Making Simple Ratios (Activity for Students)

Goals for Simple Ratio Activity: Students will understand how music, through its rhythmic hierarchy can reveal mathematical ratio’s.  In this case we will focus on a simple 2:1 relationship to see how one can create this using different note durations.  Students will employ multiplication and knowledge of fractions to calculate how often these durational values will repeat

Common Core: Gr 5 – addition, subtraction and multiplication of fractions; Gr 6 – using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems

What You Are Going To Do

Using Impromptu’s Drummer Playroom, how many different ways can you find to make a 2:1 drum piece using three percussion instruments?  This short tutorial on the drummer playroom will show you what to do.

How you might figure out what you need to do to calculate a 2:1 ratio using different size rhythm blocks as your Grouper Block.  How many times are you going to have the Grouper block repeat and how many times will the Basic and Divider blocks need to repeat to come out the same at the end.

  • The beats at each level should have a 2:1 relationship with teach other—as in the illustration below.Figure 1
  • The three instruments should include one playing the grouper beat, one the basic beat, and one the divider.
  • If your Grouper or slowest beat repeats 8 times, how many repeats will you have to have for the basic beat; for the divider beat?  Do the math on paper first and then see what happens when you try this in Impromptu.
  • What about the repeats so that all three instruments end up together? They too, will have a 2:1 proportional relationship with each other.
    • Now try this again using a different number block as your Grouper
    • What if you don’t see the number block you want to use?  Try creating new blocks by checking out this short tutorial on how to create new blocks

All your drum pieces will sound the same in one way, and different in another way.

Note: The top voice in the drummer playroom is a melody voice played by a melody instrument; the other three voices are for percussion instruments. You can experiment with a choice of instruments by opening the instrument menu as you can see in the figure below. Select the violin shaped icon to the left of each voice, scroll down the menu and select one instrument for each voice.Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 11.59.00 AM

Here is a chart that a 5th grader made in preparation for this project. His computer had two drum sounds—Boom (in one voice) and Ping in the other.