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About Berklee PULSE

The Berklee PULSE® Music Method is a unique and innovative online music education portal that enables students to study, jam, and practice using interactive modules and an ever-expanding collection of popular music. PULSE is open to anyone, with exclusive resources available through Berklee City Music, Amp Up NYC, and select public school partners. PULSE gives students and teachers the benefits of a Berklee education no matter where they live. Learn more about PULSE here.

Learn about the original Berklee production and explore lessons based on the film. Check out the Notation Mixer, an interactive tool that can synchronize multiple tracks of audio with accompanying music notation. Sign up for a 60-day demo account so you can explore the full Berklee PULSE website.

More Lessons

Homage To Professor Longhair

Henry Roeland Bryd, better know as Professor Longhair, is a legendary blues pianist and singer who played a big part in the history of New Orleans music. His iconic combination of the rumba with blues, boogie-woogie, and "second line" parade rhythms influenced New Orleans' greatest piano players including Fats Domino, Eddie Bo, James Booker, and Dr. John. This lesson will introduce students to the basics of "second line" rhythmic patterns from New Orleans and their ties to Afro-Cuban traditions.  

Improvisation: Mixolydian Rock Groove

Have you ever worried about playing the "right" notes that you couldn't enjoy playing your solo? The D Mixolydian Rock Groove featured in this lesson consists of a chord progression over which you'll improvise using the D Mixolydian scale. You'll find that as long as you're playing in D Mixolydian, you don't need to worry about switching up your notes over the chord changes, because the notes in the correct mode will sound good over all the chords. Instead you can focus on melodic ideas, articulation, technique, emotion/feel, dynamics, rhythm, tone, phrasing, space/rest, and listening.

Transcribe & Transpose...Then Jam!

This holistic lesson will test your ear training, composition, and performance skills. By transcribing the original refrain from the spiritual "Wade In The Water" you will then be asked to transpose the melody to a different key using chromatic transposition techniques. Once transposed, you will have the opportunity to play the melody over an original PULSE groove of "Wade In The Water"!

Create Your Own Afro-Latin Groove

This last lesson in the BANDED series is a culminating experience in which students will build on rhythmic and melodic concepts introduced in all of the previous lessons in the series. The activities in this lesson will focus mainly on building a groove around the 2/3 son clave rhythm pattern and will explore the basic cascara rhythm and other rhythms that are commonly found in many styles of Afro-Latin music. Drawing on experience with pentatonic and blues scales from previous lessons, students will then improvise or compose their own Afro-Latin inspired groove.

The Clave

In our next BANDED lesson students will dive into the basics of a rhythmic pattern called “clave”, named after the traditional two-stick percussion instrument. There are two basic types of clave: son or rumba clave. Most Afro-Cuban styles of music are built around one version of the clave pattern, which is fixed and repeated throughout the song, and forms the foundation for percussionists, as well as the other musicians in the ensemble. Watch the video to view how Zili Misik incorporates clave patterns into their music.

Exploring and Performing Afro-Cuban Rhythms

This next set of PULSE BANDED lesson strategies begins by featuring the band Zili Misik. The foundation of their music-making is based on respect and collaboration, and their music is influenced by roots music of the African diaspora. Using their music and spirited performance as a jumping off point, these lessons will provide some historical context and engage students in listening to and playing a variety of rhythmic grooves inspired by music of the African diaspora.

Youth Gospel Choir With The Staple Singers

Students will discuss the socio-political factors that gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s with connection to The Staple Singers' music. By exploring the tune "Wish I Had Answered" students will connect their past discussion to the music they are learning. Demonstrations within PULSE include how to use assets from Take Me To The River, a featured length film that takes a look into the history of STAX Records and the music of Memphis, Tennessee.

Remixing a Current Hit Song to Teach the 12-Bar Blues (Video Tutorial)

This exclusive video tutorial series features Harold Stephan's presentation at the 2016 City Music Summit as he demonstrates how to remix a current hit song to teach the 12-bar blues. Demonstrations within PULSE include how to use assets from Take Me To The River and the Study Room to create a rhythmic scaffold of a tune synched to a YouTube video using Noteflight (for student compositions) in order to create an interdisciplinary blues lesson.

Cultural and Technological Factors of the Blues

Students will explore the socio-political factors that gave rise to the blues and discuss technology's influence on shaping musical genres. Demonstrations within PULSE include how to use assets from Take Me To The River and the Study Room to create an interdisciplinary blues lesson. 

Leveraging a Current Hit Song to Teach the 12-Bar Blues

This two part lesson, with an exclusive video tutorial series, features Harold Stephan's presentation at the 2016 City Music Summit as he demonstrates how to leverage the power of a current hit song to teach the 12-bar blues. Demonstrations within PULSE include how to use assets from Take Me To The River and the Study Room to create a rhythmic scaffold of a tune synched to a YouTube video using Noteflight (for student compositions) in order to create an interdisciplinary blues lesson.

From Minor Pentatonic Scale to the Blues Scale

This culminating lesson will build on BANDED Lessons 1 & 2, and will enable students to gain an awareness of the relationship between the minor pentatonic and the blues scale. In addition, students will be introduced to the harmonic structure of the standard blues progression. Students will begin by composing and playing simple melodies based on the blues scale, then move on to improvising over a 12-bar blues using different approaches.

Exploring Form Using Minor and Major Pentatonic Scales

The activities in BANDED Lesson 2 will build on the composition concepts introduced in BANDED Lesson 1, and will lead students on a deeper exploration of pentatonic scales, this time examining the relationship between minor and major pentatonic scales using a variety of song forms to guide the composition process.

Improvisation: From Minor Pentatonic to Aeolian Mode

This lesson allows your students to explore their musical creativity through improvisation by developing ideas for melodic lines using the Aeolian mode. Students will gain an aural and theoretical understanding of the Aeolian mode through improvisation and analysis of a minor key groove in our Notation Mixer.  

Compose a Song Based on an Image

In the film Banded, Boston-based band Ghost Box Orchestra discusses an idea for a new work based on an image using a simple E minor pentatonic riff. Watch the clip from the film then explore the accompanying exercise in your classroom. Through this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the relationship between musical and visual expression by creating a minor pentatonic composition for a chosen piece of media.