Creating a Pentatonic Melody

Creating a Pentatonic Melody

Connie Vanco Galli
[email protected]
Shepherd Hill Regional High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



High School


Band in a Box, MIDI Keyboard


90 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic knowledge of piano keyboard. Ability to locate and play pentatonic scale.

NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME standard of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME standard of 1994: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
NAfME standard of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME standard of 1994: Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

NAfME 2014: Connections


Optional Hand Out – Recipe Card for using “Band In A Box”


a.Students will learn, and play at the keyboard, a pentatonic scale using A, C, D, E and G

b.Students will develop skills necessary to use “Band-in-a-Box” software for playback and improvisation

c.Students will create original melodies using the pentatonic scale over a pre-set chord progression

d.Students will make decisions concerning which melody notes sound “right” against different chords in the progression


a. Prior to the lesson, create a template for the following chord progression: am7 am7, dm7, am7, e5, dm7, am7 (12 bars). Save to disk or individual stations

b.Explain/demonstrate how to open song template in “Band-in-a-Box.”

c.Demonstrate how to change the performance style. Have students listen to several styles as a group.

d. Students return to individual station to explore styles and select a preference. (8-10 minutes) Encourage students to explore a variety of titles/styles.

e. Explain/demonstrate a pentatonic scale (a,c,d,e,g)

f. Demonstrate an improvised melody for the class using several different accompaniment styles

g. In demonstration, use patterns that “work” and patterns that “don’t work.” Have the students listen critically as you play. Use very simple as well as complex patterns.

h. Discuss the use of repeated rhythmic patterns

i. Students return to their individual stations to experiment

j. When students are comfortable, have them play for the class.

k. Prior to the end of this activity, each student should record a inal product.”


Assessment Rubric

5. Uses only notes of the pentatonic scale
4. Most of the notes are correct with one or two mistakes
3. Some pitches correct (50-90%)
2. Few pitches correct (less than 50%)
1. Does not use the am pentatonic scale

5. A predominant rhythmic pattern (or patterns) is used to structure the melody throughout
4. There is evidence of rhythmic structure — one or more patterns are used several times
3. There is some evidence of rhythmic repetition, but it is used in a way that does not add structure to the melody
2. There is little rhythmic repetition
1. Random

5. Contains all 5 notes of the am pentatonic scale and at least 2 distinct rhythm patterns
4. Contains at least 4 notes of the am pentatonic scale and at least one distinct rhythm pattern
3. Contains at least 3 notes of the am pentatonic scale and at least one distinct rhythm pattern
2. Contains 1 or 2 notes of the am pentatonic scale and no rhythm patterns
1. Contains one pitch for entire improvisation

5. Student plays for class with confidence, with steady beat and attention to chord changes
4. Student recorded piece shows steady beat and attention to chord changes
3. Student recorded piece shows steady beat, but no attention to chord changes
2. Student recorded piece shows some understanding of the rhythmic pulse
1. Random

Follow Up:

Improvised melodies with expanded chord progressions / major and minor scales

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