NC Science Olympiad
2014 Sounds of Music
Division: B - Middle School
NC Essential Standard Alignment:  
Official Event Rules: see the national manual
Score Sheet: 2014 Sounds of Music Score Sheet (rev. 1/20/14)
National Event Page: Sounds of Music

(NC Only): There will be no section 4.d. Knowledge. (10/1/13)

(NC Only): Section 1: Description "each team must build two instruments (of any two of the
following three types: percussion, strings, winds)" will be considered a construction requirement for purposes of scoring in 5.h. "Teams that violate a rule in the Construction section must be ranked behind all other teams that do not." (1/20/14)

This is a building event. Prior to the competition teams will design and build 2 musical instruments based on a 12 tone tempered scale. These may be based on real instruments (a drum, flute etc), or something completely made up (think blue man group). At the tournament teams will describe their instrument's operation and perform a major scale, a required melody (Hornpipe, Water Music, Handel) and a chosen melody. For 2014 teams must build instruments that are any 2 of the following 3 types: percussion, strings, or wind.

Materials: Teams MUST bring something to write with, their instruments and the score for both their chosen music and the required melody. Please bring additional copies of your score for the judges to follow along on. Teams may also bring a music stand if needed.

Event Leaders will bring the official score sheet and any devices they so choose to help analyze the quality of the music performed.

High score wins. Points are earned for the quality of the performance as well as construction of the instruments. For a complete list of all scoreable topics, see the official score sheet.

Common Mistakes:

  • - Strings are the only parts allowed to be from professional instruments. Do not bring any other professional parts into the event at the competition even if you do not plan on using them (such as guitar straps, straplocks, tuners, etc). Keep those things outside the competition area.


  • - If teams intend to build a very professional looking instrument, be prepared to show pictures of the work in progress or packaging/receipts from purchased materials to prove that the instrument truly was designed and built from scratch (and non-professional parts). This will help eliminate any confusion. If this is the case, you are more than welcome to bring photos, etc into the event.
  • - Don't be a no-show!! Even if you walk into this event with a very simple instrument(s), you can at least attempt to answer the questions and get credit for being there. That will automatically place you ahead of every team that didn't show up, which at regionals is usually close to half of all teams. This will help out your team score tremendously! In a large region like Raleigh or Charlotte, it can decrease your overall team score by as much as 20 points, even if you rank near the bottom! (remember- low team score wins). Here are several very simple instrument ideas: 
  •    1)     Water glasses filled to different levels, strike with a spoon.
       2)      Plastic soda bottles taped together to beat on.
       3)      A series of variable length plastic light bulb tubes to blow through. 
       4)      Collect large metal coffee or peanut cans and hammer the bottoms to different depths to produce different notes when struck as a drum. 
       5)      Bamboo grows wild in many parts of NC and can be cut into tubes with closed bottoms.  Cut the lengths from the top to produce different notes, and strap them together.  Cut a bevel in the top of each for best sound.

Event Resources:

2013 Coaches Institute Presentation (2014 rules)
2012 Coaches Institute Presentation (2013 rules)
2011 Coaches Institute Presentation (2012 rules)
2010 Coaches Institute Presentation (2011 rules)
Don't know how to read music? Read this first.
A larger copy of the allowable range (we know the one in the rules is hard to read!)

The required music for 2014: Hornpipe, Water Music, Handel. We know the one in the rules is hard to read.

required melody

Photo and Video:

Video Competitors must be able to explain to the judges how their instrument works, and is played. Judges may ask the competitors questions about how the instrument was built. In this video, competitors from Cardinal Gibbons High School explain how their homemade pipe organ works.
The instruments must be able to play a scale requested by the judges. Here is a percussion instrument playing a scale in G major.
The instruments must be able to play a single note requested by the judges, checked with a chromatic tuner. Here are both instruments playing the note.
Once competitors have proven their instruments can play the requested notes, scale, and required song, they are able to perform a song of their own choosing. Here are 2 girls from Cardinal Gibbons High School performing their chosen song, "When the Saints Go Marching In", in honor of the New Orlean's Saint's last day as reigning Super Bowl Champs (Video taken February 5, 2011)
A great example of a percussion instrument, played by Kent Jenkins. See him do a medley of recognizable songs for a talent show
2 Students perform "Under the Sea" on their instruments in 2007 (Different type of instruments- percussion and string) at the Southern California State Competition
The basic concept behind a wind instrument- change the frequency it reverberates at (by changing the size) and you change the sound
Bailey Schultz from Cardinal Gibbons demonstrates his hydro-pipe.


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