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


  • 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