/multimedia/Interactives/beethoven-rocks/beethoven-rocks-5th

Beethoven: Listening to Symphony No. 5

The Riff Heard ‘Round the World

About

There are four Web shows in the Beethoven Rocks! Series:

  • Meet Mr. Beethoven, where you’ll get to know more about the man and his music.
  • Get the story on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (this page), with its famous “da-da-da-DUM.”
  • Explore his Pastoral Symphony, which paints a scene of country life using music.
  • Learn about an important section of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, called the “Ode to Joy”— and maybe you’ll even sing along!

Check them out!

Subscribe to this audio series:

Get ready to meet one of the biggest names in music.

Did you know two hundred years ago, Ludwig van Beethoven was the world’s most popular rock star? And guess what? He’s still BIG!

This interactive media player gives you an introduction to the life and work of the Classical music composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven’s greatest hits include Moonlight Sonata, Für Elise, “Ode to Joy,” and his famous Fifth Symphony. You might not recognize these titles, but you’re sure to know the melodies. You hear them today in movies, television, ring tones—and orchestral concert halls.

In this multimedia player, you will learn about the famous “da-da-da-DUM” motif in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and get to know the composer’s basic tools including beat, rhythm, and pitch. 

Rock out

Musical Terms You Should Know

Symphony: A long work for orchestra in three or four smaller parts called “movements.”

Motif: A short rhythmic or melodic idea that is repeated in a composition.

Sonata: A musical composition for one, two, or three instruments in three or four movements.

String quartet: A group of four musicians, usually two violins, a viola, and a cello.

Listening to...Symphony No. 5
The Riff Heard 'Round the World

Did you know two hundred years ago, Ludwig van Beethoven was the world’s most popular rock star? And guess what? He’s still BIG!

Part of the reason for that is his famous 5th Symphony. Seriously, it is so famous it even got sent into outer space, so that aliens can find it. In this media player you will learn about the famous “da-da-da-DUM” motif in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and get to know the composer’s basic tools including beat, rhythm, and pitch.  

What do you think?

Those four notes and that short-short-short-long pattern sound simple enough, but in Beethoven’s music, they build into a big, majestic theme that people haven’t been able to get out of their heads for two hundred years.

Beethoven plays around with a few key tools that are in every composer’s toolbox. What are they? How did he use them? Listen to the 2 audio stories, and think about these questions:

  • All music starts with a beat, a steady clock-like tempo that paces through the music. What is the basic beat of the 5th Symphony?
  • The rhythm is the series of short and long notes that lay on top of the beat. What rhythm do you hear? Can you follow it by tapping your fingers along with the music?
  • Music has high notes and low notes and where the note is placed is called the pitch. The pitch can move in steps to the next note right beside it, up or down— like when you sing “do-re-mi.”  It can also jump or leap to a note several tones away -- like this: “do-mi-do -- do-so-do.” What does Beethoven do with pitch?
  • “da-da-da-DUM” is the big motif in Beethoven's Fifth. Each time the motif returns, it changes a little bit. It could be faster or slower; higher or lower—or it could be reversed.  That’s the thing with a motif—it is a musical idea that returns or repeats— as a variation.
  • Sometimes the music is moved around the orchestra, so different instruments add their voices. What instrumentation did Beethoven use as the motif repeats throughout the piece?
 

For the Educator

Bigger than You Might Expect

There’s a lot to cover when teaching about Beethoven and his music. The resources in this set contain information about composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and listening activities relating to three major symphonies (the 5th, 6th and 9th.) The activities are designed for grades 4 and up, and may be presented by the classroom teacher or music specialist.

The listening activities in this player were originally created to support the National Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert Beethoven Rocks! Some of the clips reference the concert— specifically the “Ode to Joy” sing-along practice track— but this will not impact most classroom uses.

In addition, our Elementary Music advisor, Russell Nadel of the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public School system, has shared SMART Board files that incorporate and extend these resources for interactive whiteboards.

The Riff Heard 'Round the World

In this section, students learn about the famous “da-da-da-DUM” motif in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and the composer’s basic tools including beat, rhythm, and pitch. To guide and extend the learning...

  • Discuss how the opening notes of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 became the “riff heard ‘round the world.”  
  • Connect students to the “knock-knock-knock” activity, which provides a gestural exercise for students to perform as they listen to Beethoven’s short-short-short-long pattern. This exercise reinforces lessons in beat, rhythm, and pitch contained in the Listening Activity.
  • Encourage students to share their understanding of pitch and rhythm.
  • Discuss the concept of “motif” and how it unfolds in the music.    

Credits

Writers

Doug Cooney
Original Writer

ARTSEDGE Staff

Editors & Producers

Lisa Resnick
Content Editor

Richard Paul
Audio Producer

ARTSEDGE

Media Credits

Special thanks to our narrator, Susan Stamberg of National Public Radio.

Music courtesy of Naxos America.

Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 23, "Fur Elise" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Balazs Szokolay, piano
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moonlight" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Jeno Jando, piano
Naxos 8.556651

Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, "Pastoral" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Bela Drahos, Conductor
Naxos 8.553474

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Bela Drahos, Conductor
Naxos 8.550178

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Bela Drahos, Conductor
Naxos 8.553476

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, "Choral" by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, Richard Edlinger, Conductor
Gabriele Lechner, soprano
Diane Elias, contralto
Michael Pabst, tenor
Robert Holzer, bass-baritone
Naxos 8.550181

Mastering by Hillside Recording

Illustrations by Jim Caputo of Groggy Dog Studios

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