Teaching K-12 Harmonic Skills: Part 2
Learning Harmony Continues With
More Complex Steps
Teaching students to hear harmonies and vocally produce them is a step-by-step (simple to complex) process of teaching multi-leveled inner hearing (audiation) involving both rhythm and tonal skills.
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The following 7 complex harmonic skill activities, comprised of complete phrases and songs, sequentially build on the simpler tonal and rhythmic activities in Harmonic Skills Part 1.
8. Partner Songs
Two or more different songs with the same harmonic chord progression are called partner songs. Because of the same harmonic progression, these songs may be sung simultaneously, even if they are different meters. The "Bottle Pop Song" from Knauss Music Curriculum, Book 3, with its three melodic sections, is a partner song. Also "Ten Little Indians" combined with "Skip To My Lou" and "Sandy Land" from KMC, Book 2, are excellent partner songs.
9. Combinable Songs
A combinable song is very similar to a partner song. In a combinable song, two sections of the same song, such as verse and refrain, may be performed simultaneously, provided that they use the same harmonic chord progression. A fun example of a combinable song is "Farm, Farm, Farm" from Nichols Worth, Vol. 3, words and music by Doug Nichol. The bibliographical information on the Nichols Worth book is available in the Music Education Resources section of this website.
10. Tonal Rounds With Dissimilar Contours
Tonal rounds with dissimilar contours are easier for SS to sing than rounds with similar contours. SS can internally hear and grasp larger contrasts more easily than smaller differences. Dissimilar rounds contain melodic contours that are in contrary or oblique motions to each other. The "Ghost of John" is a great 4-part dissimilar round that may not only be sung as a regular 4-part round, but also in augmentation as a 4-part round, and in diminution as a 4-part round, so that a total of 12 parts may be sung simultaneously. The "Ghost of John" is found in KMC, Book 2, and is also illustrated as a 12-part round in Kids Worship I: Words & Orff Music Adaptations as "What Can Wash Away My Sin" featuring alternate words suitable for a religious setting.
A countermelody is a secondary melody written to accompany a primary melody, usually having text derived from the primary song. "The Hootchy Kootchy Dance" in the Mixolydian mode, from Nichols Worth, Vol. 2, is a fun song with 3 countermelodies. The bibliographical information on the Nichols Worth book is available in the Music Education Resources section of this website.
12. Tonal Rounds with Similar Contours
More difficult than tonal rounds with dissimilar contours are rounds with similar contours, because the melodies of the phrases are parallel motion to each other, usually set apart only by the interval of a third. This distance of only a third creates a nearly impossible challenge for musically inexperienced SS to stay on their individual parts. The traditional "Down At The Station" round is an example of this because the second phrase is a third interval higher than the first, and the third phrase is a replication of the first.
13. Partner Song Rounds
Partner song rounds are songs that may be sung together simultaneously both as partner songs and as rounds. The traditional rounds "Are You Sleeping?" and "Three Blind Mice" are excellent examples. "Are You Sleeping?" and "Three Blind Mice" are in duple and triple meters respectively, and create metrical intrigue when performed simultaneously.
14. Modal Canons
It seems our USA culture features mainly major and minor modes. Therefore, modal canons and songs in other modes are valuable musical experiences for SS. The "Instrumental Canon" by Jos Wuytack and additional modal transpositions by Dr. Knauss are rounds with dissimilar contours in the seven modes: Ionian (Major), Aeolian (Natural Minor), Mixolydian, Dorian, Lydian, Phrygian, and Locrian. The "Instrumental Canon" is an 8-part round, which may be sung in 4-parts beginning on the odd numbers, or in 8-parts beginning on every number. See KMC, Book 3.
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