GCSE Music: element you should know


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Is the rhythm syncopated or on the beat?

Are there dotted rhythms?

Are there rhythmic ostinati (repeated rhythmic patterns)?

Is it swung rhythm as in Jazz or Blues?

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Does the melody move up or down?

By steps or leaps or a mixture?

Does it have any sequences?

Describe the shape ( e.g. arched or descending by leaps)

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This means the colour of the sound

Is the instrumental sound piercing or muted?

Is the instrument playing in its low or high register

(e.g. low sounds on flute)

Is the timbre rich in the combination of sounds or bare?

(A single violin)

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Is the music major or minor?

Is it in a key or atonal?

Does it have clashing notes (dissonance)?

Does it use Blues harmony or a tuning system such as a Raga? (Indian Music)

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Identify the texture with this element. The texture often varies in extracts

The most common types for GCSE are Monophonic, Homophonic, Polyphonic,

Tune & Accompaniment and Heterophonic.

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Be prepared to use Italian or English terms. The GCSE exam questions often ask you to identify changes in dynamics (e.g. it starts piano then there is a crescendo)

The words in the scores of your extracts used for dynamics are important so note them carefully

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Likewise know the terms chosen by composers in the set works. Be aware of how speed can help create an effect – pieces played at a much slower pace than intended often end up having a very different mood to the one originally set. Bear this mind when practising your solos and ensembles!

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Make sure you can say what the time-signature is. Be aware of the difference between SIMPLE and COMPOUND time.

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Are there clashing notes (dissonance) in some of the chords?

Is chromaticism used?

Is it Diatonic (only using notes within the key)

Can you identify the cadence used (E.g. Perfect, Plagal etc..)

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Sophie kendall

really helpful thank you

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