Element 1: Discovering and experiencing New Music


This module section deals primarily with listening to, reflecting on and identifying aesthetic qualities of contemporary music. Using the example of selected compositions by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Maurizio Kagel, and Karlheinz Essl, the following suggestions for your lesson planning are concerned with the sensitive handling of listening expectations, as well as the discovery and reflection on possibly new, unknown forms of musical expressions. On the basis of the selected compositions, pupils will identify music-aesthetic aspects, such as

  • liberal approaches to traditional forms and ways of expression,
  • the remaking and alienation of familiar, recognisable music pieces, such as the oldest Christmas song: Praise be to you, Jesus Christ in the Sonata for Viola Solo by Bernd Alois Zimmermann,
  • the reinterpretation of an instrument such as the toy piano by having an expert play it professionally,
  • the use of experimental playing techniques.

The idea is to verbalise one’s own perceptions when listening to the compositions, to reflect impressions and apply them in a playful manner.

Ideally, pupils will experience an authentic concert situation with professional ensembles / musicians specialising in contemporary music. In current directions such as represented by Karlheinz Essl, a toy instrument, for example a toy piano, is played by a professional and assumes a new meaning.

Alternatively, this module sections includes film recordings from the project that may be used for illustrative purposes.

  • Duration: 2 x 90min

Key words creativity & entrepreneurship: Persistence, Interaction with the environment, Identification of problems


Performance situation

Pupils experience a concert situation by working with professional musicians specialising in contemporary music. Alternatively, pupils may view or listen to videos of professional recordings:

Karlheinz Essl: Kalimba (for toypiano & playback) (2005)

Maurizio Kagel: MM – Ein Stück Filmmusik für Klavier (1976)

Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Sonate für Viola solo (1955)


Optionally, the reflection can take place in a joint discussion. Alternatively, the following impulse questions can be written on cards to be discussed and answered by pupils in small groups. The groups then present their results in class.

  • How is attention created during the listening process?
  • What made the music exciting?
  • Were there any playing techniques used on the instrument that were new or unknown to you?
  • Were there any phases or parts during which the music sounded particularly intense? What created this intensity?
  • Does the music sound rather strange or rather familiar in your ears?

Examples of factors creating suspense / concentration / intensity, as suggested by pupils:

  • variety, contrasts (loud-quiet, fast-slow),
  • unpredictability in the sense of surprise,
  • unusual sound colours and playing techniques (pizzicato, glissando, flageolets),
  • pauses!!!,
  • deliberate way of performing, not randomly, but explicitly and clearly,
  • pupils describe inner images that the music triggered in them


Pupils form small groups and select one of the images discussed in the reflection. Together they link it to the aesthetic qualities previously discussed and develop short music pieces on their own music instruments, or on school instruments. The groups then present their pieces in class, followed by a brief reflection on the qualities each group used to express their sound images.


The pupils are able to:

  • identify different characteristics of contemporary music.
  • recognize diverse factors that make music exciting or intense.
  • verbalise their listening experiences.
  • describe concisely different aesthetic qualities.


  • Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Sonata for Viola Solo (1955)
  • Mauricio Kagel: MM51-Ein Stück Filmmusik für Klavier (1976)
  • Karlheinz Essl: Kalimba (2005) for toy piano and playback