Scheme of assessment

Find past papers and mark schemes, and specimen papers for new courses, on our website at aqa.org.uk/pastpapers

This specification is designed to be taken over two years.

This is a linear qualification. In order to achieve the award, students must complete all assessments at the end of the course and in the same series.

GCSE exams and certification for this specification are available for the first time in May/June 2018 and then every May/June for the life of the specification.

All materials are available in English only.

Our GCSE exams in Music include questions that allow students to demonstrate their ability to:

  • draw together their knowledge, skills and understanding from across the full course of study
  • provide original practical responses
  • provide short and extended written responses.

Synoptic assessment of GCSE Music should require students to:

  • develop a broad understanding of the connections between the knowledge, understanding and skills set out in the specification as a whole
  • demonstrate their understanding of the relationships between theory and practice.

Aims and learning outcomes

Courses based on this specification should encourage students to:

  • engage actively in the process of music study
  • develop performing skills individually and in groups to communicate musically with fluency and control of the resources used
  • develop composing skills to organise musical ideas and make use of appropriate resources
  • recognise links between the integrated activities of performing, composing and appraising and how these inform the development of music
  • broaden musical experience and interests, develop imagination and foster creativity
  • develop knowledge, understanding and skills needed to communicate effectively as musicians
  • develop awareness of a variety of instruments, styles and approaches to performing and composing
  • develop awareness of music technologies and their use in the creation and presentation of music
  • recognise contrasting genres, styles and traditions of music, and develop some awareness of musical chronology
  • develop as effective and independent learners with enquiring minds
  • reflect upon and evaluate their own and others’ music
  • engage with and appreciate the diverse heritage of music, in order to promote personal, social, intellectual and cultural development.

Assessment components

Component 1: Understanding music (Assessment objectives AO3 and AO4)

Understanding music is assessed through an externally marked exam in two sections lasting one hour and thirty minutes. It is marked out of a total of 96 marks and constitutes 40% of the total marks for the qualification.

Section A: Listening (Assessment objectives AO3 and AO4)

Students will be assessed on their ability to evaluate the music heard in the exam and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of musical elements and musical language (see Subject content).

Section A will consist of eight sets of linked questions covering all areas of study. Students must answer all questions in this section.

Each question will contain excerpts of music from unfamiliar music representing the styles/genres listed for each area of study.

Students will be played the excerpts a stated number of times (between two and four) depending on the length and tempo of the excerpt and the nature of the question.

Section B: Contextual understanding (Assessment objective AO4)

Students will be assessed on their ability to analyse and evaluate music in written form, using knowledge and understanding of musical elements and musical contexts to make critical judgements about repertoire (study pieces) within the chosen areas of study.

This section will consist of four sets of linked questions (short and extended) one for each Area of study 1–4. Students must answer two linked sets of questions, one of which must be Area of study 1: Western classical tradition 1650–1910.

Component 2: Performing music (Assessment objective AO1)

Performance is internally marked by teachers and externally moderated by AQA, marked out of 72 and constitutes 30% of the total marks for the qualification.

Each student must select, following a discussion with their teacher, the pieces that the student will perform during the assessment. Each student must perform two pieces lasting a combined minimum time of four minutes. One performance must be as a solo and one performance as part of an ensemble. Each student must perform for at least one minute as part of an ensemble.

If the student’s performance is less than four minutes it will not be accepted as assessment evidence. Teachers must check the final performance for assessment of each student’s work, to ensure it meets the minimum duration requirement.

There is no maximum duration for performances.

Performance must be through one or a combination of the following methods:

  • playing music
  • singing music
  • realising music using music technology.

Administrative and assessment requirements for solo and ensemble performance

You are responsible for ensuring the following requirements are met in administering and assessing the solo and ensemble performances:

  • performances should take place in a suitable venue in a live setting
  • performances should be recorded using good quality audio equipment
  • performances must be under the supervision of a teacher for authentication purposes
  • audio recordings of performances and production must be submitted complete and without post-performance editing or augmentation
  • performances must take place in the year of certification
  • performances must meet the specified minimum duration
  • a copy of either the score/s, lead sheet/s, annotation/s or guide recordings must be submitted with the performance for assessment.

Assessment evidence

Audio recordings and performance documentation must be submitted as evidence as well as a signed Candidate record form (CRF).

Assessment evidence for this component will be marked using the Component 2: Performing music assessment grids for performance/production.

Audio recording of performance

Performances should be saved digitally and must be produced in accordance with the Guidance for audio recording assessment on the AQA website.

Instrumental/vocal audio recordings of performances must be submitted complete and without post-performance editing.

Performances produced via technology must be submitted complete and in their final state as completed by the student without any further editing or augmentation.

Each student's recording of the performance for assessment must be kept under secure conditions until sent to AQA for assessment by the specified date given at aqa.org.uk/keydates

Performance documentation

The performance documentation is referred to when marking the audio recording of the performance, using Component 2 assessment grids. Students must submit one or a combination of the following, as appropriate, for each of the pieces performed for assessment.

Evidence type Requirement

Notated score

Providing full performance information through musical notation.

Lead sheet

Providing a detailed framework giving structure and musical substance from which a performance can be produced that meets the composer's intentions.

Guide recording

(if no score or lead sheet available)

If students have based their own performance on a recording of another performance of the same piece, this must be submitted digitally so that the file can be easily accessed by the examiner.

Annotation Including details of the processes, devices and techniques used that contributed to the final performance. Students must provide details of any hardware and software used.

Component 3: Composing music (Assessment objective AO2)

Each student must compose two pieces. One composition must be in response to an externally set brief and the other composition must be freely composed by the student.

Both compositions must be assessed on the student’s ability to demonstrate:
  • Creative and effective selection and use of musical elements
  • Appropriate selection and use of musical elements (to the compositional intention)
  • Technical and expressive control in the use of musical elements.
Each composition must demonstrate selection and use of at least four types of musical element as follows:
  • at least two of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure, form
  • at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing, articulation.

Composition 1 – Composition to a brief

The composition must include at least four types of musical element (as above) and be in response to one brief from a choice of four externally set briefs. The briefs will be released on or as near as possible to 15 September of the year of certification. Students must be given the externally set briefs in their entirety; they must not be edited, changed or abridged in any way.

Each brief will refer to a specific context (ie audience/occasion) and may include different stimuli, such as:
  • a poem or a piece of text
  • photographs, images or film
  • notation.

Composition 2 – Free composition

Free compositions need not reference areas of study or a given brief but students should refer to the suggested audience/occasion, and include a minimum of four types of musical element (as above).

Compositions 1 and 2

Together, the compositions must last a combined minimum time of three minutes.

If the student’s combined compositions are less than three minutes, they will not be accepted as assessment evidence.

Marks are not awarded specifically for the duration of the composition. There is no specified maximum duration for composition.

For each student, you are responsible for ensuring the following requirements are met in administering the final compositions for assessment:

  • the final compositions for assessment of each student’s work meet the minimum duration requirement
  • the audio recordings of the final compositions are recorded from start to finish
  • each student must be wholly responsible for the creation of their complete compositions and this must be their own unaided work
  • the student is not required to perform the composition but may do so if they wish.

Please refer to Component 3: Composing music assessment grid for information on how the component will be marked.

Supervising students

Students must have sufficient direct supervision to ensure that the work submitted can be confidently authenticated as their own.

You may provide guidance and support to students so that they are clear about the requirements of the tasks they need to undertake and the marking criteria on which the work will be assessed.

You should encourage students to reflect upon and evaluate their own music, including considering the success of meeting the brief/intent, during their composition process.

You are expected to follow the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) instructions regarding the provision of feedback to students.

See also Non-exam assessment administration

Assessment evidence

Audio recordings and composition documentation must be submitted as evidence for both compositions as well as a signed Candidate record form (CRF).

The audio recordings are marked alongside the composition documentation, to derive the overall mark for the component, using Component 3: Composing music assessment grid .

Audio recording of compositions

The student is not required to play on the recording but may do so if they wish.

The audio recordings of the final compositions for assessment must be:

  • recorded from start to finish
  • saved digitally
  • kept under secure conditions until sent to AQA for assessment by the specified date given at aqa.org.uk/keydates
  • submitted complete and in their final state as completed by the student without any further editing or augmentation.
Composition documentation
Programme note
For both compositions, students must provide a Programme note of approximately 150 words that identifies:
  • the compositional intention, including the intended audience/occasion
  • the types of musical element selected
  • details of the software and hardware used in the compositional process.

For both compositions, students must also provide one or more of the following which details the composition’s structure and how musical elements have been used.

Evidence type Requirement

Notated score

Providing full performance information through musical notation, detailing, for example, dynamics, tempo, and techniques where appropriate.

Lead sheet

Providing a detailed framework, giving structure and musical substance from which a performance can be produced that meets the composer's intentions, eg a melody line with chord symbols and lyrics.
Aural guide A written account providing a detailed guide through the aural experience of the piece that will highlight structure and musical elements, including the ways in which they have been explored.

Please note: if composition documentation is not submitted for assessment with the audio recording, the audio recording of the final composition will still be accepted as assessment evidence. However, this will compromise how clearly the evidence supports the mark awarded by the centre, meaning centre marks are more likely to be adjusted at moderation.

Assessment objectives

Assessment objectives (AOs) are set by Ofqual and are the same across all GCSE Music specifications and all exam boards.

The assessments will measure how students have achieved the following assessment objectives.

Assessment objectives Weighting
AO1 Perform with technical control, expression and interpretation. 30%
AO2 Compose and develop musical ideas with technical control and coherence. 30%
AO3 Demonstrate and apply musical knowledge. 20%
AO4 Use appraising skills to make evaluative and critical judgements about music. 20%
Assessment objectives Component 1 Understanding music Component 2 Performing music Component 3 Composing music Overall weighting
AO1   30%   30%
AO2     30% 30%
AO3 20%     20%
AO4 20%     20%
Overall weighting of components 40% 30% 30% 100%

Assessment weightings

The marks awarded on the papers will be scaled to meet the weighting of the components. Students’ final marks will be calculated by adding together the scaled marks for each component. Grade boundaries will be set using this total scaled mark. The scaling and total scaled marks are shown in the table below.

Component Maximum raw mark Scaling factor Maximum scaled mark
Understanding music 96 1 96
Performing music 72 1 72
Composing music 72 1 72
Total scaled mark     240

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria below must be applied to the assessment of students’ work for the performing music and composing music components.

You should refer to standardisation materials available at aqa.org.uk/music for information regarding assessment grids.

Marking to the correct standard

Online exemplification materials are provided on e-AQA with written commentaries which explain how the marks have been awarded.

To ensure you use the assessment criteria grid to mark to the correct standard:
  • access the online exemplification materials provided before you mark your own students' work
  • ensure a senior music representative from your school, with responsibility for conducting internal standardisation, completes online standardisation.

Level of response marking instructions

Level of response mark schemes are broken down into mark bands, each of which has a descriptor. The descriptor indicates the quality that will be expected in the student’s evidence for that mark band.

Identifying the correct mark band

The work must be assessed against each criterion separately. Start at the lowest mark band and see whether the evidence meets the descriptor for that mark band. If it meets the lowest mark band then go to the next one and decide if it meets this mark band, and so on, until you have a match between the mark band descriptor and the student's evidence.

For assessment grids with more than one mark per band

Instrumental (including DJ)/vocal assessment grids and Compositions 1 and 2 assessment grids have three marks within each mark band. Once you have identified the correct mark band (as above), you need to decide which mark to allocate within the band. The lower mark indicates that the student has just met the requirement described in that particular band level descriptor. The next mark indicates that evidence is clear. The higher mark indicates that evidence is convincing but that the student has not quite met the requirements set out in the next band.

Determine an overall mark

The marks for each criteria need to be added up, following the instructions below, to determine the final overall mark for each component.

Component 2: Performing music assessment grids

The performance component is marked out of a total of 72 marks. Each of the performances is out of a maximum of 36.

You are required to provide a mark for each of the assessment grids separately in accordance with the assessment criteria and a total mark out of 72 must be provided for the component. The assessment grid must be used to identify the student's level of performance in relation to each of the areas.

The marks are made up from the following assessment grids.

Instrumental (including DJ)/vocal

Mark (total of 36 per performance) Assessment criteria
6 Levels of demand
15 Technical control (accuracy)
15 Expression and interpretation
Production via technology
Mark (total of 36 per performance) Assessment criteria
6 Levels of demand
5 Accuracy
5 Expression
5 Balance
5 Panning/stereo separation
5 Appropriate use of effects
5 Sense of style

The assessment grids refer to the individual part performed by the student either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble.

Levels of demand

The following assessment grid shows the marks which should be awarded for different levels of demand for all performance types:
  • instrumental/vocal grades refer to nationally recognised accredited music grades
  • for non-standard instruments the levels of demand for instrumental/vocal must be used

Teachers must refer to online exemplification materials which show how marks are awarded for each level of demand across all performance types. Please refer to e-AQA

Both the common level descriptor and additional descriptors, as appropriate to the type of performance, should be used to locate the correct mark.

Levels of demand assessment grid
Total 6 marks Instrumental/vocal DJ Production via technology
6 The music will be complex and technically demanding; the performance will demonstrate a high level of command of the chosen resources.

The equivalent                  to                  instrumental/vocal grade five or above.

  • two basic skills
  • two intermediate skills
  • one advanced skill
  • two additional sound sources.

There will be                  highly                  effective use of variety of texture and dynamics plus                greater complexity of rhythm within two or more tracks.

Includes at least two of the following:

  • vocal
  • instrumental
  • synthesised/midi.
5

The music will make a substantial range of technical demands; the performance will demonstrate command of the chosen resources.

The equivalent                  to                  instrumental/vocal grade four.

  • two basic skills
  • two intermediate skills
  • one advanced skill
  • one additional sound source.

There will be                  effective                  use of variety of texture and dynamics plus greater                  complexity of rhythm within one or more tracks.

Includes at least two of the following:

  • vocal
  • instrumental
  • synthesised/midi.
4

The music will make a moderate range of technical demands; the performance will demonstrate clear competence in the control of the chosen resources.

The equivalent                  to                  instrumental/vocal grade three.

  • two basic skills
  • one intermediate skill
  • one advanced skill
  • one additional sound source.

There will be                  moderately                  effective use of variety of texture and dynamics plus some                rhythmic variety within the tracks.

Includes at least two of the following:

  • vocal
  • instrumental
  • synthesised/midi.
3

The music will make a narrower range of technical demands while the performance                will still demonstrate a degree of command of the chosen resources.

The equivalent                  to                 instrumental/vocal grade two.

  • two basic skills
  • one intermediate skill
  • one additional sound source.

There will                  be at least two changes in texture and dynamics plus                some rhythmic variety within the tracks.

Includes at least two of the following:

  • vocal
  • instrumental
  • synthesised/midi.
2

The music will make some demands within a more limited range of technical expertise                and command of the chosen resources.

The equivalent                  to                  instrumental/vocal grade one.

  • two basic skills
  • one additional sound source.

There will                be                  straightforward                rhythms and at least one noticeable change of texture and              dynamic.

Includes at least                  one of the                following:
  • vocal
  • instrumental
  • synthesised/midi.
1

The music will make few demands and be technically straightforward in its use of                the chosen resources.

Below                    instrumental/vocal grade one.

One basic skill or one additional sound source.

There will be similar timbres across the tracks, straightforward rhythms with no                  clear variety of texture and/or dynamics

Includes at least one of the following:

  • vocal
  • instrumental
  • synthesised/midi.
0 No work submitted or worthy of credit.

Instrumental (including DJ)/vocal assessment grid

Marks Technical control (accuracy) Expression and interpretation
Instrumental/vocal DJ Instrumental/vocal DJ
15 Convincing

Exceptional ability to demonstrate technical control, with excellent accuracy (pitch, rhythm, intonation) and fluency.

At the top of the band, there will be no discernible flaws, with just minor inaccuracies towards the lower end.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate technical control, with excellent accuracy (pitch, rhythm, tempo) and fluency.

At the top of the band, there will be no discernible flaws, with just minor inaccuracies towards the lower end.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with an excellent and assured sense of style and attention to detail.

Lack of attention to small expressive details will result in a mark towards the lower end of this band.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with an excellent sense of style and attention to detail.

Arrangement of selected tracks demonstrates excellent sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music.

Lack of attention to small expressive details will result in a mark towards the lower end of this band.

14 Clear
13 Just
12 Convincing

Highly developed ability to demonstrate technical control, with high levels of accuracy (pitch, rhythm, intonation) and fluency.

Towards the lower end of the band inaccuracies will become more noticeable.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate technical control, with high levels of accuracy (pitch, rhythm, tempo) and fluency.

Towards the lower end of the band, inaccuracies will become more noticeable.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a highly developed, secure sense of style and attention to detail.

A more frequent lack of sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music will result in a mark at the lower end of this band.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a highly developed sense of style and attention to detail.

Arrangement of selected tracks demonstrates highly developed sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music.

A more frequent lack of sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music will result in a mark at the lower end of this band.

11 Clear
10 Just
9 Convincing

Secure ability to demonstrate technical control, with moderate accuracy (pitch, rhythm, intonation) and fluency.

Regular inaccuracies in more than one area will result in marks towards the lower end of this band.

Secure ability to demonstrate technical control, with moderate accuracy (pitch, rhythm, tempo) and fluency.

Regular inaccuracies in more than one area will result in marks towards the lower end of this band.

Secure ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a moderately secure sense of style and attention to detail.

At the lower end of this mark band, a moderate lack of sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music will inhibit how well the character of the music is conveyed.

Secure ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a moderately secure sense of style and attention to detail.

Arrangement of selected tracks demonstrates moderate sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music.

At the lower end of this mark band, a lack of sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music will inhibit how well the character of the music is conveyed.

8 Clear
7 Just
6 Convincing

Moderate ability to demonstrate technical control, with limited accuracy (pitch, rhythm, intonation) and fluency.

At the bottom of this band, the basic outline of the music will still be appreciable to the listener.

Moderate ability to demonstrate technical control, with limited accuracy (pitch, rhythm, tempo) and fluency.

At the bottom of this band, the basic outline of the music will still be appreciable to the listener.

Moderate ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a basic sense of style and attention to detail.

Limited sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music, becoming more pronounced towards the lower end of the mark band, resulting in a performance which has a limited sense of character.

Moderate ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a basic sense of style and attention to detail.

Arrangement of selected tracks demonstrates limited sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music, becoming more pronounced towards the lower end of the mark band, resulting in a performance which has a limited sense of character.

5 Clear
4 Just
3 Convincing

Limited ability to demonstrate technical control, with minimal accuracy (pitch, rhythm, intonation) and fluency.

At the bottom of this band, the basic outline of the music will be barely appreciable to the listener.

Limited ability to demonstrate technical control, with minimal accuracy of pitch, rhythm, tempo and fluency.

At the bottom of this band, the basic outline of the music will be barely appreciable to the listener.

Limited ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a rudimentary sense of style and minimal attention to detail.

Minimal sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music, becoming more pronounced towards the lower end of the mark band, resulting in a performance which has virtually no sense of character.

Limited ability to demonstrate expression and interpretation, with a rudimentary sense of style and attention to detail.

Arrangement of selected tracks demonstrates minimal sensitivity towards the expressive and interpretative demands of the music, becoming more pronounced towards the lower end of the mark band, resulting in a performance which has virtually no sense of character.

2 Clear
1 Just
0 No work submitted or worthy of credit.

Production via technology assessment grid

Marks Accuracy Expression Balance Panning/stereo separation Use of effects Sense of style
5 Exceptional ability to demonstrate accuracy of pitch, rhythm and intonation.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate expressive detail, with appropriate dynamic range and articulation.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate a sense of balance throughout the recording.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate use of panning appropriately.

Use of panning results in separation of all parts which is totally effective.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate discerning use of effects appropriately, throughout the piece.

Exceptional ability to demonstrate sense of style.

Awareness of stylistic requirements is sustained throughout the piece.

4 Highly developed ability to demonstrate accuracy in pitch, rhythm and intonation.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate expressive detail, with appropriate dynamic range and articulation.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate a sense of balance.

Occasional misjudgment of balance resulting in a slight loss of clarity at times.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate use of panning appropriately.

Occasional misjudgment in use of panning still results in clear separation of parts.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate use of effects appropriately, throughout the piece.

Occasional misjudgment in the use of effects.

Highly developed ability to demonstrate sense of style.

Occasional lapses in awareness of stylistic requirements of the piece.

3 Secure ability to demonstrate accuracy (pitch, rhythm and intonation) and fluency.

Secure ability to demonstrate expressive detail, with appropriate dynamic range and articulation.

Tonal qualities such as vibrato and clear diction in a vocal recording will be lacking at times.

Secure ability to demonstrate a sense of balance.

Misjudgments of balance mean features of the music are unclear.

Secure ability to demonstrate use of panning appropriately.

Misjudgment in use of panning results in not all parts being clearly separated.

Secure ability to demonstrate use of effects appropriately.

Misjudgment in use of effects detracts from the overall performance.

Secure ability to demonstrate sense of style.

Awareness of stylistic requirements of the piece is inconsistent and detracts from the overall performance.

2 Moderate ability to demonstrate accuracy (pitch, rhythm and intonation) and fluency.

Moderate ability to demonstrate expressive detail, with appropriate dynamic range and articulation.

Inconsistencies in expressive detail significantly detract from the overall performance.

Moderate ability to demonstrate a sense of balance.

Misjudgments of balance lead to a significant number of important features being unclear.

Moderate ability to demonstrate use of panning appropriately.

Misjudgments in panning result in unclear separation of parts.

Moderate ability to demonstrate use of effects appropriately.

Misjudgment in use of effects significantly detracts from the overall performance.

Moderate ability to demonstrate sense of style.

Limited awareness of the stylistic requirements of the piece significantly detracts from the overall performance.

1 Limited ability to demonstrate accuracy (pitch, rhythm and intonation) and fluency. Limited ability to demonstrate expressive detail resulting in a performance lacking in musicality.

Limited ability to demonstrate a sense of balance.

Minimal evidence of balance results in a performance in which most of the detail is unclear.

Limited ability to demonstrate use of panning appropriately.

Minimal evidence of use of panning results in no clear separation of parts.

Limited ability to demonstrate use of effects appropriately.

Minimal evidence of use of effects or effects used are inappropriate.

Limited ability to demonstrate sense of style.

Little or no awareness of the stylistic requirements of the piece.

0 No work submitted or worthy of credit.

Component 3: Composing music assessment grid

Each assessment criteria must be marked separately to derive a mark (out of 18) using the composition assessment grid. These marks must then be added together to derive the overall mark for each composition (out of 36). The overall mark for each composition must then be added together to derive a total mark for the component (out of 72).

Each criteria focuses on selection and use of six types of musical element:
Mark (total of 36 per composition) Assessment criteria
18 rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure, form
18 harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing, articulation
Both compositions must be assessed on the student’s ability to demonstrate:
  • Creative and effective selection and use of elements
  • Appropriate selection and use of musical elements (to the compositional intention)
  • Technical and expressive control in the use of musical elements.
Each composition must demonstrate selection and use of at least two types of musical element from the choice of six for each criteria.

Indicative Examples

To guide marking, indicative examples of musical elements which students may typically select and use at the level of ability described in the mark band, are provided for each element type in each mark band.

Some elements are typically only selected and used at higher levels and others only at lower levels of ability. As such the indicative examples provided are the same for the top three mark bands (10–18 marks), whilst progressively fewer examples are provided in the bottom three mark bands (1–9 marks).

The lists of indicative examples are not a ‘required range’ for the mark band, ie depending on the student’s compositional intent, a narrower range of elements and/or other elements (that have not been suggested) may have been selected and used.

Compositions 1 and 2 assessment grid

Marks Selection and use of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure, form Selection and use of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing, articulation
Descriptor Indicative examples Descriptor Indicative examples
18 Convincing

Selection and use of elements (at least two of rhythm, metre, texture melody, structure and form) is exceptionally creative and effective, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of composition.

The selection and use of elements is exceptionally perceptive and insightful: entirely appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds finished with excellent technical and expressive control throughout.

Rhythm, metre: eg change of metre/compound time/augmentation/diminution/cross rhythm/syncopation/dotted rhythms/triplets/rubato/tempo change.

Texture, melody: eg homophonic texture/polyphonic texture/scalic, triadic conjunct and disjunct movement/ornamentation/ostinato or riff/improvisation/imitation/canon/antiphonal texture/blue notes/passing notes.

Structure, form: eg rondo/arch shape/theme and variations/minuet and trio/strophic/through composed/sonata/ground bass/popular song form/blues.

Selection and use of elements (at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing and articulation) is exceptionally creative and effective, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of composition.

The selection and use of elements is exceptionally perceptive and insightful: entirely appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds finished with excellent technical and expressive control throughout.

Harmony, tonality: eg perfect, plagal, imperfect and interrupted cadences/major and minor tonality/modal tonality/diatonic harmony/inverted chords/modulation/7th chords/dissonance/pedal or drone/chromatic harmony.

Timbre, dynamics: eg single instruments and/or voices/instrumental groupings and/or vocal groupings/synthesised sounds/computer-generated sounds/crescendo and diminuendo/reverb/tremolo/distortion/vibrato/falsetto.

Phrasing, articulation: eg legato/staccato/tenuto/marcato/accent/slurring/arco/pizzicato/tonguing.

17 Clear
16 Just
15 Convincing

Selection and use of elements (at least two of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure and form) is highly creative and effective, demonstrating a coherent understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements is highly perceptive and insightful: clearly appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition requires very little more to sound finished, with consistent technical and expressive control throughout.

Rhythm, metre: eg change of metre/compound time/augmentation/diminution/cross rhythm/syncopation/dotted rhythms/triplets/rubato/tempo change.

Texture, melody: eg homophonic texture/polyphonic texture/scalic, triadic conjunct and disjunct movement/ornamentation/ostinato or riff/improvisation/imitation/canon/antiphonal texture/blue notes/passing notes.

Structure, form: eg rondo/arch shape/theme and variations/minuet and trio/strophic/through composed/sonata/ground bass/popular song form/blues.

Selection and use of elements (at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing and articulation) is highly creative and effective, demonstrating a coherent understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements is highly perceptive and insightful: clearly appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition requires very little more to sound finished, with consistent technical and expressive control throughout.

Harmony, tonality: eg perfect, plagal, imperfect and interrupted cadences/major and minor tonality/modal tonality/diatonic harmony/inverted chords/modulation/7th chords/dissonance/pedal or drone/chromatic harmony.

Timbre, dynamics: eg single instruments and/or voices/instrumental groupings and/or vocal groupings/synthesised sounds/computer-generated sounds/crescendo and diminuendo/reverb/tremolo/distortion/vibrato/falsetto.

Phrasing, articulation: eg legato/staccato/tenuto/marcato/accent/slurring/arco/pizzicato/tonguing.

14 Clear
13 Just
12 Convincing

Selection and use of elements (at least two of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure and form) shows secure creativity and effectiveness, demonstrating a sound understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements shows secure perception and insight: almost always appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds mostly finished, but with some further work required: technical and expressive control is not always consistent.

Rhythm, metre: eg change of metre/compound time/augmentation/diminution/cross rhythm/syncopation/dotted rhythms/triplets/rubato/tempo change.

Texture, melody: eg homophonic texture/polyphonic texture/scalic, triadic conjunct and disjunct movement/ornamentation/ostinato or riff/improvisation/imitation/canon/antiphonal texture/blue notes/passing notes.

Structure, form: eg rondo/arch shape/theme and variations/minuet and trio/strophic/through composed/sonata/ground bass/popular song form/blues.

Selection and use of elements (at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing and articulation) shows secure creativity and effectiveness, demonstrating a sound understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements shows secure perception and insight: almost always appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds mostly finished, but with some further work required: technical and expressive control is not always consistent.

Harmony, tonality: eg perfect, plagal, imperfect and interrupted cadences/major and minor tonality/modal tonality/diatonic harmony/inverted chords/modulation/7th chords/dissonance/pedal or drone/chromatic harmony.

Timbre, dynamics: eg single instruments and/or voices/instrumental groupings and/or vocal groupings/synthesised sounds/computer-generated sounds/crescendo and diminuendo/reverb/tremolo/distortion/vibrato/falsetto.

Phrasing, articulation: eg legato/staccato/tenuto/marcato/accent/slurring/arco/pizzicato/tonguing.

11 Clear
10 Just
9 Convincing

Selection and use of elements (at least two of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure and form) is moderately creative and effective, demonstrating a moderate understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements is moderately perceptive and insightful: largely appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds mostly finished, but with some further work required: occasionally lacks coherence, technical and expressive control is limited and not always consistent.

Rhythm, metre: eg simple or compound time/a regular tempo/semibreves, minims, crotchets, quavers and semiquavers.

Texture, melody: eg single line melody/unison and octaves/homophonic texture/ostinato/riff.

Structure, form: eg binary/ternary/strophic/through composed/ground bass/popular song form/twelve bar blues.

Selection and use of elements (at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing and articulation) is moderately creative and effective, demonstrating a moderate understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements is moderately perceptive and insightful: largely appropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds mostly finished, but with some further work required: occasionally lacks coherence, technical and expressive control is limited and not always consistent.

Harmony, tonality: eg major and minor chords, perfect and imperfect cadence, major tonality/pedal.

Timbre, dynamics: eg single instrumental, vocal or synthesised/computer-generated sounds/group instrumental, vocal or synthesised/computer-generated sounds/changes in dynamic.

Phrasing, articulation: eg legato/staccato/accent/slurring/arco/pizzicato/tonguing.

8 Clear
7 Just
6 Convincing

Selection and use of elements (at least two of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure and form) shows limited creativity and effectiveness, demonstrating a basic understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements shows limited perception and insight: sometimes inappropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds unfinished: often lacking coherence, basic and infrequent technical and expressive control.

Rhythm, metre: eg simple time/a regular tempo/semibreves, minims, crotchets and quavers.

Texture, melody: eg single line melody/unison and octaves/homophonic texture/riff.

Structure, form: eg binary/ternary/strophic/ground bass/popular song form/twelve bar blues.

Selection and use of elements (at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing and articulation) shows limited creativity and effectiveness, demonstrating a basic understanding of composition.

The selection and use of these elements shows limited perception and insight: sometimes inappropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

The composition sounds unfinished: often lacking coherence, basic and infrequent technical and expressive control.

Harmony, tonality: eg major and minor chords, perfect and imperfect cadence, major tonality/pedal.

Timbre, dynamics: eg single and/or group instrumental, vocal or synthesised/computer-generated sounds/balance in dynamic.

Phrasing, articulation: eg legato/staccato/slurring.

5 Clear
4 Just
3 Convincing

Selection and use of elements (at least two of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure and form) shows minimal creativity and effectiveness, demonstrating a very simplistic understanding of composition.

The selection and use of elements shows minimal perception and insight: largely inappropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

Although there are creditworthy elements, the composition sounds incomplete: incoherent, very little evidence of technical and expressive control.

Rhythm, metre: eg simple time/regular tempo.

Texture, melody: eg single line melody/riff/unison and octaves.

Structure, form: eg binary/ternary.

Selection and use of elements (at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing and articulation) shows minimal creativity and effectiveness, demonstrating a very simplistic understanding of composition.

The selection and use of elements shows minimal perception and insight: largely inappropriate to the intentions for the music, including the suggested audience/occasion.

Although there are creditworthy elements, the composition sounds incomplete: incoherent, very little evidence of technical and expressive control.

Harmony, tonality: eg major and minor chords, major tonality.

Timbre, dynamics: eg single or group instrumental, vocal or synthesised/computer-generated sounds/awareness of dynamic.

Phrasing, articulation: eg legato/staccato.

2 Clear
1 Just
0 No work submitted or worthy of credit.