Subject content

Introduction

Introduction

Musical language/content 

The musical references made below under the heading The organisation of sound form the basis for the exploration of all Areas of Study within GCSE Music. The whole musical experience of this course – both teaching and learning – should be centred on them. 

Candidates will be expected to be able to understand notation suitable to the occasion, including staff notation. 

The five Areas of Study for all of the units in this specification are: 

  • AoS1 Rhythm & Metre 
  • AoS2 Harmony & Tonality 
  • AoS3 Texture & Melody 
  • AoS4 Timbre & Dynamics 
  • AoS5 Structure & Form 

These will be explored through three Strands of Learning: 

a) The Western Classical Tradition 

b) Popular Music of the 20th & 21st centuries

c) World Music 

The organisation of sound 

Rhythm & Metre 

  • pulse
  • simple & compound time  
  • regular, irregular, free  
  • augmentation, diminution, hemiola, cross-rhythm  
  • dotted rhythms, triplets, syncopation  
  • tempo, rubato  
  • polyrhythm, bi-rhythm
  • drum fills 

Harmony  

  • diatonic, chromatic  
  • consonant, dissonant  
  • pedal, drone
  • cadences: perfect, plagal, imperfect, interrupted, Tièrce de Picardie
  • identification of major, minor and dominant seventh chords using Roman numerals/chord symbols 

Tonality  

  • tonal, major, minor, modal  
  • use and identification of key up to 4 sharps and 4 flats  
  • modulation: 
    • to dominant/subdominant in major or minor key 
    • to relative major or minor 

Texture  

  • harmonic/homophonic, polyphonic/contrapuntal
  • imitative, canonic, layered  
  • unison, octaves, single melody line, melody with accompaniment, antiphonal

Melody

  • intervals within the octave  
  • conjunct, disjunct, triadic, broken chords, scalic, arpeggio
  • passing notes, acciaccaturas, appoggiaturas  
  • blue notes  
  • diatonic, chromatic, pentatonic, whole tone, modal  
  • augmentation, diminution, sequence, inversion  
  • slide/glissando/portamento, ornamentation  
  • ostinato, riff  
  • phrasing, articulation  
  • pitch bend  
  • improvisation 

Timbre

  • instruments and voices singly and in combination as found in music for solo instruments, concertos, chamber groups, pop and vocal music  
  • generic families of instruments as found in world music  
  • timbre, including the use of technology, synthesised and computer-generated sounds, sampling, and use of techniques such as reverb., distortion and chorus  
  • instrumental techniques including con arco/with a bow, pizzicato/plucked, con sordino/muted, double-stopping, tremolo/tremolando
  • vocal techniques such as falsetto and vibrato 

Dynamics  

  • gradation of dynamics as follows: 
    • pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff 
    • cresc., crescendo, dim., diminuendo 
    • sfz, sforzando 
    • 'hairpins'  
  • common signs, terms & symbols 

Structure & Form  

  • binary, ternary, call & response
  • rondo, theme & variations, arch-shape  
  • sonata, minuet & trio, scherzo & trio  
  • strophic, through-composed, da capo aria, cyclic  
  • popular song forms  
  • ground bass, continuo, cadenza 

Unit 2 only: 

Composer, Performer & Audience
  • intention, use, purpose  
  • commission, patronage  
  • technical/emotional demands  
  • amateur/professional performance  
  • performance practice, interpretation, improvisation 
Occasion, Time & Place  
  • sacred, secular, utility  
  • private, public, concert
  • live, recorded, media
  • internet  
  • performing conventions 

The teaching should enable students to gain:

  • the necessary listening skills which will enable them to respond to questions in the Listening and Appraising paper
  • knowledge of the Areas of Study as indicated by the terms listed under The organisation of sound above
  • the necessary levels of knowledge, understanding and skills to enable them to link the Areas of Study to the Strands of Learning. 

The Strands of Learning are to be used to enable students to:  

  • understand and recognise how the elements of music as listed in The organisation of sound are used in the Areas of Study.  
  • appreciate/understand how composers use the Areas of Study

Unit 1 - Listening to and Appraising Music

Unit 1: Listening to and Appraising Music

Assessment is through a terminal examination marked by AQA examiners. Candidates respond to questions based on short musical excerpts drawing on music from all five Areas of Study. Recorded excerpts of music will be provided on a CD. Questions will be: 

  • objective tests 
  • structured responses 
  • extended responses. 

1 hour; 20% of the total marks; 80 marks 

Candidates explore the five Areas of Study (AoS) through the three Strands of Learning. Through their exploration of these five AoS, candidates will develop an understanding of the organisation of sound.

AoS for the whole specification are based on the Musical Elements: 

  • AoS1 Rhythm & Metre 
  • AoS2 Harmony & Tonality 
  • AoS3 Texture & Melody 
  • AoS4 Timbre & Dynamics 
  • AoS5 Structure & Form 

These will be explored through the three strands:

a) The Western Classical Tradition

b) Popular Music of the 20th & 21st centuries 

c) World Music 

Within each strand, candidates could explore any music from the following areas to gain an understanding of how composers have used the Elements of Music as listed in the five AoS. Questions will focus on listening skills related to the AoS and not on the specific genres of the strands. 

a) The Western Classical Tradition 

  • Baroque orchestral music 
  • The concerto 
  • Music for voices 
  • Chamber music 
  • The sonata 

b) Popular Music of the 20th & 21st centuries 

  • Blues
  • Popular music of the 1960s 
  • Rock music, R'n'B, Hip-Hop 
  • Music Theatre 
  • Film music 

c) World Music 

  • Music of the Caribbean 
  • Music of Africa 
  • Music of India 

The following pieces are given as examples of music that could be used as starting points for candidates to gain insight into the way composers have used the Areas of Study.

These are not set works but one of these, or an example of your choice, should be used to exemplify the characteristics of the Areas of Study and the relevant elements of The organisation of sound, which apply to each genre within the three Strands of Learning.

A detailed analysis and precise knowledge of dates of composition and specific composers are not required.

 

The Western Classical Tradition

Baroque Orchestral Music 
  • Vivaldi;  'Spring' from "The Four Seasons" 
  • Bach;  Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F BWV 1047 
  • Handel; Water Music
The Concerto 
  • Haydn; Trumpet Concerto in E flat 
  • Tchaikovsky;  Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Op. 35 
  • Shostakovich;  Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Op. 102
Music for Voices
  • Gibbons; 'The Silver Swan'
  • Puccini; 'Nessun Dorma' from "Turandot" 
  • Orff; Carmina Burana
Chamber Music 
  • Haydn; String Quartet in C Op. 76 No. 3 'Emperor' 
  •  Schubert; Piano Quintet Op. 114 D 667 'The Trout' 
  •  Stravinsky; 8 Miniatures for 15 Players
The Sonata 
  • Scarlatti; Piano Sonata in G minor 'Cat's Fugue' 
  • Beethoven; Violin Sonata No.5 in F Op. 24 'Spring'
  • Chopin; Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor Op. 35

Popular Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries

Blues

  • Johnson; 'Come on in my kitchen' Robert Johnson
  • King/Josea; 'You upset me Baby' BB King 
  • Clapton; 'Sunshine of your Love' Cream 

Popular Music of the 1960s

  • Lennon/McCartney; 'She loves You' Beatles  
  • Jagger/Richards; 'I Can't get no Satisfaction' Rolling Stones 
  • Bennett/Welch; 'Summer Holiday' Cliff Richard 

Rock Music, R'n' B, Hip-Hop

  • Page/Plant; 'Stairway to Heaven' Led Zeppelin 
  • West; 'Gold Digger' Kanye West 
  • Ne-Yo; 'Take A Bow' Rihanna

Music Theatre

  • Schwartz; 'Defying Gravity' Wicked
  • Bart; 'I'm reviewing the Situation' Oliver 
  • Lloyd-Webber; 'Any Dream Will Do' Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 

Film Music

  • Williams; "Star Wars" 
  • Marianelli; "Atonement" 
  • Zimmer; "Gladiator"

World Music

Music of the Caribbean

  • World of Music: Caribbean Various Artists
  • The Rough Guide to World Music, Vol 2: Latin & North America/Caribbean/lndia/Africa/Asia/Pacific

Music of Africa 

  • Africa – The Very Best of Africa: Various artists 
  • South Africa – The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa 
  • Africa – The Spirit of Africa: Various Artists 

Music of India 

  • lndia – The Very Best of lndia: Various Artists 
  • lndia – The Rough Guide to the Music of lndia 
  • The Sounds of India: Ravi Shankar

Unit 2 - Composing and Appraising Music

Unit 2: Composing and Appraising Music

20% of the total marks 40 Marks (2 x 20) 

The task

A. Candidates are required to compose one piece of music and must choose two or more of the five Areas of Study (10%). There must be a link to one of the three strands, which will be announced annually by AQA. Candidates have up to 20 hours of Supervised Time in which to complete the composition, under informal supervision. Candidates' work must be monitored during this period by the teacher so that he/she is able to authenticate it as the candidate's own. There is no time limit in terms of the duration of the composition but candidates should be aware of the need to demonstrate sufficient development of musical ideas in the music and, as a consequence, very short pieces may not allow for this. 

B. Candidates appraise the process and the outcome of the composition in relation to the Areas of Study and indicate the link to the strand (10%). Candidates have up to 2 hours of Controlled Time for the appraisal which must be undertaken as an individual exercise under formal supervision. 

The strand will be published annually on the AQA website.

The composition and appraisal are externally assessed and must be submitted to the AQA Examiner as follows:

A (i) A recording of the final completed composition. This must be in a format that can be played on an external device such as CD or mini-disc. The recording may be made using live performers, ICT or a combination of both. 

A (ii) A musical score. In this case, a score is understood to be any written format that is appropriate to the particular genre of music presented. This could include: 

  • staff notation 
  • graphic notation 
  • tab 
  • a written account detailing the structure and content of the music 
  • a combination of some or all of these. 

In all circumstances, the score should accurately reflect the intentions of the candidate and bear close resemblance to the music presented in the recording. 

B. A written appraisal of the process of composition and the final outcome. This will be completed in an appraisal booklet, supplied by AQA. 

The composition submitted for Unit 2 must be different from that submitted for Unit 4.

In preparing candidates for this Unit, it is anticipated that teachers will assist in helping candidates to work to their strengths. In many cases, candidates may wish to utilise their skills and aptitudes in performing and/or their preferences in listening and appraising, in creating and developing the composition. The nature of the task in relation to the selected Areas of Study will encourage this and whilst it is recognised that many compositions will explore most, if not all of the Areas of Study, it must be possible to respond successfully within two areas.

It is important that candidates remember that there must be a link to the strand. This will be as follows: 

  • 2014 – The Western Classical Tradition
  • 2015 – Popular Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries 
  • 2016 – World Music

Task supervision and control

  • Candidates have up to 20 hours supervised time under informal supervision to complete the composition and up to 2 hours controlled time under formal supervision to complete the appraisal.
  • Additional time may be allowed in order to complete the recordings, where necessary. 
  • Candidates must complete the composition, with the exception of research and preparation, under informal supervision. 
  • Research and preparation may be completed under limited supervision. This might include set tasks to be completed at home, in libraries or through internet research.
  • Teachers may help with the research and preparation of the composition but the final presented work must be the work of the candidate. Teachers must make clear on the Candidate Record Form the amount of help and guidance given to candidates. 
  • Candidates may work with others but the final completed composition must be the individual work of the candidate.  In practice, this means that candidates may work with other musicians in producing the recording, but the score will be entirely their own work.  It must be possible within the presentation of the score to be able to understand how the performances of those other than the candidate have taken place.  There should be a strong correlation between the music presented in the recording and the presented score.

Assessment Criteria

This task will be marked by an AQA Examiner. 

A The Composition

The composition will be assessed in the light of the selected Areas of Study and its success measured against the realisation of key elements with consideration of the musical aspects detailed below: 

  • the imaginative use of sound 
  • a sense of musical balance 
  • the creation and development of musical ideas
  • an understanding of the chosen medium 
  • the appropriate and idiomatic use of instruments, voices and other sound sources 
  • appropriate uses of musical elements, devices, techniques and conventions. 

Strengths in one or more aspects may balance relative weaknesses elsewhere. 

Compositions will be marked according to the following six bands of assessment in combination with the musical aspects listed above. 

20–17  

  • The composition is musically stimulating, interesting and satisfying.  
  • The candidate demonstrates the successful and imaginative creation of musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study and strand.  
  • There is a sense of completeness in the music and there is evidence of development of the musical ideas.  
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources is idiomatic.  
  • The score is accurate and contains detailed performance directions appropriate to the chosen style of the music. 

16–13  

  • The composition is imaginative and largely satisfying.  
  • The candidate demonstrates a sound sense of understanding of musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study and strand.  
  • There is a sense of wholeness in the music with some development of the musical ideas.  
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources demonstrates understanding of the techniques required.  
  • The score contains sufficient detail to reflect the candidate's intentions, though some details may be missing. 

12–10  

  • The composition is largely effective.  
  • The candidate demonstrates some understanding of the musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study and strand.  
  • There is a competent handling of the musical ideas.  
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources demonstrates some understanding of the techniques required.  
  • The score shows some accuracy but may contain some omissions and/or inaccuracies.

9–7  

  • The composition is partially effective.  
  • The candidate demonstrates limited understanding of the musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study and strand.  
  • There are some limitations in the handling of the musical ideas.  
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources may present inconsistencies in their deployment.  
  • The score shows some musical ideas clearly.

 6–4  

  • The composition works but at a basic level.  
  • The candidate demonstrates a basic understanding of the musical ideas presented in relation to the Areas of Study and strand.  
  • There may be some incoherence in the handling of musical ideas.  
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources appears simplistic and may lack finish.  
  • The score shows inconsistencies and is not accurately presented. 

3–1  

  • The composition is very rudimentary.
  • The candidate demonstrates a rudimentary understanding of the ideas in relation to the Areas of Study and strand.  
  • Musical ideas lack coherence and may appear incomplete.  
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources lacks understanding.
  • The score is inaccurate and incomplete. 

  • The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Unit 3 - Performing Music

Unit 3: Performing Music

40% of the total marks                                                                     60 marks 

Candidates perform individually or through ICT and as part of a group. 

Each candidate should perform two different pieces: 

a) one for 'Individual Performance'/'Technologybased Performance', lasting no more than five minutes, and 

b) one for 'Group Performance', lasting no more than five minutes. 

In both performances, doubling of the part to be assessed is permissible where this is musically appropriate and is in line with the conventions of the chosen genre and does not obscure the part to be assessed. Doubling is only acceptable if the individual candidate's part can be aurally identified without affecting the balance of the ensemble and if the candidate's part is clearly audible to the teacher and moderator. 

Candidates may perform their own compositions provided that these have not been submitted for assessment in either Unit 2 or Unit 4. 

In both Individual and Group performances, backing tracks are permitted. 

Both performances must be recorded and sent to an AQA moderator. The recordings must be in a format that can be played on an external device such as CD or mini-disc. The recordings may be made at any time during the course. 

Controlled Assessment Advisers will be available to provide guidance to centres. 

a) (i) Individual Performance

Candidates perform a piece of music in which they are assessed as an individual. The music chosen can be: 

  • an unaccompanied solo (where this is the intended nature of the piece) 
  • an accompanied solo  
  • a performance where the candidate has a substantial solo part. 

An individual performance is defined as one person playing/singing/maintaining an independent melodic/ rhythmic part.

N.B. this includes 'rapping' in all of its forms and 'turntablism'. 

a) (ii) Technology-based Performance

This consists of using a sequencer and/or multi-track recorder and then manipulating the inputted data to achieve a satisfactory performance in terms of the assessment criteria. There should be at least three parts and candidates must perform at least one of the parts in real or step time. 

b) Group Performance The group performance must consist of two or more live players including the candidate. Where a candidate performs within a large ensemble, the candidate's part must be clearly identifiable aurally to the teacher and the moderator. Groups may be conducted but not by the teacher assessing the performance. 

Task supervision and control 

The level of control for performing is set at medium. 

This means that research and preparation should be completed under limited supervision, i.e. without direct supervision. Candidates are encouraged to listen to as many similar performances as possible to inform their approach to their own performance. 

Final performance must be completed under formal, i.e. direct, supervision and the teacher must assess the live performance.

Assessment Criteria 

a) (i) Individual Performance (Max 30 marks)

Level of Demand

3 Complex and demanding music, presenting a range of challenges equivalent to pieces graded above 4 by the examining boards: i.e. requiring a higher degree of technical facility than at level 2, presenting challenges in areas such as tempo, key, intricacy of rhythm and complexity of chords or texture. Music at this level requires increased command of the instrument/voice and a variety of performance techniques in a style appropriate to the piece, sustained throughout a performance of reasonable duration. 

2 Music presenting a range of challenges equivalent to pieces graded at 4 by the examining boards: i.e. requiring a moderate degree of technical facility but with increased challenges in terms of the command of the instrument/voice and the range of performance techniques required. There are moderate demands in rhythmic complexity and/or melodic patterns and in the duration of the piece. 

1 Music presenting a range of challenges equivalent to pieces graded at 3 (or 2) by the examining boards: i.e. music of a fairly simple nature, of relatively short duration and in easier keys. Tempo, range and rhythmic/melodic patterns will place only modest demands on the performer.

0 Straightforward and undemanding music, presenting few technical challenges. 

The remaining 27 marks are awarded for 

  • Accuracy 
  • Communication 
  • Interpretation 

Accuracy 

9–7 

A secure performance in terms of pitch (including intonation, where appropriate) and rhythm. Occasional slips not affecting the fluency of the performance result in a mark at the lower end of this band.

6–4 

A reasonably secure performance in terms of pitch (including intonation, where appropriate) and rhythm. Slips and/or inaccuracies tend to compromise the overall flow, increasing in number as marks move lower down this band.

3–1 

A performance inhibited by slips/inaccuracies/ miscalculations of pitch (including intonation, where appropriate) and rhythm. Fluency is poor. At the top of this band, the outline of the music is appreciable to the listener but, at the lower marks, the music may be barely recognisable. 

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Communication 

9–7 

A committed, assured, convincing and well-projected performance. The candidate demonstrates a high level of involvement in the music. The music is likely to be complex and demanding.

6–4 

A performance which, at the top of this band, demonstrates a generally assured level of commitment and an overall sense of conviction in the performance. Towards the lower end, the performance lacks some conviction and commitment on occasions.

3–1 

The performance shows only limited conviction and the candidate may fail to impose him/herself upon the performance. Towards the lower end of this band, the performance may be an anxious experience for both the candidate and the listener. The music is likely to be simple and undemanding.

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Interpretation 

9–7 

The candidate shows a mature understanding of both period and style. The tempo is appropriate and mastery of the techniques demanded by the music is evident. The candidate observes the composer's expressive and performance directions. The music is likely to be complex and demanding.

6 –4 

The performance has style and tempo appropriate to the music for the most part. At the top of this band, the majority of the composer's expressive and performance directions are observed, although less so as marks are reduced. At the lower end of the band, there is a sense of the character of the music. In general, the techniques demanded by the music are met, though with increasing loss of integrity towards the lower end of this mark band.

3 –1 

There is limited sensitivity to the interpretative demands of the music. Technical demands may compromise the tempo. There is little or no application of the composer's expressive and performance directions. At the lower end of this band, there is only rudimentary sensitivity to the interpretative demands of the music. The music is likely to be simple and undemanding.

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

a) (ii) Technology-based Performance (Max 30 marks)

This performance is assessed on: 

  • accuracy of pitch and rhythm including evidence of close attention to performing and expressive detail * care taken to ensure a good balance  
  • use of an appropriate dynamic range 
  • use of panning to obtain a clear recording and, where necessary, to separate sounds that utilise similar frequency ranges 
  • awareness of style required including use of effects where appropriate, such as reverb., delay. 

Candidates are expected to give details of the equipment used and of the recording process. 

Accuracy of pitch and rhythm including evidence of close attention to performing and expressive detail 

6–5 

Excellent accuracy of pitch and rhythm with close attention to all performing and expressive details, resulting in a musically satisfying performance.3 14 GCSE Music for certification from June 2014 onwards (version 1.0)

4–3 

There are a few minor slips which will increase and may impinge upon fluency at the lower mark. Articulation, phrasing and use of shading is largely successful.

2–1 

More significant errors for the upper mark and significant lapses for the lower; there are inconsistencies in the application of performing and expressive detail at the top of this band while, at the bottom, the recording is characterised by a lack of attention to articulation, phrasing and tempo.

0

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Care taken to ensure a good balance

6–5 

An excellent sense of balance throughout the recording.

4–3 

Occasional miscalculations of balance where 4 is awarded, increasing to include some sections of poor balance where 3 is awarded.

 2–1 

Generally poor balance: 2 will be awarded where important features are unclear; 1 where most of the detail is obscured.

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Use of an appropriate dynamic range 

6–5 

Excellent management of dynamics in ways completely appropriate to the music.

4–3 

Occasional miscalculations of dynamic with 3 awarded where there are sections in which the dynamic range is miscalculated and/or very limited.

2–1 

Often inappropriate choice/use of dynamics which adversely affect the impact of large sections of the recorded performance.

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Use of panning to obtain a clear recording and, where necessary, to separate sounds that utilise similar frequency ranges 

6–5 

Judicious use of panning to gain a clear and effective recording.

4–3 

Some evidence of use of panning though, for the lower mark, the panning is less clear and less effective.

2–1 

Little or no evidence of the use of panning to obtain a clear recording.

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Awareness of style required including use of effects where appropriate, such as reverb., delay 

6–5 

Complete awareness of the stylistic requirements of the music with appropriate use of effects throughout the performance.

4–3 

For the upper mark, the required style is broadly in evidence and effects are used generally well, though with occasional miscalculations; at the lower mark, there is inconsistency in achieving the required style and sections where effects are misjudged or lacking.

2–1 

The performance of the music is basic with little or no sense of the required style. There is little or inappropriate use of effects.

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

b) Group Performance (Max 30 marks)

Level of Demand 

3 Music presenting a range of challenges equivalent to pieces graded above 4 by the examining boards: i.e. requiring a higher degree of technical facility than at level 2, presenting challenges in areas such as tempo, key, intricacy of rhythm and complexity of chords or texture. Music at this level requires increased command of the instrument/voice and a variety of performance techniques in a style appropriate to the piece, sustained throughout a performance of reasonable duration. The candidate has a consistently important, but perhaps varying, role within the ensemble. 

2 Music presenting a range of challenges equivalent to pieces graded at 4 by the examining boards: i.e. requiring a moderate degree of technical facility but with increased challenges in terms of the command of the instrument/voice and the range of performance techniques required. There are moderate demands in rhythmic complexity and/or melodic patterns and in the duration of the piece. The candidate's role within the ensemble may be within limited parameters and remain consistent. 

1 Music presenting a range of challenges equivalent to pieces graded at 3 (or 2) by the examining boards: i.e. music of a fairly simple nature, of relatively short duration and in easier keys. Tempo, range and rhythmic/melodic patterns place only modest demands on the performer. The candidate's role within the ensemble presents few challenges. 

0 Straightforward and undemanding work, presenting few challenges. 

The remaining 27 marks are awarded for  

  • Accuracy 
  • Communication and Interpretation 
  • Sense of Ensemble   

Accuracy 

9–7

A secure performance in terms of pitch (including intonation, where appropriate) and rhythm. Occasional slips not affecting the fluency of the performance result in a mark at the lower end of this band.

6–4

A reasonably secure performance in terms of pitch (including intonation, where appropriate) and rhythm. Slips and/or inaccuracies tend to compromise the overall flow, increasing in number as marks move lower down this band.

3–1

A performance inhibited by slips/inaccuracies/ miscalculations of pitch (including intonation, where appropriate) and rhythm. Fluency is poor. At the top of this band, the outline of the music is appreciable to the listener but, at the lower marks, the music may be barely recognisable.

0

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Communication and Interpretation 

9–7

A committed, assured, convincing and well-projected performance. The candidate demonstrates a high level of involvement in the music. The candidate shows a mature understanding of both period and style. The tempo is appropriate and mastery of the techniques demanded by the music is evident. The candidate observes the composer's expressive and performance directions. The music is likely to be complex and demanding.

6–4

A performance which, at the top of this band, demonstrates a generally assured level of commitment and an overall sense of conviction in the performance. The majority of the composer's expressive and performance directions are observed although less so as marks are reduced. Towards the lower end, the performance lacks some conviction and commitment on occasions. There is a sense of the character of the music. In general, the techniques demanded by the music are met, though with increasing loss of integrity towards the lower end of this mark band. The performance has style and tempo appropriate to the music for the most part.

3–1

The performance shows only limited conviction and the candidate may fail to impose him/herself upon the performance. There is limited sensitivity to the interpretative demands of the music. Technical demands may compromise the tempo. At the lower end of this band, there will be only rudimentary sensitivity to the interpretative demands of the music. There is little or no application of the composer's expressive and performance directions and the performance may be an anxious experience for both the candidate and the listener. The music is likely to be simple and undemanding.

0

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Sense of Ensemble 

9–7

A performance showing complete unity of purpose in all aspects of ensemble playing, including balance, timing, intonation and responsiveness to others. If necessary, the candidate shows the ability to react positively to any difficulties which may occur. Marks towards the bottom of this band reflect success in most of these areas.

6–4

There is a generally high level of responsiveness to the other performers, showing a good understanding of the nature of ensemble playing, demonstrated in timing, intonation and dynamics. At the bottom of this band marks reflect an inconsistent level of responsiveness.

3–1

The candidate shows some awareness of the other member(s) of the ensemble but the response will be uneven. At the bottom of this band, there is little or no evidence of responsiveness. Performances at this level include those where the candidate tends to concentrate on his/her own part to the exclusion of other ensemble considerations.

0

The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed.

Unit 4 - Composing Music

Unit 4: Composing Music

20% of the total marks    30 marks

Creating and developing musical ideas with technical control and coherence. 

Controlled Assessment Advisers will be available to provide guidance to centres. 

The task 

Candidates are required to compose one piece of music which explores two or more of the five Areas of Study. This may be in any style or genre of the candidate's choosing. 

Candidates have up to 25 hours of Controlled Assessment in which to complete the composition. This must be undertaken as an individual exercise under informal supervision. There is no time limit in terms of the duration of the composition but candidates should be aware of the need to demonstrate sufficient development of musical ideas in the music and as a consequence, very short pieces may not allow for this.

The composition must be submitted as follows: 

1. A recording of the final completed composition. This must be in a format that can be played on an external device such as CD or mini-disc. The recording may be made using live performers, ICT or a combination of both. 

2. A musical score. In this case, a score is understood to be any written format that is appropriate to the particular genre of music presented. This could include: 

  • staff notation 
  • graphic notation 
  • tab 
  • a written account detailing the structure and content of the music 
  • a combination of some or all of these.

In all circumstances, the score should accurately reflect the intentions of the candidate and bear close resemblance to the music presented in the recording. 

The composition submitted for Unit 4 must be different from that submitted for Unit 2. 

Candidates also complete a Candidate Record Form detailing the nature of their chosen task and the Areas of Study explored in the composition. 

Submissions should be sent to the AQA moderator.

In preparing candidates for this Unit, it is anticipated that teachers will assist in helping candidates to work to their strengths. In many cases, candidates may wish to utilise their skills and aptitudes in performing and/or their preferences in listening and appraising in creating and developing the composition. The nature of the task in relation to the selected Areas of Study will encourage this and whilst it is recognised that many compositions will explore most, if not all of the Areas of Study, it must be possible to respond successfully within two areas. It is recognised that different centres will have widely differing resources and musical experiences for their candidates. The nature of the set task will allow for this diversity and enable centres to work to their strengths. 

Task supervision and control

  • Candidates have up to 25 hours in which to complete the composition. 
  • Additional time may be allowed in order to complete the recordings, where necessary. 
  • Candidates must complete the composition, with the exception of research and preparation, under informal supervision.  
  • Research and preparation may be completed under limited supervision. This might include set tasks to be completed at home, in libraries or through internet research. 
  • Teachers may help with the research and preparation of the composition but the final presented work must be the work of the candidate. Teachers must make clear on the Candidate Record Form the amount of help and guidance given to candidates. 
  • Candidates may work with others but the final completed composition must be the individual work of the candidate. In practice, this means that candidates may work with other musicians in producing the recording, but the score will be entirely their own work. It must be possible within the presentation of the score to be able to understand how the performances of those other than the candidate have taken place. There should be a strong correlation between the music presented in the recording and the presented score. 

Assessment Criteria 

Teachers will mark and assess the final presented composition according to a single set of assessment criteria. This assessment will be subject to moderation by AQA.

The piece will be assessed in the light of the selected Areas of Study and its success measured against the realisation of key elements with consideration of the musical aspects detailed below: 

  • the imaginative use of sound  
  • a sense of musical balance 
  • the creation and development of musical ideas 
  • an understanding of the chosen medium  
  • the appropriate and idiomatic use of instruments, voices and other sound sources 
  • appropriate uses of musical elements, devices, techniques and conventions.

Strengths in one or more aspects may balance relative weaknesses elsewhere. 

Compositions will be marked according to the following six bands of assessment in combination with the musical aspects listed above. 

30–26 

  • The composition is musically stimulating, interesting and satisfying. 
  • The candidate demonstrates the successful and imaginative creation of musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study selected. 
  • There is a sense of completeness in the music and there is evidence of development of the musical ideas. 
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources is idiomatic. 
  • The score is accurate and contains detailed performance directions appropriate to the chosen style of the music. 

25–21

  • The composition is imaginative and largely satisfying. 
  • The candidate demonstrates a sound sense of understanding of musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study selected. 
  • There is a sense of wholeness in the music with some development of the musical ideas presented. 
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources demonstrates understanding of the techniques required. 
  • The score contains sufficient detail to reflect the candidate's intentions, though some details may be missing. 

20–16 

  • The composition is largely effective. 
  • The candidate demonstrates some understanding of the musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study selected. 
  • There is a competent handling of the musical ideas. 
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources demonstrates some understanding of the techniques required. 
  • The score shows some accuracy but may contain some omissions and/or inaccuracies. 

15–11 

  • The composition is partially effective. 
  • The candidate demonstrates limited understanding of the musical ideas in relation to the Areas of Study selected. 
  • There are some limitations in the handling of the musical ideas. 
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources may present inconsistencies in their deployment. 
  • The score shows some musical ideas clearly. 

10–6 

  • The composition works but at a basic level. 
  • The candidate demonstrates a basic understanding of the musical ideas presented in relation to the Areas of Study selected.
  • There may be some incoherence in the handling of musical ideas. 
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources appears simplistic and may lack finish. 
  • The score shows inconsistencies and is not accurately presented. 

5–1 

  • The composition is very rudimentary. 
  • The candidate demonstrates a rudimentary understanding of the ideas in relation to the Areas of Study. 
  • Musical ideas lack coherence and may appear incomplete. 
  • Writing for instruments, voices and sound sources lacks understanding. 
  • The score is inaccurate and incomplete.

 0 

  • The candidate's work shows no evidence of the skills being assessed