Vocal melody improvised over a chord loop
Improvise a vocal melody using a prewritten text and a predetermined chord loop. This works best as a group activity but is also suitable for individual teaching.
Goal and output
Practising how to build a melody based on a text and a chord loop.
Examining and understanding the relationships between various musical elements.
Notating the melody (if desired).
An improvised vocal melody that may be subsequently notated.
Have the students write a poem (or other lyric) beforehand or to select a suitable text. The text to be used may also be provided by the teacher.
Select the chord loop to be used before the class, or design the chord loop together with the students.
• Play the chord loop on a piano or other suitable instrument. As you repeat the chord loop, the students should start singing on notes that fit the chord loop: first long notes belonging to the chords, then more complicated improvised melodic figures and patterns.
• Once the students have become comfortable with the harmonic environment, have them begin to fit the selected text to their melodic ideas. Continue until the students have settled on a vocal melody for the text.
• You may have one student perform their improvised melody for the others while you continue to play the chord loop. The others may accompany the melody by singing long notes along with the harmony.
• At the end, the improvised vocal melody may be written down.
Topics in the assignment
Detailed description of tools
Piano or other suitable instrument. Notation aids are needed if the students are required to write the lyrics themselves. Music paper is needed if the improvised melody is to be written down.
In many cases, students will find it easier to improvise if they are allowed to move around freely in the space at the same time.
Assignment suitable for further study