AQA GCSE Music - Five Areas Of Study

A set of notes on all of the areas of study.

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Five Areas of Study
Harmony Overview
Anything to do with chords and chord progressions.
Questions may ask to name a cadence, spot a special harmonic feature or
describe the chords used.
Basic Terms
Consonant ­ notes that sound pleasing together
Dissonant ­ notes that clash with each other
Diatonic ­ the music only uses notes from the current key
Chromatic ­ the music uses notes that aren't in the current key
A lowercase numeral (e.g. ii) means that the chord is minor.
An uppercase numeral (e.g. IV) means that the chord is major.
The most important chords to remember are the tonic (I), subdominant (IV)
and dominant (V).
The dominant 7th is a triad on the dominant with an extra note a 7th above
the tonic. E.g. C major, the dominant 7th chord contains the notes GBDF.
Perfect: V to I ­ sounds strong and final
Imperfect: I to V or ii to V (ends in V) ­ sounds incomplete
Plagal: IV to I ­ often used to sing `amen' to in church music
Interrupted: V to VI ­ sounds like a surprise
Sometimes a piece in a minor key will end with a major tonic chord rather than a
minor one. This is called tierce de Picardie.
Other Harmonic Features
Pedal note or drone: a note that is held or repeated (usually in the bass) while
the harmonies above it change.
Tonality Overview
Tonality refers to keys.
Questions may ask you to talk about whether a passage of music was major or
minor or to describe any modulations that occur.
Basic Terms
Tonal: in major or minor key
Atonal: not in any key

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Five Areas of Study
Modal: based on a type of sevennote scale called a `mode'.
Key Signatures
They key of a piece indicates which scale it is based on.
Each key has its own key signature. This shows which notes on the stave are to
be played as flats or sharps.…read more

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Five Areas of Study
Homophonic ­ an accompanied melody
Contrapuntal/polyphonic ­ a texture made up of two or more melodies which
interweave with each other
Imitative ­ the opening of a melody is copied in one or more other parts in the
texture, while the original melody continues.…read more

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Five Areas of Study
Classical Music Forms
Binary ­ AB (usually repeated i.e. AABB)
Ternary ­ ABA
Rondo ­ ABACA
Theme and variations ­ Theme, Variation 1, Variation 2, Variation 3, Variation
The variations are based on the theme and can differ in texture, melody,
harmony, rhythm and tempo.
Sonata form Often used for the first movement of a work such as a symphony
or concerto.…read more

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Five Areas of Study
capo' at the end of section B informs the singer they need to return to the
beginning to repeat section A. This repeat of section A is usually decorated
by the singer. The `da capo' was popular in the Baroque period.
Popular Music Forms
Call and response ­ One part sings the phrase (the call) and another part
responds with an answering phrase (the response).…read more

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Five Areas of Study
Questions on timbre may ask you to name the melody instrument or describe
particular instrumental techniques.…read more

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Five Areas of Study
Synthesiser ­ an electronic instrument that can be controlled through a
keyboard. It allows you to manipulate the sounds produced and add digital
effects. Most electronic music includes synthesised sounds.…read more


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