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A Level Pupil Information
Developing Musical Ideas

In this unit you will develop musical ideas in the form of original compositions and compositional techniques exercises.  

Study for this unit should include:

The development of a wider music vocabulary.

The use of appropriate forms of notation and/or technology to record and communicate ideas.

The cultivation of an awareness of the capabilities of different instruments.

Where possible, you are encouraged to cultivate an awareness on technological hardware and software, which may include the production of a printed score using a scorewriting package and/or the production of a recording.

Planning and evaluative skills.

Composition topics
You study ONE of the following topics.  There are opportunities to relate composition and/or composition techniques to Areas of Study (Unit 3).  

When composing in response to one of the following topics, you may find it useful to listen to some of the examples from existing repertoire, such as the following:

Variations Variations by Bach, Mozart, Haydn, twentieth-century composers might include Ives and Webern, variation-related forms might include the chaconne and passacaglia.
Romantic Miniatures Miniatures by Schumann, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Grieg.
Neo-Classicism Neo-Classical pieces by, for example, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Bartok and Shostakovitch using forms that might include dance movements, sonata structures and fugues.
Post-Modernism Works of the post-war Avant-garde, which might include the return to diatonicism (Tavaner, Gorecki and minimalism), multimedia and instillations, community projects, computer games music and Internet art.
The popular song Songs covering the development of style and form from Blues through the 32-var jazz standard (for example, Gershwin, Carole King and the Beatles) to chorus structures (for example, Tamla Mowtown and Oasis) and riff-based songs, (for example, Led Zeppelin and Joan Armatrading).
Club dance and hip-hop Tracks featuring the technical procedures of sampling, sequencing and remixing and their application to current work in addition to the historical development from early rap and club remixes.
Fusions Fusions of popular styles (which might include Celtic rock, reggae, Bhangra and salsa), examples of world music influences on popular music and jazz (which might include Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Santana) and examples of Western classical music and popular music fusions (which might include Peter Maxwell Davies, Elvis Costello).
Film and TV Synchronism, title themes, cartoons and adverts with reference to the work of composers who might include Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner and the Disney Cooperation, and to the television composers George Fenton, Stephen Warbeck and Rachel Portman.
Music theatre Songs, arias, ballads, choruses and ensemble pieces in a wide range of styles, which may include opera, experimental music theatre and musicals.

Compositional techniques
You will develop your musical vocabulary and confidence in handling compositional techniques, use appropriate forms of notation and/or technology to record and communicate ideas and gain an awareness of the capabilities of different instruments and/or technological hardware and software. 

You will choose TWO of the following topics, noting that each topic also includes a choice.  There are opportunities to relate composition techniques to Areas if Study.  Where composers are named below, this does not preclude the examiners from choosing similar works by the contemporaries of these composers.


Textures In general, the combination of melodic material and ostinati and the management of instrumental combinations.

In particular, two-part Baroque counterpoint as exemplified in the work of Corelli and Handel, or minimalism as exemplified in the work or Reich and Glass.

Chords and cadences In general, the management and grammar of chord progression and voice leading.

In particular, chorale harmonisation, in the manner of J.S.Bach, or, 32-bar song form as exemplified in the songs of Gershwin and the Beatles.

Scales, modes and series In general, the structure and associated compositional grammar of scale, modes and note rows.

In particular, Renaissance counterpoint, as exemplified in the work of Palestrina, or 12-note composition as exemplified in the work of the Second Viennese School and late Stravinksy.

Timbres In general, the management of the acoustic characteristics of instruments and ensembles and the use of technology to synthesise and manipulate sound.  

In particular, the use of extended vocal and instrumental techniques in the work of Cathy Berberian, Berio and Cage, or, the electronic manipulation of sound in the work of Brian Eno, Trevor Wishart and Stockhaussen. 

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Last Updated 18 February 2002

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