#1 Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know

Topic: Popular music

Concept(s): Texture

– Australian composer, Mandatory Course

For those who are unaware, Gotye is an Belgian-born Australian musician and composer. His song ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ features New Zealand artist Kimbra and has taken the #1 chart spot in countries around the world! Watch the video below to get a feel for the song.

The following are activities aimed toward a class in the Stage 4 Mandatory Music Course.


Students will be given access to computers to download MIDI files consisting of rhythm/drum beat, guitar, xylophone, bass and main melody to ‘remix’ and arrange as they see fit. This exercise will allow students to manipulate the original texture of the composition and in the process discover the function of texture and how they can use it to their advantage in their own compositions.

Students learn to:

  • experiment and improvise both individually and in groups using stimulus characteristic of the repertoire studied

4.6 experiments with different forms of technology in the composition process


Students will be asked to listen to the piece ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ and, on their own, identify how many different instruments they can hear as they enter the piece and to listen to the role that the instruments play in the piece. Students will be asked to differentiate between the melody and accompaniment and to make note of the different layers during the verses and choruses. Through this exercise students will learn how the use of texture can signal different sections, effect the dynamic and mood of a piece.

Students learn to:

  • identify how concepts of music have been used and manipulated in a range of repertoire

4.8 demonstrates an understanding of musical concepts through aural identification and  discussion of the features of a range of repertoire.


To surprise students, the song will be taught in segments so that the identity of the song may be somewhat obscured as it takes samples from a number of different compositions. Students will be given a number of 1, 2, 3 or 4, with each number representing a different part of the song that they will perform. Group 1 will learn the simple guitar line, Group 2 will learn a rhythmic beat that they will be able to perform using their knees and hands, Group 3 will learn the melodic accompaniment (which is ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’) while Group 4 will be taught how to play the main melody in the easiest way possible. Once the students are capable of performing their parts they will be visually taught where they are to enter the piece and where to drop out. This will enable the students to understand texture and how one can manipulate it.

Students learn to:

  • perform musical compositions and arrangements individually and/or in groups

4.3 performs music demonstrating solo and/or ensemble awareness


The concept of texture will be explained to students using excerpts from ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. Students will be asked to visually illustrate the layering and textures of the song on the whiteboard. The idea of layering and sampling will be explained to students as the song is influenced by and uses samples of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’ and ‘Seville’.

‘Seville’ by Luiz Bonfa:

Students learn to:

  • respond to the range of repertoire used for listening

4.9 demonstrates musical literacy through the use of notation, terminology, and the reading and interpreting of scores used in the music selected for study.


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