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Exploring Harmony and Accompaniments

This unit investigates some of the different techniques of Musical Accompaniments through the exploration of Folk Songs.  The concept of Harmony, relating specifically to Intervals, is reinforced through progressively more complex Musical Accompaniments from a simple Pedal (octave), Drone and Ostinato (fifth), to Chords as Triads, Broken Chords, Arpeggios and Alberti Bass patterns (root, third, fifth).  The concept of Harmony is developed further in the exploration and addition of Counter Melodies (in fourths and fifths) in Folk Songs. 

The unit takes “The Wellerman” Sea Shanty as its case study where pupils sing and perform the melody and add different forms of Musical Accompaniment patterns and a Counter Melody using different intervals before creating their own Musical Arrangement.  Other Folk Songs are also given in Lead Sheet notation: “Drunken Sailor”, “Soldier Soldier”, “Scarborough Fair” and “Early One Morning”, although teachers may like to substitute these with regional or national Folk Songs from their own area/country.

During this unit, pupils will develop their knowledge and understanding of Folk Music as a “traditional” musical genre, explore the musical instruments, timbres and sonorities commonly associated with Folk Music performance, the texture and basic form and structure of Folk Songs and further their knowledge of performing Chords in different Accompaniment patterns on either keyboard/piano, guitar or ukulele.  

Folk Music - Folk Songs Lead Sheets

Folk Music - General Resources

Folk Music - Cover and Homework Activities

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Folk Music - DOITNOW (Starters) and Plenary Activities

Folk Music - “DOITNOW” Presentation

Cutting down on printables, file storage and media files, the “new look” Musical Contexts “DOITNOW” Folk Music lesson openers Presentation contains  a wealth (only two samples shown here), of effective “DOITNOW’s” when delivering the Folk Music unit in just one place - all audio and video files are embedded and there’s accompanying Teacher’s Notes in the “slide comments” section. 

Folk Music - Plenary Review Activities

A series of lesson reviews where pupils review their learning and understanding.

Folk Music - 5 Minutes Silent Reading

For teachers who prefer to begin their lessons with quiet, focused openers.  All contain “Questions to Think About” which can also be used as Cover or Homework tasks.

1. English Folk Music


Folk Dance: Irish Jig and Reel Resources

Taken from the Musical Contexts “Dance Music” unit

Folk Music - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Folk Music - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Includes Scheme of Work Overview, Unit Learning Objectives, Learning Outcomes and Lesson Pathways.

Folk Music - Sea Shanty Case Study: “The Wellerman”

“The Wellerman” Lead Sheets

"The Wellerman" includes a Song Sheet, Lyrics, Melody Lines (in Em) with and without note names and progressive accompaniment patterns: tonic pedal, drone, ostinato, chords (I, IV, V and III & VI in E natural minor) and counter melody in 5ths together with thoughts on how to put together a Sea Shanty arrangement (at home or at school).

Key Words, Concepts and Musical Knowledge

History and Types of Folk Music: Folk Song, Work Song, Sea Shanty, Instrumental; Oral Tradition; Folk Song Accompaniments: Pedal, Drone, Ostinato, Chords (on piano, keyboard, guitar or ukulele) as Accompaniment: Triad, Broken Chord, Arpeggio, Alberti Bass; Harmony: Intervals, 5ths; Arrangement, Lead Sheet; Basic Folk Song Structure: Introduction (intro), Chorus/Refrain, Verse; Folk Song Textures: Melody, Chords, Bass Line;  Instruments of Folk.

Music Theory


Links to GCSE Music

Traditional Music




“Early One Morning”

Basic score analysis and listening to two different versions of “Early One Morning”.  Constructing chords I, IV & V in F Major and choosing suitable chords to create an effective accompaniment using different accompaniment patterns from chords. 

Contains teacher’s notes and answers. 

Early One Morning Audio 1                 Early One Morning Audio 2

“Drunken Sailor” Lead Sheets

“Drunken Sailor” includes a Song Sheet with Lyrics and Chords, Vocal or instrumental Harmony Riffs, Chords (Keyboard, Guitar or Ukulele) to create an accompaniment and two Counter Melody Harmony parts for pupils to create their own Sea Shanty musical arrangement with varying harmony accompaniment patterns. 

“Drunken Sailor” WWW/EBI

Presentation containing embedded audio extracts of ensemble arrangements of the Sea Shanty “Drunken Sailor” for pupils to peer-assess in terms of WWW (What Went Well)/EBI (Even Better If…), graded from least to most effective with Teacher’s Notes in slide comments.




“Blowin’ in the Wind”

Listening questions and score reading on  Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” (in E flat Major).  Contains answers.


Blowin’ in the Wind Audio

Folk Song Harmonies

Identifying Intervals of 4ths and 5ths in “Apple Tree Wassail” by The Waterstones aurally and score analysis (treble and bass clef).  Contains answers.

Apple Tree Wassail - The Waterstones

Listening to Folk Music by The Corrs

Sorting musical features while listening to two contrasting pieces of Folk/Folk Rock Music by The Corrs.  Contains answers.  

The Minstrel Boy - The Corrs

Toss the Feathers - The Corrs





Listening to an Arrangement of “Drunken Sailor”

Listening questions on Malcom Arnold’s arrangement of “Drunken Sailor”.  Contains answers. 


First Shanty from Three Shanties for Wind Quintet - Malcolm Arnold

Listening to World Folk Songs

Listening questions on voices, instruments, accompaniment and form and structure of English, Irish and American Folk Songs.

Contains answers. 

World Folk Songs (“The Foggy Dew” (The Dubliners); “Rocky Road to Dublin” (The High Kings”; “Freight Train” (Mike Seegar)

Listening to Folk Music

Listening questions on voices, instruments, roles, accompaniment and chords in “Bogie’s Bonny Belle” and “Rocky Road to Dublin”

Contains answers. 


Listening to Folk Music Audio - “Bogie’s Bonny Belle” and “Rocky Road to Dublin”

Creating a Musical Arrangement

Concept Map covering Personal, Physical, Technology and Musical Resources for consideration when creating a Musical Arrangement. 


The Acoustic Guitar and The Guitar Family

Labelling parts of the acoustic guitar, simple guitar knowledge questions and instruments in the guitar family. 

Can be done without using ICT.



“Soldier Soldier” Lead Sheets

“Soldier Soldier” includes a Song Sheet with Lyrics and Chords, Full Score Piano Accompaniment in Treble and Bass Clefs (no note names),  Chords I, I7, IV, V, V7 (and II7) for Keyboard, Guitar or Ukulele to create an accompaniment and a bass line part for pupils to create their own musical arrangement with varying harmony accompaniment patterns. 

“Solider Soldier” WWW/EBI

Presentation containing embedded audio extracts of 3 ensemble arrangements of “Soldier Soldier” for pupils to peer-assess in terms of WWW (What Went Well)/EBI (Even Better If…), graded from least to most effective.



“Scarborough Fair” Lead Sheets

“Scarborough Fair” includes a Song Sheet with Lyrics, Melody Line with note names, a Counter Melody Harmony Part and, because this is written in the D Dorian Mode, an explanation of the scale and Chord Patterns for pupils to create their own musical arrangement with varying harmony accompaniment patterns.

“Scarborough Fair” WWW/EBI

Presentation containing embedded audio extracts of 3 ensemble arrangements of “Scarborough Fair” for pupils to peer-assess in terms of WWW (What Went Well)/EBI (Even Better If…), graded from least to most effective.


Irish Jig and Reel Study Guide

A 5-page Study Guide introducing Irish Folk Dance (Jig and Reel), instruments of Irish Folk Music, Listening Questions and a GCSE-style Listening Question on Irish Jig and Reel.  

Contains Teacher’s Notes and Answers.

Irish Jig and Reel Video 1 - Jig and Reel Dances in Action          Irish Jig and Reel Audio 1 - Irish Folk Music Instruments          Irish Jig and Reel Audio 2 - Listening to an Irish Jig and Reel

Irish Jig and Reel Audio 3 - Simple and Compound Time in Suite No.2 (Holst)          Irish Jig and Reel Audio 4 - Beat Grouping in Simple and Compound Time

Irish Jig and Reel Audio 5 - Listening to Irish Jigs and Reels          Irish Jig and Reel Audio 6 - GCSE-Style listening question on Irish Jigs and Reels

Irish Jig and Reel Audio 7 - Carraroe Jig (The Corrs)



Performing “Cooley’s Reel”

Binary Form Irish Reel melody in 2/2 time with the option to create a (drone) accompaniment using the chords of E minor and D Major.  Audio Example on Cooley’s Reel Audio

Performing “Kesh Jig”

Binary Form Irish Jig melody in 6/8 time with 1st and 2nd time bars in G Major.

Pupils create Chords I, IV and V in G Major and create a suitable jig accompaniment.