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Musical Fraction Bars
- making melodies with fractions -

The Musical Fraction Bars activity connects your knowledge of fractions and length to musical pitch.  Simply choose your fractions and press play your fractions will transform into a musical composition you can see and hear!  If you would also like to build a homemade musical instrument that is based on these fractions, check out Phil's Fraction Tubes activity page.

Here are the fractions and pitches we will use:

The lowest pitch we will use is called "middle C" on a piano. The length of this bar will equal 1.  Notice how the bars get shorter as we continue up our "C major" scale.  In music, longer lengths produce lower pitches, and shorter lengths make higher pitches.  This not only applies to our Fraction Bars, but also to brass, woodwind, and string instruments.  For example, a cello has a string that plays the pitch called C.  If you place your finger on the string so that only 3/4 of that string vibrates, the cello will then play the pitch called F.  What pitch will you hear if you allow 3/5 of that string to vibrate?


How to play Musical Fraction Bars: Scroll down until you see the Fraction Bars they're near the bottom-left part of the page. Click on a Fraction Bar. While holding your mouse down, drag the Fraction Bar up to the number 1 on the top ruler and release the mouse button. Notice that you can place a Fraction Bar on any of the ruler lines. Also notice that you can place two or more Fraction Bars on top of each other. To delete a Fraction Bar, just drag it off the ruler and release it.  Press the Play button and the Fraction Bars will start playing.

You may also want to start by looking at the some of Phil's favorite songs and rhythms you can see them by pressing the Songs button. You will find musical examples from around the world including popular folk songs, holiday favorites, ancient melodies from Mexico, and drum language phrases from Ghana and the Congo.  Now, start enjoying the sounds of fractions!

Technical Note: You must have Macromedia Flash Player 6 for this activity to work. If you don't have it, you may obtain this free download from Macromedia at: http://sdc.shockwave.com/shockwave/download/alternates/.


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