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Degree: Music (Bachelors) - Durham University
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The best thing you can do is to get to know the main ideas of both set pieces and predict the questions you might get asked. Ask yourself: why did the IB choose these pieces? What do they want me to say about these pieces? Your teacher will most likely provide these answers for you. Take all the concepts, everything your teacher has provided, anything (credible) you have found online, and write practice essays on each possible point. When you get to the exam, you will probably have done at least one of the questions during your revision. This applies to any IB subject.
Also, you need to get as familiar as possible with your set pieces. This might seem obvious, but if it is done well, you can ace this section of the exam. I suggest listening to them LOADS and get so familiar with the score, that in the exam you can remember exactly where/when things occur, without hearing the music physically. Some people can hear the music in their head instantly without having heard the piece before, which is pretty cool. However, some people can’t and that is completely okay. Just listen to the pieces; learn to love, or at least appreciate them. The examiners will be able to see this in your answer, which is a plus.
I would happily help you get comfortable with these pieces and will aim to answer all of your questions. This section of the exam is the one you can prepare for the most, so let’s make sure you get those marks!see more
The da capo aria is a vocal form used primarily in the Baroque Era. It is in ternary form (ABA’). The A section is in the tonic key, and the B section is often in a minor key with the mood frequently being more reflective. In the repeat of the A section (A’), the singer would demonstrate their vocal virtuosity by improvising and ornamenting the melodic line; the singer would add trills, acciaccaturas, mordents, appoggiaturas, runs, and jumps all to show off their skill as a singer. In the end of the repeated section, it was customary to add a cadenza.
The sheet music would only include the A section and the B section, with a “Da Capo” or “D. C.” in the end, signaling the singer to go back to the A section and improvise. Sometimes, the composer would realize (write out) the ornamented A section, for example “Rejoice greatly” from Handel’s Messiah, but this is rare.
The da capo aria fell out of fashion in the classical era because the focus shifted from the virtuosity of the performer to the beauty of the music. Singers would perform what was written, with ornaments being specified by the composer and not chosen by the singer.
“Rejoice greatly” from Handel’s Messiah
“Da tempeste” from Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto
“Lascia ch’io pianga” from Handel’s Rinaldo
“Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” from the cantata by Bachsee more
A listening exam is daunting. There is not a lot of time to analyse an extract, so you need to find the quickest and most efficient way to gain marks. There are many different ways to approach an extract, and you have to find a way that best suits you. I believe the first thing you need to do is pick up on clues as to which musical period the extract belongs to. By doing this, you are already searching for the features the examiners are looking for: context, instrumentation, texture, harmony, melody, function, etc.
Instead of starting from scratch, you use all you know about each musical period to aid in your analysis. Ask yourself: what is characteristic of that period? For example, let’s look at the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony no. 29 in A major.
Examples of what you can say (not a complete analysis):
Tempo: Allegro moderato
=> could be the first movement of a symphony
=> so it could be in sonata form
-> mention exposition, first subject (tonic), transition (modulation), second subject (subordinate key: usually dominant, could be subdominant, relative major if in the minor key (but irrelevant as it is clearly in a major key))
Harmony: Functional, diatonic
=> Essential for music of the classical era: the musical tension created by the modulation from the tonic to the dominant, and the need to relieve this tension by a return of the tonic
=> clear identifiable cadences (identify the cadences)
=> clear cut phrases
=> musical focus is on the melody (characteristic of the classical style)
What is expected in a classical piece: homophony (melody with accompaniment)
=> starts out homophonic with chorale like accompaniment in the rest of the strings
=> SALIENT: moves to polyphonic/fugato texture. Texture shift could signify a structural shift: first subject to transition.
=> court music
=> classical period = rise in instrumental music
-> the emergence and popularity of the symphony
I used important features of the classical era to help me in my analysis. This is particularly useful if you get stuck in the middle of your analysis. If you do this for every musical era, you will always find something to say.see more