Chord Canons

Chord Canons

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Two things I don’t cover enough in my classes are harmony/chord work and composition. Here’s an activity that covers BOTH and your older students will LOVE it!

Once your students have learned the primary triads in a Major key and can sing these triads in various ways try this chord canons activity to practice but also to show how INCREDIBLY easy it is to compose beautiful music!



Step 1. Write this on your whiteboard or project onto a screen via digital projector/IWB.

Chord Canon bass



Sing the bass notes of each chord in solfa with handsigns like this (example given in C Major but any Major key can be used):


Chord Canon 1



Step 2Sing the notes of the chords vertically in solfa like this:

Chord Canon 2









then write the notes you just sang on the board like this:

Chord Canon chord notes








Step 3. Sing the notes horizontally now, as a melody (line beginning with d, then line beginning with m, then line beginning with s) like this:

Chord Canon melody






Step 4. Discuss why this melody is hard to sing (strange leaps etc). Move the notes around within each vertical chord to make the melody more logical and easier to sing. For example, if you swap the fa at the bottom of the second chord with the do at the top of that chord then the first two notes you sing in the melody will both be do Sing your new melody firstly as a melody, then as a canon.

Chord Canon melod


Chord Canon melody 3



Step 5. Finally add passing notes to make the melody more interesting. Add passing notes to only one part per bar or it may sound messy e.g.:

Chord Canon melody 4a






How beautiful is that???

You can add auxiliary notes, suspensions and other great compositional devices in a way that will make these chord canons come alive to your students!


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