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    Music paper help (available) + advice SryanBruen

    There are two kinds of exams for Music at JC whether it is Higher or Ordinary level.

    Practical (taken in March or April of the exam year) - you play an instrument / vocals (singing) and at OL, you play / sing 2 pieces. At HL, you play / sing 4 pieces. For this, you need to play at least one instrument. The teacher will decide what instrument she / he wants her students to learn 'cause though I learn Piano outside of school, I am forced to learn Recorder by my teacher for the exam. She won't let me play the Piano for the exam so Recorder I have to learn. So no, you don't need lessons. The teacher will give you all the lessons you will need to feel comfortable playing the instrument on the exam day. It is worth 25% of your overall mark whilst the paper is worth 75%.

    Paper - as like every other exam paper, this is taken in June of the exam year. The layouts of each paper are


    Q1 - Set Songs

    Q2 - Set Works

    Q3 - Irish Music

    Q4 - Dictation

    Q5 - Chosen Songs & Works

    Q6 - Triads

    Q7 - Melodies

    Q8 - General Study


    Q1 - Set Songs

    Q2 - Set Works

    Q3 - Irish Music

    Q4 - Dictation

    Q5 - Chosen Songs & Works

    Q6 - Triads

    Q7 - Melodies

    Q8 - Chord Progressions

    Q9 - Free Composition

    Q10 - General Study

    Okay I'm gonna go through parts individually of the paper.

    Set Songs - There are 3 groups of Set Songs (A, B & C) and they swap over each year. For example, in 2013 Group B was examined, in 2014 Group C was examined and in 2015 Group A was examined. So, in 2016, Group B will be examined. There are a good few features of each song in the book but the teacher will tell you which ones are important and you write down in your copy. Set Songs take up 10% of your paper exam.

    Set Works - Very similar to Set Songs. There are 3 groups of Set Works and they swap over each year. So I will not go into detail because they are literally the same thing except they're works.

    Irish Music - Irish Music is the hardest section to learn. You must have a good knowledge of Irish Music whether it is Irish traditional instruments, types of Irish singing (sean-nós for example) or Irish artists such as Bill Whelan or Seán Ó Riada. You must know the types of Irish dances, features of them, know at least THREE artists involved in Irish music and some of their works. Example of a question that came up this year to make things less confusing of the artist thing:

    Write a brief note on ONE of the following:

    ∎ Seán Ó Riada ∎ Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin

    ∎ Sharon Shannon ∎ Bill Whelan

    ∎ Turlough O’Carolan ∎ Denis Hempson

    Irish Music takes up 13% of the overall paper.

    Dictation - In this section, you listen to a tape and finish off the melody that is playing on it - thus DICTATION. You have three choices of writing down your answer. Either the actual melody on the stave, the tonic solfa names or a combination of stick notation and the tonic solfa names. This is HL dictation. Whilst at OL, you put in the missing music information on the stave. For example of a question that came up this year,

    A Write in the TIME SIGNATURE

    B Add stems and beams, where appropriate, to complete the RHYTHM

    Dictation takes up 13% of the overall paper.

    Chosen Songs & Works - For preparation of this, your teacher will choose EIGHT choice songs and SIX choice works and you must learn off TWO features of each which the teacher will tell you to write down as well as the category - which will be on the paper and you name your choice song OR work (comes up different every year, so it could be a song or a work) in the category named at the top. For example of a HL question,

    Theme and variations in the classical or Irish repertories, or a jazz movement

    A Name your CHOSEN WORK in this category and its COMPOSER. (Do NOT name one of

    your set works, namely Water Music, William Tell Overture or Carmina Burana here.)

    (i) Chosen work: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    (ii) Composer: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    B (i) Briefly describe the THEME of your chosen work.

    (ii) Explain ONE way that the composer varies the theme in this work.

    Choice Songs & Works take up 13% of your exam paper. And however, this is not the only question on it. You must know good Music vocabulary. For example, parts C-G are about songs or works that you may not have heard before - so you're given questions on them such as:

    The texture is . . .

    ∎ monophonic ∎ homophonic ∎ polyphonic

    You must prepare very well for this question and learn as much Music vocabulary as possible.

    Triads - This is a fairly easy question once ya know how to work out chords. You are given a piece that you may not have heard before - this time it is not played on tape and is instead written on the paper and you answer questions on it. The layout of the questions is very similar every year and rarely changes.

    A What are the LETTER NAMES of the three notes at X?

    B These notes form the triad of . . .

    ∎ D major ∎ C minor ∎ G major ∎ B minor

    C This triad, written on the BASS stave is . . . (it won't let me put in the triads here, but you pick between 4 different ones)

    D Select ONE of the following bars where this triad fits the melody:

    ∎ bar 2 ∎ bar 8 ∎ bar 10 ∎ bar 15

    Before you answer any questions, make sure you figure out the key (by reading the key signature) and then work out your chords. After that, then you're ready to answer the questions. OL is not much different:

    A What are the LETTER NAMES of the three notes at X?

    B These notes form the triad of ∎ D ∎ G ∎ C

    C This triad is ∎ major ∎ minor

    D Select one bar where the same triad fits the melody. ∎ bar 2 ∎ bar 8 ∎ bar 15

    Melodies - You get a choice of 3 questions. A is a phrase set to a given text. So you're given a 4 line verse from a poem or something and the examiner has already completed the first 2 lines for you. Now you have to follow the guidelines such as:

    1 Write a RHYTHM pattern to match the remaining words of the verse.

    2 Add suitable MELODY notes in the key of F for this rhythm.

    3 End on the KEYNOTE, that is, DOH.

    4 Insert the words or syllables underneath the correct notes

    and finish off the verse with your composition skills - this takes good skill and you have to have a good experience of writing melodies or songs. B is a phrase set to a given opening. So you're given an opening bar of notes and again you must follow guidelines given and finish it off using your composition skills. C is an answering phrase. You must follow the guidelines again and compose a melody different to that of the one above in the part on the paper. Remember you have a choice of 3 and you do ONE. OL is only slightly different. A is a phrase set to a given rhythm. So you compose a suitable melody to match the rhythm in the key given and follow the guidelines. B is a phrase set to a given opening - not different. C is an answering phrase and is not different than HL either. Melodies takes up 12% of your paper at HL. At OL, it takes up 20% of your paper and so is very important, especially for OL.

    HL questions only

    Chord Progressions - Like Melodies, you're given a choice of 3 questions and you do only ONE. Part A is that you're given an uncompleted piece and you follow the guidelines and complete it. You must have a perfect understanding of the types of cadences for this section btw. Part B is very similar to A. Part C, you fill in boxes as you follow guidelines about backing chords. This question can be very confusing if not studied properly. Chord Progressions take up 15% of your exam - if you're doing HL.

    Free Composition - This is only for students who have an exceptionally good experience of writing songs and I really mean extremely! Only students also not answering Qs 6-8 (Triads, Melodies & Chord Progressions) answer this. In this part, you are given a choice of 2 questions and you answer ONE. Each carries 100 marks and carries 33% of your exam paper - if you're doing HL, so be very careful and try not make a mistake at all if you do this section. Part A is setting one of the given verses to your own original music. Part B meanwhile is composing a piece to illustrate the mood of one of the given texts. This section is very rarely taken and nearly all students take Qs 6-8. So unless you have very good songwriting skills, make sure to not answer this question. If you want to do this question, tell your teacher.

    Last section of both HL AND OL

    General Study - Choose one of the FIVE categories of music and study TWO pieces from that time. Make sure you know the title and the composer or performer of both of your pieces and know THREE musical features of the pieces in good detail. General Study takes up 7% of your overall paper at both levels. Remember don't think that this section is not that important because of the very low marks. You could get around 40% on the other sections but this easy enough section could get you up to 47%.

    Make sure most of all that you know at least basic music theory - reading music, types of notes, keys (C Major, G Major, D Major, A Major, F Major, Bb (flat) Major and Eb (flat) Major - these are all the keys you should know for JC). You don't have to get Music lessons outside of school for an instrument but it is better to 'cause then you will be ahead of the class and know more than them and thus, you are expected to earn better grades than them.

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      Do you have any notes on Question 3 part D? We haven't done all of the "write a brief note on" in school, so I'm not really sure what notes could potentially come up. Thanks.

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