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 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. These 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 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 Creating Musical Camouflage with the Two-Spot Octopus

Journey 1a:      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 1b:           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 1c:       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 2 Exploring Batoid Locomotion through Musical Motion

Journey 2a:     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 2b:          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.