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Music Theory


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Visual and Performing Arts


60 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Music Lesson: Consonance and Dissonance

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Apr 24, 2024
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Students create a consonant and dissonant musical composition in response to the visual effects of climate change.

Inquire: Students reflect and identify musical components in instrumental songs that convey specific feelings.

Investigate: Students learn the terms and intervals of consonance and dissonance, then identify the quality and number of intervals in well-known instrumental clips.

Inspire: Students watch a time-lapse video showing the effects of climate change and create a musical composition reflecting their feelings with consonance and dissonance.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students learn and connect a music theory skill to iconic jingles and climate change topics.

  • Students create music using dissonance and consonance to express their feelings.

  • This lesson is easily adaptable to all music appreciation and general music theory classes or performance groups such as Jazz Band in middle and high school.

  • This lesson includes extensions into advanced music theory, research into diverse classical composers, and musical application.

  • This lesson can be taught alone, connected to lessons on intervals or tonality, or with a study on non-Western scales such as the Indian raga scale, the Middle Eastern maqam scale, and the Chinese/Japanese pentatonic scale.

  • This lesson can be taught in a unit on protest songs or a social studies unit on social justice protests.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of music notation, concepts of major and minor, intervals, and triads.

  • Students should have access to sheet music paper, music manuscript paper, or online music composition software such as Noteflight or Flat.

  • Teacher should preview and cue the listed audio clips of consonance or dissonance on a preferred listening platform, or create their own list.


  • Teachers can use any music composition software that is available to them, including applications that write musical notation as students play.

  • Students can expand into chromatic dissonances such as diminished, augmented, and tritones.

  • Using consonant and dissonant intervals, students can compose a soundtrack to go along with a timelapse video, then compare and contrast the difference in tonality between their soundtrack and the composition of their feelings from the Inspire section.

  • Students can research other sound logos of famous brands and identify intervals of consonance and dissonance.

  • Students can research classical composers known for their dissonance: Béla Bartók, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Florence Price, and Wuorinen Tania León.

  • Students can explore consonant and dissonant sounds found in other scales such as the Indian raga scale, the Middle Eastern maqam scale, the Chinese/Japanese pentatonic scale, and the Blues scale.

  • As a follow-up or extension activity, students can score instrumentation for a local or regional climate justice video.
Scientist Notes

This lesson shows how climate science could be conveyed through music. Hence, students can write songs as a way to advocate for climate action. The teaching resources were carefully examined and found to be suitable for use in a classroom.


Primary Standards

  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Music - Harmonizing Instruments: Standard 1 - Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • MU:Cr1.1.H.5a Generate melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic ideas for simple melodies (such as twophrase) and chordal accompaniments for given melodies.
    • Music - Harmonizing Instruments: Standard 2 - Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • MU:Cr2.1.H.5a Select, develop, and use standard notation or audio/video recording to document melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic ideas for drafts of simple melodies (such as two-phrase) and chordal accompaniments for given melodies.
    • Music - Harmonizing Instruments: Standard 3 - Refine and complete artistic work.
      • MU:Cr3.2.H.5a Share final versions of simple melodies (such as two-phrase) and chordal accompaniments for given melodies, demonstrating an understanding of how to develop and organize personal musical ideas.
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