different species included in the journey, children can create a different Rondo form locomotion piece each time.

Journey 3c:           Musical Performance:
                               Exploring Batoid Locomotion through Musical Motion
                               Ray Motion Music composed by David MacKenzie

Description: In this video, children will hear the premiere of a new musical composition with musicians performing on the violin, clarinet and cello. Throughout the piece, the mobuliform and rajiform locomotion melodies are developed and explored within a three-movement form. The video features the musicians’ performance footage with screen-animated locomotion melodies and underwater species videos.