Drawing The Planets

Drawing the Planet - Example Picture

In a recent OrchLab project, we used a famous suite of music called The Planets, by Gustav Holst, as our inspiration music. You can find out more about it in our Planets Listening Guide. In this activity we’re going to create our own graphic musical score, which we can then use to create our own original pieces of music.

Setting up the activity

You will need:

  • Pens/pencils/mark-makers and lots of paper (or iPads with a painting app such as Charcoal)
  • iPads with Thumbjam installed
  • A recording of ‘Mars’ from The Planets (see below)

Running the activity

  1. First, set everyone up with a method of drawing or painting, then listen to ‘Mars’ from The Planets, encouraging the group to draw whatever they want while listening! Here’s one we made earlier…
Drawing the Planet - Finished Picture
  1. Encourage everyone to share their drawings and say a little bit about them.
  2. Next, it’s time to create graphic scores using the drawings. Use an iPad to take a photo of the drawing, and then set the drawing as the background image in Thumbjam.
  • Open Thumbjam on your iPad and press on Preferences (Prefs) in the bottom right corner
Drawing the Planets - thumbjam screenshot 1
  • Press on Options
Drawing the Planets - thumbjam screenshot 2
  • Scroll down and press on Custom in the Background Image menu
Drawing the Planets - thumbjam screnshot 3
  • Press on All Photos and choose your drawing
Drawing the Planets - thumbjam screenshot 4
  • Press Done to close the Preferences menu
Drawing the Planets - thumbjam screenshot 5
  • You can now trace the shape of your drawing in Thumbjam to ‘hear’ your picture and create your piece of music
Drawing the Planets - example picture on iPad
  • Now each artist can create a new piece of music by ‘playing’ their own (or someone else’s) drawings.

Explore more:

Why not try this activity while listening to ‘Jupiter’ (you can watch our LPO musicians perform an extract of this) or you could try a different Planet and see if the results are different!