GCSE Music Listening

Breif summary of each music piece.

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  • Created by: Victoria
  • Created on: 01-05-11 17:40

1: 'And the Glory of the Lord' by Handel

Performing Forces: Choir is made up of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses

They are accompanied by stings and continuo (for cello and harpsichord or organ)

The orchestra often doubles the vocal lines.

Stucture: Starts withh an orchestral introduction - ritornello. Shortened versions of this ritornello return later in 2 different places.

No set form to the movement. It is based on different combinations of the four motifs.

Rhythm: A number of hemiolas in the peice (ie. bars 9 -10, where it feels like 2/4)

Metre: Dance like metre of 3/4

Tempo: Maintains a fast tempo (Allegro) almost until the end, when there is a general pause for 1 bar, and the 3 bars in a slower tempo (Adagio) to create a drawn out ending.

Word setting: Mixtre of syllabic and melismatic word setting.

Different phrases of text are repeated many times, making the words as clear as possible.

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1: 'And the Glory of the Lord' by Handel

Melody: The movement is based on 4 motifs.

1. First sung by the Altos,(bar 11) clearly outlining the key of A major.

2. First sung by the Tenors (bar 17) using a descending sequence and a melisma on the word 'revealed'.

3. First sung by Altos (bar 43). Short descending figure from A to E is repeated twice.

4. First sung by Tenors and Basses (bar 51) mostly sung in same pitch (A). Uses longer notes so it sounds rather solemn.

Tonality: The peice is in A major. Modulates to two related keys; dominant (E major) and supertonic (B major). Ends with a plagal cadence in A major.

Harmony:  Diatonic

Texture: Alternates between homophonic and contrapuntal passages.

Very short monophonic passage.

Used immitation often at different pitches and number of parts varies.

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2: Symphony No. 40 by Mozart

Structure and Tonality: The structure is in sonata form, in the key of G minor.

Exposition - 1st Subject- A melody that is characterised by a falling motif played by stings at first in G minor.

   2nd Subject- A melody with descending chormatic patterns, shared between strings and woodwind, in Bb major (relative major)

Development -  Based on the 1st Subject, which is developed and fragmented. Moves through various keys, starting in F sharp minor.

Recapitulation- 1st Subject- 1st subject repeated with some variation, in G minor.

2nd Subject-  2nd Subject repeated with some variation in G minor

Coda-  Repeated perfect cadences in G minor fnish the piece.

Melody: Most made up of balanced, four or eight bar phrases that sound like questions and answers, for example using imperfect cadences at the end of the question, and then perfect cadences at the end of the answer.

Many phrases are scalic.

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2: Symphony No. 40 by Mozart

Harmony: Diatonic and functional based around standard major and minor triads.

There are also examples of chromatic chords (dim. 7th and aug. 6th), a circle of 5ths progression (2nd subject) and pedal notes, which the cellos have (before the 2nd subject).

Rhythm:  Short rhythmic ideas repeated to create unity. for exaple 2st sebject begins with an anacrusis of 2 quavers which recurs throughout the 1st subject. Rhythms are simple, although there are some dotted rhythms and syncopation.                                      

 Metre and Tempo: 4/4 throughout, and Molto Allegro - very fast.                                        

Texture: Mostly homophonic, but there are examples or counterpoint and imitation in development.  Octave doublings used often, and dialogue between the woodwind and strings at start of the second subject.     

Dynamics: Dynamic contrasts occur suddenly - few crescendos. 1st subject - quiet, transition - loud, 2nd subject - starts quietly and gets louder. Recapitulation starts and ends quiet.

Instrumentation:  Uses a chamber orchestra made up of strings, woodwind and horns. the strings are busy most of the time, playing the melody, quick running scales, sustained notesa and forceful chords. the woodwind dont play as much and have more sustained notes. Horns are in different keys (one in G and one in Bb) maximising the number of notes they can play. They sustain harmonies.

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3: Prelude No. 15 by Chopin

Structure: Ternary form (ABA). 

A -  Db major -  A lyrical melody accompanied by quavers in the bass. has its own ABA structure.

B -  C sharp minor -  New melody now in bass and quavers heard above it. Builds up to 2 ff climaxes.

A  - Db major -  Return to opening melody. This repeat is shorter and finishes with a breif coda.

Rhythm: Uses septuplets (bar 4 and 23) played in a single crotchet beat. Also a dectuplet (bar 79). Repeated quavers are a unifying rhythmic feature. Melody begins with dotted rhythm, giving a lighter feel than in Section B.

Metre: 4/4

Tempo: Sostenuto - sustained, should be played in a legato unhurried manner. Rubato is used in recorded performance, creating a flexable tempo for expressive effect.

Melody: Begins with lyrical melody in right hand. Uses ornamentation such as acciaccaturas and turns. Features dotted rhythms and some chromaticism. Section B melody moves to bass, with a narrower range and longer notes. The prelude is made of 4+8 bar phrases.

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3: Prelude No. 15 by Chopin

Tonality: Db major. Modulates from tonic major to enharmonic tonic minor (C sharp) in section B.

Harmony: Diatonic harmony with occasional chromaticism. Section A and B noth end with imperfect cadences, but prelude ends with perfect cadence. There is a dominant pedal for most of the peice (repeated Abs in section A and repeated G sharps in section B).

Texture: Texture is all homophonic (except last 3 bars). 

Section A: melody in right hand with broken chords in left. Section B melody to left hand, with dominant pedal in right (inverted pedal), which is doubled in octaves at the climaxes. This section is more chordal. Section A is as before but with monophonic passage in coda.

Dynamics: Uses a lot of crescendos and diminuendos. A wide range of dynamics (pp to ff) but no sudden contrasts. Section A is quieter than section B which climaxes to ff twice.

Use of the piano: Middle and lower ranges of piano. Not virtuoso in character, but concentrates on the pianos ability to produce a legato, singing tone. Wide dynamic range with much use of crescendos and diminuendos. The sustaining pedal is used for resonance to create legato melodies.

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4. 'Peripetie' from Five Orchestral Pieces

Instrumentation: Requires a large orchestra of at least 90 players. Instrumentation changes rapidly throughout creating many contrasts in timbre. Performers are frequently required to play at the extremes of their range. Unusual effects are used  - cymbals played with a mallet and cello bow.

Unusual instruments include : Piccolo (small flute), Cor anglais (a lower version of the oboe), Bass clarinet (a large clarinet an octave lower), Contrabassoon (a large bassoon an octave lower than written in score) and a Tam-Tam (a large gong).

Melody:  Made up of many short fragmented motifs combined in different ways. In first 18 bars 7 motifs are introduced. Melodies are disjunct (many large leaps) so often sound very angular. There are octave displacements, unexpectedly moving individual notes from main melody into another octave. Motifs aren't really developed, but they vary with techniques like inversion and rhythmical augmentation.

Rhythm: Complex and varied and change quickly. There are layers of different rhythmic patterns to create a complex contrapuntal texture.

Metre: Changes between 3/4, 2/4, and 4/4.

Tempo: Sehr rasch - very quick

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4. 'Peripetie' from Five Orchestral Pieces

Tonality: Atonal

Harmony: It uses a lot of dissonant harmony. Chords and melodies built on hexachords.

Texture: Largely contrapuntal, with occasional monophonic and homophonic moments. Complex textures built up through use of imitation and inversion. Different canons all heard at the same time make up the final climax.

Dynamics: Frequent sudden changes of dynamics leading to extreme contrasts between ppp and fff.

Structure: Free rondo form, with five sections (ABACA). it is called free rondo because it is very different from the traditional type of rondo heard in classical period when different sections were clearly contrasted.

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5. 'Something's Coming' by Bernstein

Instrumentation: For a solo tenor accompanied by a band made up of woodwind, brass, percussion and strings. To make sure the band doesn't over power the soloist, they use quiet dynamics, soft timbres (such as muted trumpets and pizzicato strings) and a homophonic texture. To illustrate the words 'the air is humming', the stings use harmonics and play tremolo.

Structure: 1. Quiet syncopated opening theme.

2. The loud, strident theme in 2/4 (first heard at bar 21)

3. the lyrical, slow moving theme (bar 73)

All alternated a number of times.

Melody: Almost entirely syllabic. It is based on the alternation of three main themes in the structure. They are repeated a number of times, not exactly, they are varied by changing the words or the metre.

Rhythm: Accompaniment made largely of an on-beat bass part with off beat chords. These two parts create cross rhythms. Syncopation helps to maintain feeling of anticipation.

Metre: Changes between 3/4 and 2/4

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5. 'Something's Coming' by Bernstein

Tempo:  Fast tempo. Crotchet = 176

Harmony: Frequent use of the sharpened 4th and flattened 7th in both keys (G sharp and C natural in the D major sections, and F sharp and Bb in the C major sections). The sharpened 4th creates the interval of a tritone with the key note, an interval that acts as a unifying feature throughout West Side Story.

The tenor's last note is a flattened seventh (C natural). Sounds unresolved and music fades out beneath it. Feeling of incompletion fits in well with Tony's sense of expectation.

Harmony is tonal and jazz-influenced with frequent 7th chords and other added note chords.

Tonality: D major. There are 2 contrasting sections in C major.

Texture: Homophonic. There are 3 main ideas in the accompaniment.

1. The repeated riff that opens the song.

2. The short, mainly syncopated chords heard in bars 21 - 26

3. A fast um-cha accompaniment first heard bar 32 for the long not on 'me'.

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6. Reich: Electric Counterpoint (Third Movement)

Instrumentation: For live guitar, accompanied by parts for seven guitars and two bass guitars that have been pre recorded. (Although they can be played live if preferred.) The live guitar is amplified to blend in well with the backing tape.

Structure: Builds up in 3 layers. 1. Syncopated quaver motif introduced in live guitar and top 4 guitars, one part at a time. 2. New syncopated quaver motif introduced in bass guitars. 3. More sustained motif built around 3 chords, begins in the live guitar and then transferred to other parts.

After all 3 layer have been built up, layers 2 and 3 fade out together, leaving layer 1 to continue until it comes to rest on  a held chord.

Melody: Made up of a one bar motif that is repeated continuously to form an ostinato. At one point the live guitar plays a melody that is made up of selected individual notes from the other guitar parts, creating a resultant melody.

Texture: The piece has a contrapuntal texture. Motif is introduced by the live guitar and top 4 guitars at different times creating a canonIn some of the parts Reich builds up parts through note addition (notes gradually added until all notes are heard).

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6. Reich: Electric Counterpoint (Third Movement)

Rhythm: Little  rhythmic variety - most is made up of repeating patterns of quavers. There is frequent syncopation. Reich uses an effect called metrical displacement, where guitars 1-4 all play the same motif but start at different places in the bar. They sound out of sync with each other.

Metre: Main metre is 3/2. Each minim is split into four quavers, so there are 12 quavers per bar. Towards the end, some parts go into 12/8 while others continue in 3/2. This combination of time signatures is  an example of polymetre.

Tempo: Crotchet = 192. A very fast speed.

Harmony: Entirely diatonic. Reich uses hexatonic scales. The first motif is hexatonic - it uses six notes of the G major scale.

Conventional harmonic progressions aren't used, (eg. no cadences). The final chord is made up of only 2 notes, B and E; because there is no cadence and it isn't a complete chord, we cannot be sure what key it is in.

Tonality: Largely in key of G major, some shorter sections towards the end in Eb major. Diationic.

Dynamics: Overall dynamics remain fairly constant throughout. Parts gradually fade out in a number of places.

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7. Miles Davis: All Blues

Structure: Based on 12 bar blues progression. One statement of the progression is known as a chorus. Main melody is called the head and played by muted trumpet - can be heard at start and end of piece.      There is a simple 4 bar riff in parallel 3rds the separated each section. Piece can be broken into 5 sections:

1.Introduction - opening 4 bars played by rhythm section followed by riff.                                                        2. Head 1 - the head melody followed by riff is played twice.                                                                           3. Solos - for trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax and piano, each followed by riff. (front-line instruments)                 4. Head 2 - the head melody, followed by riff is played twice.                                                                           5. Coda - a  solo for muted trumpet.

Melody: Head melody is quite simple - characterised by rising 6ths (interval from D to B). Followed by 4 improvised solos.

1. Trumpet- 4 choruses - mostly made up of short syncopated motifs.

2. Alto sax- 4 choruses - quicker notes and wider range. More virtuosic.

3. Tenor sax solo- 4 choruses - uses fast scales and quick runs. Also very virtuosic.

4. Piano- 2 choruses - calmer with a simple melody leads into a string of parallel chords.

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7. Miles Davis: All Blues

Harmony: Based on 12 bar blues which is repeated throughout the peice.

G7, G7, G7, G7, Gm7, Gm7, G7, G7, D7, Eb7/D7, F/G, F/G6.

A chord sequence is known as changes by jazz musicians. Also a harmonic and rhythmic backing provided by the rhythm section.

Tonality: We can think of this piece as being in G major, but with a flattened 7th; (blue notes). This is also knows as mixolydian mode, so this is an example of modal jazz.

Rhythm: Performed with swing quavers - in each pair of quavers the first is played a little longer than the second. Frequent syncopation. Also a harmonic and rhythmic backing provided by the rhythm section.

Metre: 6/4 sounds 3/4 (see below)

Tempo: Tempo is described as jazz waltz - the metre associated with the waltz (3/4)

Instrumental techniques: Snare drum played with wire brushes - switches to sticks later. The bass is played pizzicato throughout. Trumpet is played with a Harmon mute for the head. Pianist plays tremolo at the start of the piece. Once the solo begins, the pianist begins comping (accompanying with chords and short melodic ideas).

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really good but couldn't read everything that was on the card



Please could you edit the cards so that all the text can be seen.


Ele (moderator)


Lucy wrote:

where can the text not be seen? i can see everything? :)


Pages 3,4 and 14 are cut off mainly at the bottom of the page, maybe if you copy the whole text and create it as a Revision Note instead of a Revision Card like you did as the text cannot be seen on those following pages. Other than that some fabulous set of notes. Much Aprreciated


Frenchie :)


okay! i have made them into shared resources (as in a word document) where all pieces are explained except Jeff Buckley's Grace... :) 

Hope this helps!

Vicky :)


Cheers vicksterr!

you are the bestest ;)

nice presentation mate




just kidding. it was me ;)

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