GCSE Music Unit 3 (42703) Guidance

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1 GCSE Music Unit 3 (42703) Guidance Performance This unit accounts for 40% of the final assessment for GCSE. Each student is required to perform two separate pieces of music, one demonstrating solo/it skills, the other group performing skills. Each performance is marked out of 30 (maximum 60 for the unit). The performances will be recorded and assessed internally by the schools or college at the time of performance, and then submitted for moderation. The assessment of performances may be undertaken at any time during the course and should be recorded at that time. Performances can be assessed on a number of occasions with the best work being selected for submission in the coursework. All assessments must be made live by the assessing teacher at the time of recording. However, in line with current practice and mindful of the difficulties encountered by small departments, where the assessing teacher accompanies the students in the assessed performance, the live assessment will need to be reviewed from the recording so that a fair and accurate assessment can be made. For moderation purposes, a copy of the music for each of the performances should be submitted with the Candidate Record Form (CRF). Where there is no music copy, a clear annotation should be provided in the form of a written account of the piece, a graphic score, or a lead sheet, so that the nature of the work to be interpreted is clear. If none of these is available, an original CD recording of the piece performed should be submitted instead. Managing Assessed Performances It is important to keep all recordings of assessed performances throughout the course, in case problems towards the end of the course prevent performance assessment at that time. This could be approached by undertaking performances throughout the course, assessing and recording these performances on each occasion. In the last few months before the deadline, the assessed performances could all be reviewed and the best work selected. Schools and colleges may wish to record students performing during a school concert, in a church or other venue. In these cases, a method of recording is necessary which gives good quality (while of course causing the minimum of stress to assessing teachers and to students). It is essential to make a back-up of all performance recordings and assessments in case of hardware failure or items getting lost in transit to the moderator.

2 Individual Performance For their Individual Performance, students choose from one of two options, acoustic or technology-based. (i) Acoustic performance The music can be: an unaccompanied solo (where this is the intended nature of the piece) an accompanied solo a performance where the student has a substantial solo part (but which doesn t fit into the previous category). The specification defines an individual performance as one person playing/singing/ maintaining an independent melodic/rhythmic part and this includes rapping in all its forms and turntablism. Whilst the majority of instruments played require no further clarification, some may well do so. Hand bells and Beat Boxing for example, would be acceptable, but there are some performances which may be inadvisable choices. With Church Bells, Kazoo and Jews Harp, for example, consideration should be given to just how highly the students could be marked given the limitations of a performance in terms of accuracy of pitch, communication and interpretation (how the student observes the composer s expressive and performance directions). Backing tracks are allowed. Doubling of the student s part is permissible where this is musically appropriate, is in line with the conventions of the chosen genre and does not obscure the part to be assessed. However, doubling is acceptable only if the student s part can be easily discerned aurally without affecting the balance and if the student s part is clearly audible to the teacher and moderator. Where a student s part is doubled on, say, a keyboard within the same group and the student is obviously relying on this doubling to support his/her performance, this must be reflected in the marking. There is the opportunity for students to offer performances of Rapping and Turntablism and the following points may prove useful. Rapping The performance is assessed using the same criteria as other solo instruments and therefore it is important that consideration is given to the wording of the assessment criteria in the specification. Although lyrics are not assessed offensive language is not acceptable. 2 of 8

3 Turntablism/DJ ing A dance single record is 4 5 minutes long and the performance should reflect this where possible. On the CRF, the teacher will need to write details of what the student has controlled, such as EQ, effects (delay etc) on the mixer, in order to give as much information as possible to the moderator. Students should consider the following features in Turntablism/DJ ing performances: Beat matching the use of cross fader, with matching phrases, especially in Hard House style choosing similar genres the choice of pieces so they work together particularly pitch if the two pieces are not in time when playing it can be adjusted +/- to match; the pitch can also be altered to match the fader can be used to emphasise/match the beat there could be a spin back to finish the performance tricks could be used such as in Hip-hop slowing it down, House off and starting up, EQ use with the beat. Scratching short loops spinning over the top rhythm and pulse is important and thinking of the deck as an instrument to make rhythms coordination between cross fader and scratching on deck 2 to add interest to deck 1. Overall the use of the mixer the use of the cross fader the use of pitch bend for beat matching the use of EQ this needs to be adjusted to make the performance seamless the use of effects the use of scratching techniques spin back perhaps at the end to finish the whole thing off/go to other deck ending can just turn it off or use spin back linking this with the fader. CD decks are available and can be used instead of vinyl decks. 3 of 8

4 (ii) Technology-based performance The performance involves the use of a sequencer and/or multi-track recorder and then manipulating the inputted data to gain a satisfactory performance as described in the assessment criteria. There should be a minimum of three parts and the student must perform at least one of the parts acoustically or, if using a sequencer, in real or step time. As the music can be input in real or step time, this can be done using just a mouse/qwerty keyboard, as what is being assessed is the final performance after the data has been manipulated by the student. An original recording could be sent to the moderator for comparison. Full details of the equipment used, along with the recording process should be given on the CRF. In producing a sequenced performance students should consider the following: Quantizing Choice of piece Appropriate timbres Effects/expression Overall quality if this is done too heavily then it sounds mechanical and marks could be lost this may well require some teacher guidance, but can be simple, perhaps a Beatles song or a Folk Song the chosen sound for the melody needs to be carefully considered as, for example, strings sounds tend to have a delay, while wind sounds do not and therefore might be more suitable to try and get away from a mechanical feel to the performance there needs to be evidence of expressive detail, such as using modulation and pitch bend, particularly with the vocal lines. The drum and bass lines can be mechanical care needs to be taken with dynamics, balance and producing a tidy recording with a defined start and finish with evidence of editing. In terms of the actual recording consideration will need to be given to the following: Capture Balance/blend Effects Panning Overall presentation where sounds have to be captured, the use of the correct microphones is important, along with their positioning and the overall control of the dynamics (gain control) there needs to be a good balance between the tracks, including treble and bass there should be due consideration of the style of the music in the effects being used this will give clarity to the performance the final product should be tidy, with no gaps in the recording and consideration given to volume levels, a neat start (with no long lead in) and finish and the avoidance of mains hum. 4 of 8

5 Group Performance Group performances must consist of two or more live players including the student. Duets are permissible where the student takes on the roles of both melody player/singer and accompanist/singing a secondary part in the course of the performance. Should the student choose to perform as part of a larger ensemble, their part must be clearly identifiable aurally to both the teacher and the moderator. It should be remembered that there is a mark for Sense of Ensemble; the student must be able to show responsiveness to the other members of the group, influencing its playing where necessary. Where a group performance consists of a singer/instrumentalist with accompanist, there should be sufficient opportunity for the singer/instrumentalist to show evidence of true rapport with and real responsiveness to the other performer in terms of adjustments to pitch/intonation, rhythm, tempo, dynamics and balance. This should be reflected in the mark awarded for Sense of Ensemble. Where a student s part is doubled, perhaps in a larger ensemble, it will be very important that the part can be clearly heard on the recording sent to the moderator it will not be sufficient for the teacher to be able to witness this whilst assessing the performance and for it not to be evident on the recording sent for moderation. Miking up individual students is not satisfactory as balance within the group cannot be accurately assessed. Where a student s part is doubled on, say, a keyboard within the same group and the student is obviously relying on this doubling to support his/her performance, this must be reflected in the marking. Depending on its effect on the performance, doubling could affect the marking in any or all of the following areas of the assessment criteria: Accuracy, Communication and Interpretation and Sense of Ensemble. Group performances may be conducted. Ideally the teacher assessing the group performance should not be part of the group (as accompanist/other part in piano duet, conductor). However, in line with current practice, and mindful of the difficulties encountered by small departments, where the assessing teacher accompanies the students in the assessed performance, the live assessment will need to be reviewed from the recording so that a fair and accurate assessment can be made. Rapping could be accepted as part of a group performance as could Turntablism, for example where the student is scratching to other parts that are being played live. The assessment criteria are the same as for other group performances. Backing tracks are also permitted in group performances, but there must always be a minimum of two live performers including the student within the group performance. Teachers and students should also be aware of the possible limitations imposed by the use of a pre-recorded backing track on matters of rapport and responsiveness. 5 of 8

6 Assessment Acoustic performances Performances should be no longer than five minutes but no minimum duration is given. However, very short pieces are less likely to enable the student to demonstrate the skills described within the higher mark bands. The assessment falls into four categories: Level of Demand Accuracy Communication Interpretation Level of Demand In order to differentiate between students more by the overall playing of the music than by its level of difficulty, the percentage of marks awarded to Level of Demand is just 10% (3/30). This should encourage students to perform pieces which are within their comfort zone technically and in terms of communication and interpretation, as they can gain up to 27 marks in these areas. Students can play and sing at the same time (eg voice and piano or voice and guitar) and this will be assessed holistically. Accuracy This refers to pitch and intonation (where relevant) and rhythm as well as the overall fluency of the performance. Communication Here, the student s ability to play/sing the music with confidence and commitment, ensuring a well projected performance, is assessed. This is an area where the wisdom of choosing a piece which can be played without worrying whether technique will impair the performance will be demonstrated. Interpretation All music is written within a particular style and genre and there are various conventions which will apply. Here, the student should be able to demonstrate understanding of these conventions and their application. To gain the higher marks, this needs to be demonstrated in a mature manner within the performance. 6 of 8

7 Rapping performances Level of Demand The following can affect the level of demand: the rhythmic complexity and the speed of delivery how elaborate the final result is. Some students will prepare/perform their own backing this does not have to be a simultaneous recording and it will be necessary to provide clarification: obviously only the live performance can be assessed where they play and rap at the same time. Accuracy For accuracy the words must work with the rhythmic backing and the fluency of the performance will affect the mark awarded. Communication The clarity of the performance is important as is the degree to which the student is involved in the music how well do they impose themselves on the performance? Interpretation The following should be considered: the clarity of diction the variety of the dynamics performing at an appropriate tempo how well the expressive qualities are demonstrated. Turntablism/DJ ing performances Level of Demand Some guidance when deciding this mark. Mark 0 Two records that are just beats, primitive Hard House, loops/drums/samples Matching one record to another, not much happening with the bass lines, harmony and texture, but using the cross fader and EQ. More complicated music with clear bass lines, more parts and more complex texture such as trance, funky house, hip-hop (not clearly defined where the records start). The choice of pieces needs to be more imaginative, with more content and many things going on at once. 7 of 8

8 Accuracy The accuracy of the beat matching and use of the cross fader will be important features here. Communication The choice of the pieces will affect how well the performance is communicated. There will need to be a logical transition between the records. Interpretation The use of effects, EQ and cross fading techniques will be taken into consideration when marking this aspect of the performance. Assessment of Technology-based performances Assessment is based on the student s ability to manipulate the data recorded under these five headings. Accuracy of pitch and rhythm including evidence of close attention to performing and expressive detail Care taken to ensure a good balance Use of an appropriate dynamic range Use of panning to obtain a clear recording and, where necessary, to separate sounds that utilise similar frequency ranges Awareness of style required including use of effects where appropriate, such as reverb., delay Each area is marked out of six with the marks divided into three bands of two marks. Group Performances Marks for Communication and Interpretation are grouped together and marked out of nine. Nine marks are available to reflect the Sense of Ensemble shown by the student. This area covers matters such as responsiveness - the ability to react to the playing of others and to influence that playing where appropriate. Further advice can be sought from your Subject Adviser and you will be informed of who this is by AQA. 8 of 8

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