Music Coursework Gcse

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GCSE Music
Qualification type: GCSE
Subject: Music
Examination board:
Examination number:
Exam Information: 40% - 1 or 2 Listening exams
Coursework information: 60% - including composition and performance.
Revision notes: [[{{{Revision}}}|Revision Guide]]
Useful for: A Level Music

OCR From 2009 Specification

Qualification type: GCSE
Subject: Music
Examination board: OCR
Examination number: 1919
Exam Information: Listening exam (25%)
Creative Task (15%)
Coursework information: {{{Coursework}}}
Revision notes: [[{{{Revision}}}|Revision Guide]]
Useful for:


  • Controlled Assessment: 60%
  1. 30% Integrated Tasks - 15% performing (solo), 10% composing, 5% Commentary
  2. 30% Practical Portfolio - 15% performing (ensemble), 10% composing, 5% Composition Log
  • Creative Task: 15% - 45 Minutes Examination.
  • Listening exam: 25% Up to 1 hour and 30 minutes examination.

There are four Areas of Study:

  1. My Music
  2. Shared Music' - Romantic Songs, Pop Ballads, Classical Concerto, Jazz, Indian Classical, Baroque and Classical Chamber Music, The Great Chorale Classics, African a Capella Singing.
  3. Dance Music - Waltz, Tango, Salsa, American Line Dance, Jigs, Reels, Bhangra, Disco and Club
  4. Descriptive Music - Programme and Film

AoS1 is examined by Controlled Assessment. 2, 3 and 4 are examined by the listening exam.

Controlled Assessment - 60%

Integrated Tasks

The first 15% is based on performing on your first instrument. You perform one piece of music, which can be any genre or style. This has to recorded by your teacher and is marked by your teacher and is moderated by OCR.

The next 5% is a commentary about your performance, where you mention the context of your piece, the quality of the performance, the instrumental techniques used and a brief for a composition drawing techniques investigated. This should be no more than 400 words.

The final 10% is for the composition, which should be based on your instrument with techniques mentioned in the brief. It can either be a solo or in a group with the instrument played in the performance acting as a significant part.

Practical Portfolio

The other half of the 60% controlled assessment block is the Practical Performance. The first 15% is based on a group performance, where the piece being played must be different from the perfomance in the Intergrated Tasks. You can play with other GCSE students or with your teacher or with a backing track, but your performance must have a significant part in the piece. The mark shall assess how you work within an ensemble.

The next 10% is for the composition which can be: an original composition or arrangement for two or more players, an original compisition or arrangement for a dance, an original composition or arrangement based on a mood.

The final 5% is based on a log, which has been written about the composition. This should track the process and evaluate the whole composition.

Creative Task

This is a unique aspect of the OCR course. You are given a choice of six stimuli: A rythmic phrase, A note pattern, A set of words, A sequence of events, A melodic phrase or a chord pattern. You may use any instrument or ICT and choose only one of the six stimuli. Your teacher is allowed to play the choosen stimuli twice. The examination is 45 minutes long and you have 40 minutes to compose the stimuli into a short piece of music. In the final five minutes your teacher records your piece and it is sent to OCR to be marked. In this task OCR are looking for creativity and performing techniques, so use a structure such as ABA or a rondo form with a modulation.

Listening Exam

The final part of the GCSE is the listening exam, which accounts for 25% - considerably less than the other exam boards, which appear to have a 40% exam element. The key to success is definitely time management - you must be able to multi task, because you have to answer multiple questions while trying to listen to the recordings at the same time. A good idea when you're really stuck, is to write everything you know about the style you're hearing, regardless of whether you can disctinctly hear it or not - the chances are it is there. This examination is based on short questions requiring a few words answer, multiple choice questions. There is also a skeleton score placed in the examination requiring you to fill in the notes. There is also an 8 mark essay question based on descriptive music.


Edexcel GCSE Music
Qualification type: GCSE
Subject: Music
Examination board: Edexcel
Examination number: 2MU01
Exam Information: Music – Listening and Appraising (40%)
Coursework information: Performing Music (30%)
Composing Music (30%)
Revision notes: [danconway's Revision Notes|Revision Guide]]
Useful for:

This description refers to the current Edexcel specification, the first exam of which was taken in Summer 2011.

Coursework: 60%

30% performance

For component 5MU01, the performance comprises of 15% solo performing (1 piece, less than five minutes, and a score should be submitted) and 15% ensemble performance (1 piece). These do not have to be drawn from the same Area of Study as Composition 1. The compositions of pupils can also be accepted, but a written commentary must be submitted if this option is taken.

30% composing

In the new specification: 15% Composition 1 , 15% Composition 2 (based on a different Area of Study). They must both conform to the topics within the Area of Study, and have a score or written commentary and a recording, with a pro forma. The brief is described and the fulfillment of the brief described on the pro forma.

Listening and writing exam: 40%

Again, the listening exam is a large part of the course and one that cannot be ignored despite the large amount of coursework. However, there is ample time to listen to the music, and ample to write. The specification has a range of key terms that should be learnt for the exam. And if you cannot hear particular items in the music but know its era, you may want to circumvent this by regurgitating information. However, it is always best to listen to key aspects of the music. A range of question types including multiple choice, melody completion, grid completion and free response questions can be found in the exam. This part last approximately one hour, or as long as the tape runs.

There is also a seperate written piece lasting 30 minutes, which has a choice of two questions, one from AOS1/2 and one from AOS3/4. this is another area where learning a pre-written response is valuable, as key terms are again sought for.

Exam practice is invaluable to gaining the A* at GCSE level, as the papers ask for specific answers which require a little experience to fully understand what they are looking for. Many students find that a knowledge of general music theory is foregone for knowledge of merely the syllabus.

Areas of Study

These are now based around set works, listed below:

  1. Western classical music 1600-1899
    • G.F. Handel: 'And the Glory of the Lord' from Messiah, HWV 56
    • Mozart: 1st movement from Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K.550
    • F. Chopin: Prelude No. 15 in D flat major, Op. 28
  2. Music in the 20th century
    • Schoenberg: Peripetie from Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16
    • Bernstein: Something's Coming from West Side Story
    • Steve Reich: 3rd movement (fast) from Electric Counterpoint
  3. Popular music in context
    • Miles Davis: All Blues from the album Kind of Blue
    • Jeff Buckley: Grace from the album Grace
    • Moby: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? from the album Play
  4. World music
    • Capercaillie: Chuir M'Athair Mise Dhan Taigh Charraideach (Skye Waulking Song) from the album Nadurra
    • Rag Desh
      • Version 1: Anoushka Shankar
      • Version 2: Chiranji Lal Tanwar
      • Version 3: Steve Gorn and Benjy Wertheimer
    • Koko: Yiri

Categories: GCSE Subject Guides | Music (Subject)

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