GCSE Music: Years 10 and 11

GCSE Music candidates follow the Edexcel Specification (download here) which caters for a wide range of musical abilities. The GCSE in Music is designed to build on the work done in Music lessons in Years 7-9. To get the most out of the GCSE course  you will need to enjoy making music, to be open to listening to and studying a wide range of musical styles,  and to be able to manage your time and work independently.

GCSE Music gives you the opportunity to develop your skills in three main areas – Performing, Composing and Listening - which are linked through the study of a broad range of set works. 

Unit 1: Performing

Candidates are required to perform one solo and one ensemble in any style or genre. There are also options for performing using music technology, improvising and ensemble direction. (30%)

An A/A* graded performance needs to demonstrate excellent accuracy and an interpretation that shows a strong sense style. Submissions ideally need to be of a good Grade 4 standard or above (NB: you are not required to have taken any grade examinations, and this is the expected level by May of Year 11).

Unit 2: Composing

Candidates are required to create two original compositions or arrangements completed under controlled conditions based on two different Areas of Study (see below). (30%)

A/A* compositions / arrangements will show the ability to develop and refine initial ideas, to build a substantial musical structure and to compose effectively for the chosen instruments/voices.

Unit 3: Listening and Appraising

All candidates sit one written paper in the summer of Year 11 which consists of eight listening questions and one ‘essay’ question based on set works studied over the two years of the course. The set works are organised into four Areas of Study focusing on three set works in each area:

(AoS 1) Western Classical Music 1600-1899;

  • Handel: ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ from Messiah.
  • Mozart: First movement from Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K550.
  • Chopin: Prelude No 15 in D flat major, Op. 28.

(AoS 2) Music in the 20th Century;

  • Schoenberg: ‘Peripetie’ from Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16.
  • Bernstein: ‘Something’s Coming’ from West Side Story.
  • Reich: 3rd Movement (fast) from Electric Counterpoint.

(AoS 3) Popular Music in Context;

  • Miles Davis: ‘All Blues’ from the album Kind of Blue.
  • J Buckley: ‘Grace’ from the album Grace.
  • Moby: ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’ from the album Play.

(AoS 4) World Music;

  • Folk Fusion: Capercaillie – ‘Chuir M’Athair Mise Dhan Taigh Charraideach’ (‘Skye Waulking Song’) from the album Nàdurra.
  • Indian Raga: Three Versions of Rag Desh - (i) Anousha Shanker, (ii) S D Dhandhada and H Dhandhada & (iii) B Wertheimer and S Gorn.
  • African Music: Koko - Yiri.

A/A* Written Papers will demonstrate a detailed academic understanding and aural familiarity with the full range of set works. High achieving students show an excellent grasp of technical terminology, music theory and the ability to apply this knowledge.