In Seth Bedford’s International Baccalaureate Music Course, students research well-known songs, research them, and write their own songs.
Bedford, the Odessa High School conductor, said he thought they could start with songs because it’s something they all know, interact with and identify with. They started to talk more about the origins of the songs and their importance.
Among the songs were “You Don’t Own Me”, “Und Was Bekam Des Soldaten Weib?” (Ballad of a Soldier’s Wife) and “It might as well rain until September”.
Three of Bedford’s students are Zachary Rivera, a 17-year-old who plays the guitar, Savannah Muniz, a 17-year-old who plays the bugle and Emari Johnson, who plays the clarinet but sang on the day of the visit of the American from Odessa. .
Muniz said the bugle is part of the trumpet family. âIt’s just a softer version. They use it in jazz, âshe added.
Bedford said the students are “super serious” about their music and are all in a band, a mariachi, or a guitar.
The students gave presentations on songs that were meaningful to them and did their own research. Muniz chose âAnything I Wantedâ from Billie Eilish.
âWe looked at how it was written, the influences of the person who wrote it, the story, the song’s form and the rhythmic variations to see if it influenced a particular writing style,â said Rivera.
He added that they took into account everything that made the song what it was and then broke it down retroactively to see the different parts as a whole.
âWe broke it. We went line by line and explained what the artist intended to sayâ¦ what we thought, âMuniz said.
Then they started working on an original song. They struggled with a topic because they were a bit overwhelmed.
To make it more manageable, they split it into lyrics and music. Once they picked a topic, they brainstormed ideas to get a feel for what they were trying to do, Rivera said.
ââ¦ First we started trying to write music and put lyrics on top of the music, but we found it to be more difficult, so we went the other way around, almost wrote a pseudo type of poem and then we decided okay, well what we have. This is what we want it to look like; this is the feeling that we are looking for. So for now we’ve started to put in different chords or ideasâ¦ to match what we wanted to convey through the music, âadded Rivera.
The song is about Zach’s dog, Bleu, and the song is called âBleu’s Cluesâ. When Blue was a puppy, he had blue eyes. Now he has brown eyes.
âIt came from a time when I was cooking outside and he just popped and stole a steak and left with it. It was collectively an idea that we really wanted to keep in the song, so from there, we pretty much built around that idea. â¦ We were determined to put that in there one way or another. Emari made a long list of ways we could incorporate that and from there we just made it work, âRivera said.
He added that the project gave them insight into the songwriting process.
“It certainly allows you to sort of see patterns that you might not have been able to discern before, whether it’s little things we’ve done with rhyming patterns or rhythms, inflection. It gives you a new perspective on what a song has the potential to mean, âRivera said.
Bedford said they got into “You Don’t Own Me” from an NPR show a few years ago. He was talking about the song’s ties to the civil rights movement, as the writers were involved in it.
“â¦ Quincy Jones is the first black executive producer basically in the world of pop music and how basically this team of producers and him and these writers got together and they said you know what, we are really fed up with the vision of the love and relationship between boys and girls that pop music sells to kids. It’s not for real. And basically they said what would happen if we wrote a song where the girl denounces the guy and so when they played it for Leslie Gore, she knew she hooked into it immediately, “Bedford said.” When she brought it up years later she saidâ¦ I never did. seen like that feminist hymn. She said that I saw it as a humanist hymn. She said that I saw that anyone could sing this to anyone else they just needed to s’ to assert and to be what I am. She has always been very proud that this is a feminist anthem. Butâ¦ when she recorded it when she was 17, it wasn’t where she was headed.
Bedford said the IB course was a year long and they would dive into all forms of music.
The melody of the song is very simple.
âWhen we started we knew we wanted two things: we wanted a light and uplifting song. â¦ We wanted something pretty simple, upbeat, âRivera said.
They went through rock and jazz ideas, but decided to stick with a format that was easy to understand, playable by everyone and allowed them to incorporate all of their ideas, he said.
Muniz said that when asked to write a song it was “like a new spectrum of music has been presented to me”.
âThe only hard thing we had to do was collaborate with each other and I never thought about having to collaborate with someone when trying to make a song or write music. â¦ I never had this struggle. I just thought someone wrote it, you played; it was simple in form. That’s all I sawâ¦ âadded Muniz.
When asked if they’ve found anything surprising about the origins of the songs they’ve looked at so far, Rivera said he thinks there is something extraordinary about every song. .
“… There is always more … than it seems, but when you really think about it, let it be Leslie Gore singing to a perceived feminist hymn that turns out to be more about us as a race.” human, or if we watch songs that seemingly talk about the soldier sitting next to his wife and in the underlying tones, we get that sense of remorse and death and loss. If you look under the cover of every song, you’re destined to find something that you didn’t expect, âhe added.
As to what’s next, Bedford said they decide as they go.
ââ¦ As we get into our topics and get a lot of theory, we get a lot of story, really, the material and what we do is more or less up to us. We get some freedom with it. I really want them to doâ¦ instrumental music. I want them to explore different periods and styles of music andâ¦ one of the things that I hope in the end is that they have a really good foundation in music theory before they finish the year. It’s really kind of music theory and history through practice, âBedford said.