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GCSE Edexcel Revision

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Edexcel Specification 2009
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Edexcel Specification 2009

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AoS 1: Structure in Western Classical Music (1600 – 1899)

AoS 2: Changing Directions in Western Classical Music from 1900

AoS 3: Popular Music in ContextAoS 4: Indian Raga, African Music

and Fusions

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Structure in Western Classical Music (1600 – 1899)

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Structure or form is the overall shape of a piece of music.

Composers usually plan the structure of a song before they get into the detail.

Most musical plans use repetition and contrast.You will need to be able to spot the plan

quickly when in the Listening Exam...

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ASK YOURSELF...Which bits are repeated? Is there a main idea repeated?Are there contrasting ideas?How do they differ from each other? Is there an introduction and coda?Does the music follow a plan that

you can already recognise?

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PITCH: The location of a tone in relation to others. DURATION: The length of time that a note is sounded. TIMBRE: The quality of a sound; the instruments

playing together. TEXTURE: How many parts or voices there are. DYNAMICS: The loudness or softness of a

composition. TEMPO: The speed (of the rhythm) of a piece of

music. STRUCTURE: The form of a particular piece.

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Contrast can be created by: Changing keys Changing articulation Using different dynamics Altering the tempo Differing the texture

e.g. Going from a lush rich orchestra to an instrument

playing alone.

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Ternary form is like a burger. It has 3 sections:

A B A.

A B AThe first idea A contrasting idea A variation of the

first idea – i.e. with added


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Rondo form can have any number of sections.

Here is a typical structure of a rondo:

A B A C AThe main


contrasting idea

The main theme repeats

Another contrastin

g idea

A variation of the main


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Theme and Variation form varies the melody.

Melody is usually a simple, memorable tune.

There can be any number of variations.

Each variation should be a recognisable version of the main theme, although it will be distinctly different:Main Theme

Variation 1

Variation 2

Variation 3

Variation 4

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A Ground Bass is an ostinato. It is usually 4 or 8 bars long. Ground Bass variation becomes

more complex as it goes on: More ornamentation is used Harmonies become more advanced More instruments join in

Expect to hear ground bass in 17th and 18th century music, when it was most popular.

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Changing Directions in Western Classical Music from 1900

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Romantic composers began to move away from tonality in 1900.

Chromatic notes were being used all over the place, so much so that music started to lose the character of the main key of the melody.

Composers felt restricted by traditional tonal music, and so began to experiment.

Atonality began to occur, where music did not have a definitive key.

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Arnold Schoenberg replaced tonality with serialism.

By combining his new ideas with the initiative of using all the notes chromatically, he developed the 12-note tone row:

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Minimalism is music which changes by only a very small amount.

It is easy to tell what is going on. There is no real tune. Harmonies are made by layering

patterns on top of each other, and they take a long time to change.

MINIMALIST COMPOSERS:Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley

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Musical features typical of minimalism: Ostinati Phase shifting Addition Subtraction Transformation Layering Looping Drone

Cyclic Polyrhythm Augmentation Diminution Gradual changes Hypnotic Fading instruments

in and out

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Popular Music in Context

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In the 1970s dance music moved into new venues called discotheques, with faster, more bassy, electric music.

By the 1980s the music had become faster, harder and more electronic.

In the 1990s, clubbing took over; DJs mixed their own music, and dance rhythms dominated popular music.

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HOUSE: 4-4 beat (like all dance music). Lots of repetition, especially in the bass part, and lots of drum machine sounds.

TECHNO: Fast, hard beat (between 130 – 150 bpm), though can be much faster in hardcore techno. Rarely any voices or live sounds – usually mechanical or electronic.

JUNGLE (Drum ‘n’ Bass): Mega-fast tempo (often reaching 170 bpm). Drum-based with very strong, deep bass line. There are lots of short, fast notes called ‘breakbeats’ played between the main beats, giving a disjointed feel.

UK GARAGE: Dance music that uses ideas from jungle, drum ‘n’ bass and modern R&B. Vocal sounds are used like percussion.

TRANCE: A very repetitive sound. Uses echoey and electronic sounds and lots of effects. Slow chord changes over a fast beat are meant to make you feel like you’re in a trance.

AMBIENT: Slow, sometimes jazzy. Usually sounds chilled and ‘out of this world’.

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Technological effects and processes: Fade in Cross-fading Layering Sampling Reverb Panning Sweeping

Compression Quantising Sequencing Mixing Filtering Scratching EQ

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Britpop arrived in the early 1990s in part as a reaction to the dominance of American Grunge bands.

It was usually guitar-and-drum based rock, sometimes with orchestral backing.

Britpop is an eclectic sound drawing on many musical styles of the previous 40 years (i.e. from the 60s and 70s).

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You need to listen out for... Acoustic instruments Prominent vocals Straightforward production Simply structure Traditional chord structure Lyrics about everyday life Strong melodic vocal lines British accents(!)

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Since ancient Greek drama developed from festivals of singing and dancing, there has always been music in the theatre.

To create atmosphere, set the scene, and excite and entertain the audience.

Musicals were invented in the USA. They are considered the pop versions

of operas.

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Tunes easy to sing. Diatonic harmonies. Simple structure:

The chorus usually follows a 32-bar form. The chorus has a hook. Many musicals are heavily jazz-influenced.

Intro Chorus Verse Chor

us Verse Middle 8

Chorus Verse Chor

us Verse Chorus Outro

Grabs the audiences’

attention and sets the mood for the


Ties the song off – either loud and

brassy or sad and quiet.

Has new chords and new lyrics. A change of mood

to keep the audience interested.

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SOLO CHARACTER SONG: A character sings about how they’re feeling – in love, full of hate, over the moon with happiness etc.

DUET: Duets are basically the same as solo character songs, except there are two people singing so you get two different reactions to a situation.

ACTION SONG: The words of a song tell you what’s going on in the plot – they lead you into the next bit of the story.

CHORUS NUMBER: The whole cast get together and have a big old sing-song!

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Indian Raga, African Music and Fusions

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A raga is a set of notes (usually between 5 – 8) which are combined to create a particular mood.

Raga performances are improvised.They are never written down.Ragas use a scale similar to the

Western 12-note scale.Spirituality is an important part of

almost all Indian Classical Music.

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The sitar plays the melody. A raga scale is a set of ascending and descending

notes. Sometimes the melody is taken by a singer instead

of the sitar.

The tabla plays the rhythm. Sometimes the audience joins in by clapping.

The tambura creates the harmony. This can be described as a drone. The tambura plays a simple rhythmic pattern.

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There are no gaps between the different phases – each one flows into the next.

Alap Jhor Jhala Gat or Bandhish

Slow Steady Medium Fast Moderately Fast

Soloist explores the notes of the rag (melody),

setting the mood, accompanied by

the tambura drone. Music is improvised.

Improvised music becomes more rhythmic. Music becomes more

elaborate and the tempo increases.

High point in piece. Virtuoso

display using advanced playing techniques – i.e. performer shows


The fixed composition is introduced. In the case of a vocal piece, a song, in an instrumental piece, a prepared solo. Musical

dialogue takes place between the

instrumentalist and the drummer, as well as

improvised flourishes on the prepared melodic


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Drums are the most widely played instrument in Africa.

They are used as an accompaniment for singing, dancing and even working.

They are used to call people together for important community events.

There are different drum beats for different events so people from neighbouring villages can tell what’s going on just by listening.

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It has a single head and is shaped like a goblet. It’s played with the hands. The overall size of the drum affects its pitch.

The kagan is a small barrel-shaped drum, and the kidi is a medium-sized barrel drum. Both are from Ghana.

The player holds this under one arm and hits the drumhead with a stick. The vertical strings can be squeezed and released to alter the pitch of the drum.

Dundun are cylindrical drums played with sticks. There are 3 types:• Kenkeni – high • Sangban – middle• Doundoun – deep

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Using a stick (or beater). Using hands (stroking).

Slap – hit edge with fingers apart Tone – hit edge with finger together Bass – hit centre of drum with flat hand

Dampening is resting one hand or beater on the drum whilst playing with the other.

Pitch change by tightening the skin. Strike wood instead of the skin.

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A thumb piano is a really popular instrument partly because it’s pocket-sized. It makes a liquid twangy sound.

This is made and played by the Mandingo people. It’s got 21 strings and you play it by plucking – a bit like a harp.

This is a wooden xylophone. The lumpy thing hanging underneath the keys are dried gourds. They create a warm, mellow sound.

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The rhythms are complex and based on cycles of varying lengths.

Polyrhythms and cross-rhythms are common. Performances are long and involve the audience. They can last for several hours. The audience shouts and cheers or repeats

phrases sung by the main performers – this is an integral part of the performance.

At some point, each drummer will play a solo; while he does so, he sings and dances as well.

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The blues was created when African and European music fused together. Jazz, gospel, reggae and soul all grew

out of the blues.These styles have been imitated and

developed in Western pop for years.Many African elements are so much

part of pop music that you probably take them for granted.

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In the exam, mention complex cross-rhythms, repetition, unison backing vocals and call-and-response.

Some fusion borrows from Latin American music. Syncopated rhythms: samba, tango and

rumba. Instrumentation: maracas, congas, bongos,

guiro, claves and cowbell all give a Latin feel to a song.

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Bhangra was originally a traditional style of folk dance from North India and Pakistan.

It has been combined with Western pop style to create a whole new sound.

This typical bhangra rhythm’s often combined with reggae, rap and rock.Music technology now plays a big part

in bhangra: remixes, samples, drum machines and other DJ techniques (like scratching) have now taken over from

elements of the original folk dance.

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Salsa music is a diverse and predominantly Latin American Caribbean.

An ostinato is played on a clave.Call-and-response is used between

the lead singer and chorus.Mainly primary chords (I, IV and V)

in the harmony.Harmonies are in 3rds and 6ths.

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Knowing typical composers is essential for the exam

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Renaissance (1420 – 1600) Taverner, Byrd

Baroque (1600 – 1750) Vivaldi, Purcell

Classical (1750 – 1820) Mozart, Haydn

Romantic (1810 – 1900) Tchaikovsky, Grieg

Contemporary (1900 –) Stravinsky, Walton






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If asked to describe the word setting in a piece of music, you could use: Melismatic Word painting Dotted rhythms Repetition Imitation

An ornamental phrase of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as

in plainsong or blues.

Libretto – the overall text including spoken and sung parts.

Lyrics – the words to the songs.

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MONOPHONIC: Literally means just ‘one sound’. A single musical line, but can be sung or played by many people.

HOMOPHONIC: Literally means ‘same sounds’. Melody and accompaniment style. Parts move roughly together. This is the most common type of musical texture.

POLYPHONIC: Literally means ‘many sounds’. Two or more parts playing a melody and entering the texture individually to create a contrapuntal texture. Common in Renaissance vocal music.

HETEROPHONIC: Literally means a ‘difference of sounds’. Two or more parts play a melody together but with some slight differences in pitch. This is common in Eastern musical traditions where music is learnt and played by ear (i.e. oral tradition).

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GUITAR TECHNIQUES Hammer-on Pull-off String bend/release Vibrato Slide up/down

(glissando) STRING TECHNIQUES Pizzicato Arco Portamento Sul Ponticello Harmonics

FLUTE TECHNIQUES Multiphonics Jet Whistle Quartertones Note Bending Breathy Tone VOCAL TECHNIQUES A Capella Harmony Call-and-Response Overlapping Round (Cannoned)

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A cadence is formed by two chords at the end of a passage of music.

Perfect cadences sound like the music has come to an end.

Interrupted cadences are ‘surprise’ cadences.

Imperfect cadences sound unfinished. Plagal cadences sound finished.

Plagal cadences are often used at the end of hymns and sung to Amen – this is why they are referred to as the “Amen


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Download sample papers to see their format and layout from www.edexcel.com.