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GCSE Composition Task 1

What is a Study?

  • A study is a short piece of music for a solo instrument which focuses on a part of your performance technique.
  • It usually involves the development of a few short ideas or motifs/riffs such as a short rhythmic or melodic idea.
  • The piece is designed to improve your technique - the skills that allow you to play/sing more difficult pieces.
  • Think of it as an interesting way of learning scales/exercises/rudiments that you need to master on your instrument/voice.

Task: Listen to this Prelude for unaccompanied cello by Bach. Try and work out what the main musical building blocks are to the piece. Think about common melodic patterns and how many times the music modulates. Do other DR G SMITH elements change at all? If so, think about how they do.

Then listen to this GCSE Study Composition, based on the Bach piece above. Can you work out how the two pieces are related to each other? How successful has the composer been in balancing their desire to base their piece on someone else's, whilst ensuring that it has a range of original ideas.

We will discuss this before you embark on your own Study composition.

What is a Folk Song?

There are lots of different interpretations of what a folk song is, depending on a number of factors, but for the purpose of this project, we are referring to an unaccompanied traditional song, similar to those sung in an ABRSM exam.

  • They are normally strophic (repetitive melody line, different text every verse).
  • Often they have a chorus, which is the highest point in the melody.
  • Dynamics are controlled by the performer, responding to the meaning of the text.
  • The stresses of the text determine the rhythmic shape of the music.
  • They require an excellent sense of tuning, and breath control.

Task: Listen to this traditional version of Scarborough Fair. Think about the typical features of folk songs, listed above, and work out whether you think it is has all or some of these features. Think about the melodic shape in particular, and the way the text fits with this shape. How do they work together?

Then listen to this GCSE Folk Song, based on the style of the piece above. Can you work out how the two pieces are related to each other? How successful has the composer been replicating the style of a traditional folk song into their own composition?

We will discuss this before you embark on your own Folk Song composition.

Study Composition Task

You are going to compose a short study for your instrument. You need to think about fundamentals, such as the key and time signature, mood etc. You must also decide on which technical element(s) you are going to include in your piece, and think about how best to exploit them. You must be able to perform your own piece, so think carefully about the limitations that this will place on you. You will have three weeks worth of class lessons, plus appropriate homework time. You must produce a score of your piece in Sibelius.

Assessment

At this stage, we are not ready to assess your composition using the GCSE Composition Mark Scheme. We will have a look at it, so that when we are ready to use it, we have an idea of what to expect. You will be given regular feedback by your teacher and peers as your piece is developing, and a final comment, split into areas of strength, and areas for improvement. This will be emailed to you.

Folk Song Composition Task

You are going to compose a short folk song for yourself to sing. You need to start by selecting a text which is suitable - something with a regular verse pattern and similar length lines. Then work out the basic rhythmic scanning of each line. Once you've done that, you need to think about fundaments, such as the key and time signature. Getting the words to line up properly with the melody is the most important aspect, and tricky to do. It will take patience! You will have three weeks worth of class lessons, plus appropriate homework time. You must produce a score of your piece in Sibelius.

Assessment

At this stage, we are not ready to assess your composition using the GCSE Composition Mark Scheme. We will have a look at it, so that when we are ready to use it, we have an idea of what to expect. You will be given regular feedback by your teacher and peers as your piece is developing, and a final comment, split into areas of strength, and areas for improvement. This will be emailed to you.

However, if you want to look at the GCSE mark scheme, it can be found by clicking here.

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