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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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