Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pentatonic Songs

The pentatonic scale, a 5-note scale, is the basis for countless folk songs around the world. Here's an explanation of the importance of the pentatonic scale in an Orff classroom:  

The music used in the classroom is based on the children's own heritage with a combination of folk and composed music. Here in America, our classrooms are multicultural. Orff philosophy embraces the folk music of all cultures. They are almost all in the universal pentatonic scale. (Five note scale - separated by whole steps.) C Pentatonic would include the pitches C D E G A. This is the most common scale used in Orff because it is easily used with the Orff instruments. (source

A la Claire Fontaine - more

Acadian Lullaby - more

Ai Hai Yo - more

Aia o Pele i Hawaii - more

Arirang - more

Alabama Gal - more

Al Citron - more

All Night All Day - more

Bickle Bockle - more

Bought Me a Cat - more

Buckeye Jim - more

Built My Lady a Fine Brick House - more

California - more

Camptown Races - more

Cape Cod Chantey - more

Chattanooga Choo Choo - more

Chicken on the Fence Post - more

Cotton Eye Joe - more

Crawdad Song - more

Dinah - more

Ding Dong Diggidiggidong - more

Doctor Foster - more

Ducks on the Millpond - more

Ezekiel Saw the Wheel - more

Fukien Boat Song - more

Git on Board - more

Goin' Down to Cairo - more

Goin' Upon the Mountain

Great Big House

Great Mornin'

Green Mountain

Hambone - more

How Can I Keep From Singing

Jim Along, Josie

John Kanakanaka - more


Mince Pie and a Pudding - more

Mister Rabbit

Old Ark's a-Moverin'

Old Brass Wagon - more

Old Dan Tucker - more

Old King Glory - more

Rattlin' Bog

Shake Them 'Simmons Down

Song of the Dragon

Sun Don't Set in the Mornin' - more

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - more

Teddy Bear - more


There Was a Man and He was Mad - more

This Train is Bound for Glory - more

Tideo - more

Who Built the Ark - more


I like this book by Cristi Cary Miller. It has some great songs in it. 


  1. Thanks for putting so much thought into organizing your songs! I am putting together some resources for a student teacher...coming here was SO much easier than pulling from a million different books! Thanks!!

  2. Beth, I'm currently working in Mumbai, India without many of my resources. This is helping me model pentatonic songs. A million thanks to you for putting this together! Love your blog!

  3. Hi, I'm working with some kids in Ethiopia. The pentatonic scale is used in all their folk songs. This is a lovely collection! Thank you for your hard work!

    1. Kathleen,

      My sister adopted her daughter from Ethiopia, and she is now living with me for awhile. Do you know of any resources where I could find Ethiopian folk songs?

      Thank you!

  4. Oh my gosh, I just had so much fun going through these pieces of music! I've honestly never been that keen on recorders or orff... but some of these are so much fun, and have such great, applicable material to our school system's incredibly intense curriculum, I just love it!

  5. Thanks for the great song resources - I am studying Music Therapy and these will be so helpful

  6. Great collection. I think "Farmer in The Dell" can be added as well. Thank you!