Edexcel Specification 2009

Edexcel Specification 2009
AoS 1: Structure in Western Classical Music
(1600 – 1899)
AoS 2: Changing Directions in Western
Classical Music from 1900
AoS 3: Popular Music in Context
AoS 4: Indian Raga, African Music and
Structure in Western Classical Music (1600 – 1899)
Structure or form is the overall shape of a
piece of music.
Composers usually plan the structure of a
song before they get into the detail.
Most musical plans use repetition and
You will need to be able to spot the plan quickly
when in the Listening Exam...
 Which bits are repeated?
 Is there a main idea repeated?
 Are there contrasting ideas?
 How do they differ from each other?
 Is there an introduction and coda?
 Does the music follow a plan that you can
already recognise?
PITCH: The location of a tone in relation to others.
DURATION: The length of time that a note is sounded.
TIMBRE: The quality of a sound; the instruments playing
TEXTURE: How many parts or voices there are.
DYNAMICS: The loudness or softness of a composition.
TEMPO: The speed (of the rhythm) of a piece of music.
STRUCTURE: The form of a particular piece.
Contrast can be created by:
 Changing keys
 Changing articulation
 Using different dynamics
 Altering the tempo
 Differing the texture
e.g. Going from a lush
rich orchestra to an
instrument playing
Ternary form is like a burger.
It has 3 sections:
 A  B  A.
The first idea
A contrasting idea
A variation of the first
idea – i.e. with added
Rondo form can have any number of
Here is a typical structure of a rondo:
The main
A contrasting
The main
A variation of
the main
Theme and Variation form varies the melody.
Melody is usually a simple, memorable tune.
There can be any number of variations.
Each variation should be a recognisable
version of the main theme, although it will be
distinctly different:
Main Theme
Variation 1
Variation 2
Variation 3
Variation 4
A Ground Bass is an ostinato.
It is usually 4 or 8 bars long.
Ground Bass variation becomes
more complex as it goes on:
 More ornamentation is used
 Harmonies become more advanced
 More instruments join in
Expect to hear ground bass in 17th and 18th
century music, when it was most popular.
Changing Directions in Western Classical Music from 1900
Romantic composers began to move away
from tonality in 1900.
Chromatic notes were being used all over the
place, so much so that music started to lose
the character of the main key of the melody.
Composers felt restricted by traditional tonal
music, and so began to experiment.
Atonality began to occur, where music did
not have a definitive key.
Arnold Schoenberg replaced
tonality with serialism.
By combining his new ideas
with the initiative of using all
the notes chromatically, he
developed the 12-note tone
Minimalism is music which changes by only a
very small amount.
It is easy to tell what is going on.
There is no real tune.
Harmonies are made by layering patterns on
top of each other, and they take a long time
to change.
Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley
Musical features typical of minimalism:
 Ostinati
 Cyclic
 Phase shifting
 Polyrhythm
 Addition
 Augmentation
 Subtraction
 Diminution
 Transformation
 Gradual changes
 Layering
 Hypnotic
 Looping
 Fading instruments in
 Drone
and out
Popular Music in Context
In the 1970s dance music moved into new
venues called discotheques, with faster,
more bassy, electric music.
By the 1980s the music had become faster,
harder and more electronic.
In the 1990s, clubbing took over; DJs mixed
their own music, and dance rhythms
dominated popular music.
HOUSE: 4-4 beat (like all dance music). Lots of repetition, especially in the bass part,
and lots of drum machine sounds.
TECHNO: Fast, hard beat (between 130 – 150 bpm), though can be much faster in
hardcore techno. Rarely any voices or live sounds – usually mechanical or electronic.
JUNGLE (Drum ‘n’ Bass): Mega-fast tempo (often reaching 170 bpm). Drum-based
with very strong, deep bass line. There are lots of short, fast notes called ‘breakbeats’
played between the main beats, giving a disjointed feel.
UK GARAGE: Dance music that uses ideas from jungle, drum ‘n’ bass and modern
R&B. Vocal sounds are used like percussion.
TRANCE: A very repetitive sound. Uses echoey and electronic sounds and lots of
effects. Slow chord changes over a fast beat are meant to make you feel like you’re in
a trance.
AMBIENT: Slow, sometimes jazzy. Usually sounds chilled and ‘out of this world’.
Technological effects and processes:
 Fade in
 Compression
 Cross-fading
 Quantising
 Layering
 Sequencing
 Sampling
 Mixing
 Reverb
 Filtering
 Panning
 Scratching
 Sweeping
 EQ
Britpop arrived in the early 1990s in part as a
reaction to the dominance of American
Grunge bands.
It was usually guitar-and-drum based rock,
sometimes with orchestral backing.
Britpop is an eclectic sound drawing on many
musical styles of the previous 40 years (i.e.
from the 60s and 70s).
You need to listen out for...
 Acoustic instruments
 Prominent vocals
 Straightforward production
 Simply structure
 Traditional chord structure
 Lyrics about everyday life
 Strong melodic vocal lines
 British accents(!)
Since ancient Greek drama developed from
festivals of singing and dancing, there has
always been music in the theatre.
To create atmosphere, set the scene, and
excite and entertain the audience.
Musicals were invented in the USA.
They are considered the pop versions of
 Tunes easy to sing.
 Diatonic harmonies.
 Simple structure:
Grabs the audiences’
attention and sets the
mood for the song.
Has new chords and new lyrics.
A change of mood to keep the
audience interested.
The chorus usually follows a 32-bar form.
The chorus has a hook.
Many musicals are heavily jazz-influenced.
Ties the song off –
either loud and brassy
or sad and quiet.
SOLO CHARACTER SONG: A character sings about how
they’re feeling – in love, full of hate, over the moon with
happiness etc.
DUET: Duets are basically the same as solo character songs,
except there are two people singing so you get two different
reactions to a situation.
ACTION SONG: The words of a song tell you what’s going on in
the plot – they lead you into the next bit of the story.
CHORUS NUMBER: The whole cast get together and have a
big old sing-song!
Indian Raga, African Music and Fusions
A raga is a set of notes (usually between 5 – 8)
which are combined to create a particular
Raga performances are improvised.
They are never written down.
Ragas use a scale similar to the Western 12note scale.
Spirituality is an important part of almost all
Indian Classical Music.
The sitar plays the melody.
 A raga scale is a set of ascending and descending notes.
 Sometimes the melody is taken by a singer instead of the
The tabla plays the rhythm.
 Sometimes the audience joins in by clapping.
The tambura creates the harmony.
 This can be described as a drone.
 The tambura plays a simple rhythmic pattern.
There are no gaps between the different phases – each one
flows into the next.
Gat or
Steady Medium
Moderately Fast
High point in piece.
Virtuoso display using
advanced playing
techniques – i.e.
performer shows off.
The fixed composition is
introduced. In the case of a
vocal piece, a song, in an
instrumental piece, a
prepared solo. Musical
dialogue takes place between
the instrumentalist and the
drummer, as well as
improvised flourishes on the
prepared melodic line.
Soloist explores the
notes of the rag
(melody), setting the
mood, accompanied
by the tambura drone.
Music is improvised.
Improvised music
becomes more
rhythmic. Music
becomes more
elaborate and the
tempo increases.
Drums are the most widely played
instrument in Africa.
They are used as an accompaniment for
singing, dancing and even working.
They are used to call people together for
important community events.
There are different drum beats for different
events so people from neighbouring villages
can tell what’s going on just by listening.
It has a single head
and is shaped like a
goblet. It’s played
with the hands. The
overall size of the
drum affects its
The player holds this
under one arm and
hits the drumhead
with a stick. The
vertical strings can
be squeezed and
released to alter the
pitch of the drum.
The kagan is a small
barrel-shaped drum,
and the kidi is a
medium-sized barrel
drum. Both are from
Dundun are
cylindrical drums
played with sticks.
There are 3 types:
• Kenkeni – high
• Sangban – middle
• Doundoun – deep
Using a stick (or beater).
Using hands (stroking).
 Slap – hit edge with fingers apart
 Tone – hit edge with finger together
 Bass – hit centre of drum with flat hand
Dampening is resting one hand or beater on
the drum whilst playing with the other.
Pitch change by tightening the skin.
Strike wood instead of the skin.
A thumb piano is a
really popular
instrument partly
because it’s pocketsized. It makes a
liquid twangy sound.
This is made and played
by the Mandingo
people. It’s got 21 strings
and you play it by
plucking – a bit like a
This is a wooden
xylophone. The lumpy
thing hanging underneath
the keys are dried gourds.
They create a warm,
mellow sound.
The rhythms are complex and based on cycles of
varying lengths.
Polyrhythms and cross-rhythms are common.
Performances are long and involve the audience.
They can last for several hours.
The audience shouts and cheers or repeats phrases
sung by the main performers – this is an integral
part of the performance.
At some point, each drummer will play a solo; while
he does so, he sings and dances as well.
The blues was created when African and
European music fused together.
 Jazz, gospel, reggae and soul all grew out of the
These styles have been imitated and
developed in Western pop for years.
Many African elements are so much part of
pop music that you probably take them for
In the exam, mention complex crossrhythms, repetition, unison backing vocals
and call-and-response.
Some fusion borrows from Latin American
 Syncopated rhythms: samba, tango and rumba.
 Instrumentation: maracas, congas, bongos, guiro,
claves and cowbell all give a Latin feel to a song.
Bhangra was originally a traditional style of
folk dance from North India and Pakistan.
It has been combined with Western pop style
to create a whole new sound.
This typical bhangra rhythm’s often
combined with reggae, rap and rock.
Music technology now plays a big part in bhangra:
remixes, samples, drum machines and other DJ
techniques (like scratching) have now taken over
from elements of the original folk dance.
Salsa music is a diverse and predominantly
Latin American Caribbean.
An ostinato is played on a clave.
Call-and-response is used between the lead
singer and chorus.
Mainly primary chords (I, IV and V) in the
Harmonies are in 3rds and 6ths.
Knowing typical composers is essential for the exam
Renaissance (1420 – 1600)
 Taverner, Byrd
Baroque (1600 – 1750)
 Vivaldi, Purcell
Classical (1750 – 1820)
 Mozart, Haydn
Romantic (1810 – 1900)
 Tchaikovsky, Grieg
Contemporary (1900 –)
 Stravinsky, Walton
Libretto – the overall text including spoken and sung parts.
Lyrics – the words to the songs.
If asked to describe the word setting in a
piece of music, you could use:
 Melismatic
 Word painting
 Dotted rhythms
 Repetition
 Imitation
An ornamental phrase
of several notes sung to
one syllable of text, as
in plainsong or blues.
MONOPHONIC: Literally means just ‘one sound’. A single musical line,
but can be sung or played by many people.
HOMOPHONIC: Literally means ‘same sounds’. Melody and
accompaniment style. Parts move roughly together. This is the most
common type of musical texture.
POLYPHONIC: Literally means ‘many sounds’. Two or more parts playing
a melody and entering the texture individually to create a contrapuntal
texture. Common in Renaissance vocal music.
HETEROPHONIC: Literally means a ‘difference of sounds’. Two or more
parts play a melody together but with some slight differences in pitch.
This is common in Eastern musical traditions where music is learnt and
played by ear (i.e. oral tradition).
 Hammer-on
 Pull-off
 String bend/release
 Vibrato
 Slide up/down (glissando)
 Multiphonics
 Jet Whistle
 Quartertones
 Note Bending
 Breathy Tone
 Pizzicato
 Arco
 Portamento
 Sul Ponticello
 Harmonics
 A Capella
 Harmony
 Call-and-Response
 Overlapping
 Round (Cannoned)
A cadence is formed by two chords at the end of a
passage of music.
Perfect cadences sound like the music has come to
an end.
Interrupted cadences are ‘surprise’ cadences.
Imperfect cadences sound unfinished.
Plagal cadences sound finished.
Plagal cadences are often used at the end of
hymns and sung to Amen – this is why they
are referred to as the “Amen cadence”.
Download sample papers to see their format
and layout from www.edexcel.com.