A-level Music

Music A-Level is a rewarding and rigorous course, suitable for those pupils who are Grade 7 standard and above on an instrument. It suits those who want to go on to read Music at university, as well as those who would like an A-level subject with a more practical element to it and want to have a deeper understanding of how music is constructed. It further develops the skills of performing, composing, listening and analysis that were learnt at GCSE level.

Course content L6

  • Developing performance skills and choosing repertoire
  • Composition skills
  • Compositional techniques
  • Aural skills (familiar and unfamiliar works)
  • Analysis skills (set works and wider listening)

Course content U6

  • Preparation for recital
  • Composition (based on set briefs / free composition)
  • Compositional techniques (Bach chorales)
  • Aural skills (familiar and unfamiliar works)
  • Analysis skills (set works and wider listening)

Examination arrangements

  • Solo recital (8-10 minutes)
  • One composition in controlled conditions (free composition or one to a brief)
  • Compositional technique exercise completed in controlled conditions
  • Exam consisting of
    • Section A – Aural test related to set works
    • Section B – Essays related to set works and unfamiliar material

The music course requires quite a lot of wider listening, so it would be worth creating some playlists under the genre headings and starting to get to know any of the pieces below which you might find interesting:

Early Music  20th Century 
Hildegard of Bingen Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms
Renaissance  Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
Monteverdi Vespers Prokofiev Cinderella
Orfeo Shostakovitch Piano Sonatas
Madrigals Collection Preludes and Fugues
Byrd Masses and Motets Symphony no. 8
Tallis Spem in Alium Elgar Cello Concerto
Baroque  Vaughan Williams Symphony no. 8
Vivaldi Concertos Britten War Requiem
Bach Brandenburg Concertos Tippett Child of our time
St Matthew Passion Jazz / Pop 
Preludes and Fugues Miles Davis So What
Cantata 140 Wachet Auf Mingus Blues and Roots
Handel Messiah WPA Blues
Buxtehude Singet dem Herrn Donna Summer I Feel Love
Classical  Bjork Vulnicura
Mozart Marriage of Figaro Perkins Honey Don’t
Requiem Kinks Waterloo Sunset
Symphony 41 Carole King Tapestry
Piano Quartets Jay Z The Blueprint
Haydn London Symphony Fusion
String Quartets Gershwin Cuban Overture
Beethoven Symphony no. 7 Bizet Habanera from Carmen
Symphony no. 9 Sanu and Mangeshkar Tujhe dekha to
Fidelio Punjabi MC Mundian to bach ke
Romantic Gong Kebyar de Sebatu Baris Melampahan
Schubert Erlkonig Sara Tevares Xinti
An die Musik Afro Celt Sound System Release
Die Florelle Gloria Estefan Mi Tierra
Der Leiermann Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasilieras no. 2
Ethel Smyth Mass in D
Mahler Symphony no. 5
Bruckner Symphony no. 4
Puccini La Traviata
Chopin Preludes
Sibelius Symphony no. 1
Wagner Prelude to Tristan and Isolde
Die Walkure: Fern von hier
Butterworth Is my team Ploughing
Verdi Rigoletto

In terms of reading, the most useful book is Bennett’s History of Music, which gives a great overview. But if you are interested in some wider reading, then you might find chapters in the following books interesting:

Lebrecht, Norman Complete Companion to 20th Century Music
Piston, Walter Orchestration
Henze, Hanz Werner Music and Politics
Hopkins, Antony Understanding Music
Pathway to Music
Grout, Donald Jay History of Western Classical Music
Cook, Nicholas Music: A Very Short Introduction
Latham, Alison & Sadie, Stanley Cambridge Music Guide