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Machine Music from Musical Contexts provides a range of fun and exciting music activities and learning opportunities combining singing, performing, composing and listening and appraising with all of the resources you’ll need in one place!  Ideal for non-specialist music teachers (with a wealth of supporting media files to model tasks and a detailed scheme of work and lesson plans) and a wealth of fresh inspiration for music specialists.  This unit has cross-curricular links with a number of popular primary topics including machines, engines, trains and transport, factories, space, clocks, electronics and video games.

​This unit takes the starting point of machines as the basis for an exploration into graphic scores and repeating cyclic patterns.  Pupils begin exploring the sounds created by steam engines and trains, listening to “train-inspired” pieces and exploring how short, repeated vocal and rhythmic and melodic patterns are used to describe the perpetual motion of a trains’ movement.  Pupils them move onto explore the cyclic sounds created by factory machines using a selection of vocal and body sounds to recreate cyclic sound patterns.  After a brief exploration into space machine sounds, where pupils’ learning on graphic scores are developed, the unit ends with an exploration into video game sounds where pupils create their own sound effects (a good ICT opportunity) for a video game, recording their ideas using graphic notation.

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Worksheet 1

“Machine Music”

Composing Sheet

Worksheet 2 - Video Game Listening Sheet


(uses Audio 2 & 3)

Worksheet 3

Listening to “The Viennese Musical Clock”

(uses Audio 8)

Worksheet 4

Listening to “The Little Train of the Caipira”


(uses Audios 17 & 18)

Worksheet 5

Composing “Video Game” Sound Effects





Video 1

“Short Ride in a Fast Machine”

(John Adams)


(Audio on Audio 15)

Video 2

“Pacific 231” - (Honegger)


(Audio on Audio 16)

Video 3

“The Iron Foundry” - (Mosolov)


(Audio on Audio 9)

Video 4

Honda Civic Choir TV Advert


(Audio on Audio 12)





Video 5

The Typewriter Song

(Leroy Anderson)


(Audio on Audio 11)

Video 6

Steam Machine Music



Scheme of Work

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Lesson Plan (DOC)

Lesson Bundles (ZIP)

Download all the resources you need for each lesson (excluding video files) in a ZIP file.

Click here for the latest version of WinZip...

Lesson 1

Exploring Steam Engine & Train Sounds

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson 1

Resource Bundle

Lesson 2

Exploring Cyclic Train Patterns

Lesson Plan 2

Lesson Plan 2

Lesson 2

Resource Bundle

Lesson 3

Exploring Factory Machine Sounds

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson 3

Resource Bundle

Lesson 4

Exploring Space Machine Sounds

Lesson Plan 4

Lesson Plan 4

Lesson 4

Resource Bundle

Lesson 5

Exploring Video Game Sound Effects

Lesson Plan 5

Lesson Plan 5

Lesson 5

Resource Bundle

Lesson 6

Exploring Video Game Sound Effects

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson 6

Resource Bundle








Starter/Plenary 1

Graphic Score Cards

Starter/Plenary 2

Graphic Flaschcards

Audio 1

Steam Train Sound Effects

Audio 13

Machines (Back to Humans)


Audio 14

Factory Steam Engine Sounds

Audio 6

Clapping Music

(Steve Reich)

Audio 7

Music for Pieces of Wood

(Steve Reich)








Starter/Plenary 3

Graphic Scores

Starter/Plenary 4

Body Percussion & Vocal Sounds

Starter/Plenary 5

Video Game Sound Effects


(uses Audio 23)

Starter/Plenary 6

My Machine Music Learning








Score 1 - Detector Probe


(uses Audio 4 & 5)

Song Sheet 1 - Driving in my Car


(Song example on Audio 10 & song melody on MIDI 1)

Score 2

Train Departure

Vocal Graphic Score

Score 3 - Train Departure Vocal Rhythms


MIDI 2 - Part 1;     MIDI 3—Part 2;     MIDI 4 - Part 3

MIDI 5 - Part 4;     MIDI 6 - All 4 parts together




Score 4 - Inter-City

(Audio example on Audio 19)

MIDI 7 - Part 1;     MIDI 8 - Part 2

MIDI 9 - Parts 1 & 2 together

Song Sheet 2 - Chattanooga Choo Choo

Vocal Song Example on Audio 20

Instrumental Example on Audio 21

Song Melody on MIDI 10

Song Sheet 3 - Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

Song Example on Audio 22;   Song Melody on MIDI 11