Music

Pupils follow the AQA Specification for GCSE Music. There are four units in GCSE Music and students complete them all. They learn about musical language and explore elements underlying the organisation of sound through listening to music, performing individually and in a group, composing and appraising music.

key stage 4

This specification encourages students to:

  • develop their own musical interests and skills including the ability to make music individually and in groups and to use music technology
  • evaluate their own and others' music
  • understand and appreciate a range of different kinds of music
  • actively engage in the process of music study in order to develop as effective and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds

Unit 1: Listening to and Appraising Music

Assessment is through a terminal examination marked by AQA examiners. Candidates respond to questions based on short musical excerpts drawing on music from all five Areas of Study. Recorded excerpts of music will be provided on a CD. Questions will be: 

  • objective tests  
  • structured responses  
  • extended responses. 

1 hour; 20% of the total marks; 80 marks 

Candidates explore the five Areas of Study (AoS) through the three Strands of Learning. Through their exploration of these five AoS, candidates will develop an understanding of the organisation of sound.

Unit 2: Composing and Appraising Music

20% of the total marks. 40 Marks (2 x 20) 
The task:

  • A. Candidates are required to compose one piece of music and must choose two or more of the five Areas of Study (10%). There must be a link to one of the three strands, which will be announced annually by AQA. Candidates have up to 20 hours of supervised time in which to complete the composition under informal supervision. Candidates' work must be monitored during this period by the teacher so that he/she is able to authenticate it as the candidate's own. There is no time limit in terms of the duration of the composition but candidates should be aware of the need to demonstrate sufficient development of musical ideas in the music and, as a consequence, very short pieces may not allow for this. 
  • B. Candidates appraise the process and the outcome of the composition in relation to the Areas of Study and indicate the link to the strand (10%). Candidates have up to 2 hours of Controlled Time for the appraisal which must be undertaken as an individual exercise under formal supervision. 

The strand will be published annually on the AQA website.

Unit 3: Performing Music

40% of the total marks. 60 marks 

Candidates perform individually or through ICT and as part of a group.  Each candidate should perform two different pieces: 

  • A.  one for 'Individual Performance'/'Technologybased Performance', lasting no more than five minutes, and 
  • B.  one for 'Group Performance', lasting no more than five minutes. 

Unit 4: Composing Music 

20% of the total marks. 30 marks
Creating and developing musical ideas with technical control and coherence. 
Controlled Assessment Advisers will be available to provide guidance to centres. 
The task 

  • Candidates are required to compose one piece of music which explores two or more of the five Areas of Study. This may be in any style or genre of the candidate's choosing. 

Candidates have up to 25 hours of Controlled Assessment in which to complete the composition. This must be undertaken as an individual exercise under informal supervision. There is no time limit in terms of the duration of the composition but candidates should be aware of the need to demonstrate sufficient development of musical ideas in the music and as a consequence, very short pieces may not allow for this.