Words and music

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Tutors: Pauline Vessely, Émilie Viaut/ sociologists

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud


“Words and Music” takes the class into the world of music to widen their knowledge of instruments, instrumental formations and the key characteristics of musical genres. Using an active open-ended listening system (French and English repertoires) and a specific methodology, they listen to lyrics, voices, melodies, arrangements. The workshop alternates listening and analytical sessions, and teaches pupils to use sociological and anthropological methods. All media are used (vinyl, digital discs); each one conditions a particular way of listening and perceiving.

“Ne me quitte pas !”
The teacher, tutor and pupils talked about the music and songs they like to listen to. This material brought out the differences between criticism and analysis, passive and active listening. The workshop was then divided into alternating phases of listening and analysis. Songs were chosen from French (rap, pop, rock) and English repertoires, such as “Ne me quitte pas” (Don’t leave me) (Brel vs Sting), enabling the pupils to master methods and notions that they could use in a less familiar field.

Live on stage
A focus on the experience of listening to a concert. The pupils chose the French band Kat Onona, which was giving a single concert in Paris. The band’s various styles (rock, jazz, experimental music), influences (Velvet Underground), reprises and interpretation (Radioactivity by Kraftwerk, Billie Jean by M. Jackson) made a rich and interesting field for study, both musically and sociologically. With the help of the sociologist, the class prepared the session by drawing up a list of questions to answer while listening to the concert, and a grid for analysis after the concert.

What happened?
To decipher the concert, the pupils analysed the band (formation, names of the musicians, solo career of the members, etc.) and the concert venue. They looked at the staging (position of the musicians on stage, movements), lighting, and the audience. The tutor recorded the pupils’ personal opinions on the concert during the last class session.

The Words and Music project led to a ten-minute tape, broadcast through the school over F93’s special sound system. The tape used the pupils’ analyses, especially of the Kat Onoma concert. 



Participating schools:
- Class (4th) Collège Claude Debussy, Aulnay-sous-Bois
- Class (3rd) Collège Jean Jaurès, Villepinte