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Examiners' Reports: August 2012 Music Craft 

Preliminary Music Craft

Candidates were generally very well prepared and this was reflected in many high results.

Aural

The aural paper was well done, in the main, but many candidates lost marks by being imprecise with the placement of dynamics or articulations. Words (not signs) were required in the articulation question, again suggesting the importance of a careful reading of the question, and these needed to be placed above the note where the articulation changed.

Written

In the written paper it is important to carefully read the instructions, writing rests or notes as instructed. Numerous candidates lost marks when writing named notes because they did not use the time values required; or wrote triads as arpeggios or vice versa. Many candidates did not correctly identify the key of the excerpt in the Integrated question. Scale degree numbers, when required, must have carets. When naming Intervals, ordinals are preferred. Staccato dots must be aligned vertically with the notehead and on the opposite side to the stem. Lower case letters should be used for dynamics.

On the whole, the number of encouragingly competent responses to the paper bodes well for the future development of these musicians who sat the examination.

Music Craft Grade 1

Aural

Almost all candidates were able to answer the questions on Pitch correctly, with only a few mistaking the major third for a minor third. Rhythm and metre was also competently answered, although some candidates heard the metre as simple duple rather than simple triple.

Students found the question on Melodic contour difficult to deal with and there were hardly any accurate representations of the melody.

Dynamics and tempo was generally well answered, though the position of the forte and diminuendo in the last bar was frequently misplaced.

In Phrasing and articulation, some candidates were overly enthusiastic with the staccato markings, and a mark was deducted if students wrote the word staccato instead of the marking.

A number of students thought the instrument in the Timbre question was a clarinet, rather than an oboe, but the Set works question was usually answered correctly.

Written

Section (a) of Rhythm and metre caused a problem for most students, who did not appreciate that a whole bar rest was required in the third bar, rather than a minim rest. The biggest difficulty, however, was in section (e), where candidates were asked to explain the time signature. Students clearly do not understand compound duple, with many offering six quaver beats in the bar as an explanation.A response of ‘compound duple’ alone was not acceptable as a description.

Candidates lost marks in Pitches, scales and keys for writing the key signature incorrectly, beginning on the wrong note, and writing the scale in the wrong direction. There were also errors in sections that required marking of tones. Few marks were lost in Triads and intervals, usually through candidates forgetting to raise the 7th in G minor chord V, but students should be reminded to use ordinal numbers when naming intervals.No marks were deducted for not doing so in this grade, however.

There were some errors in Terms with the explanation of sf and the Italian term for moderately fast, but on the whole, few marks were lost.

Students were confused in Instruments about which woodwinds had reeds, how many and their range.  However, the least satisfactory answer was for how the flute produces its sounds.  For full marks, the response needed to mention (a) that the player blows across the mouth hole, (b) that this sets a column of air vibrating inside the instrument creating the sound, and (c) the pitch is controlled by opening and closing the keys.

In the question on Set works, it must be pointed out that Music Craft meanings of the terms staccato and crescendo differ from those for Theory or Musicianship, so students should make sure that they study the correct definitions.

Music Craft Grade 2

Aural

Most candidates were able to successfully identify the questions on Pitch in terms of naming scale types, interval and triad quality.Successfully writing the Melody was more problematic but the majority still did well. Just a few candidates neglected to add the bar lines to the Rhythm question.

Music Craft has a very specific vocabulary and candidates are urged to follow the directions given in the questions on adding Dynamics as marks are deducted if signs are used instead of words or if placed above instead of below the music.

Phrasing and articulation had a mixed response and very few were able to gain the full 6 marks by identifying and correctly placing the required articulations.

The two Instruments to identify included the double bass and the acoustic guitar. In the latter case, 'Spanish' or 'classical' was accepted.

Most candidates were able to successfully recognise the Set works.

Written

The first question of the Rhythm and metre section had a poor response, particularly the first part that required adding a time sign and bar lines [and many omitted the double bar line at the end, losing a mark] and the third section, adding rests. Some candidates wrote notes instead of rests. Candidates should recognise that there is a difference between 'naming' an item and 'explaining' that item. This occurred in the last part of the question and many simply named the time signature as 'compound triple' but did not explain what that means.

Writing the Scale of F# harmonic minor was generally well done, although at times the leading note was omitted. Marking the tones in the following question however, was a problem for many. As only one mark was allotted for this part of the question, one incorrect tone slur meant the mark was forfeited. Recognising the key signature of B minor presented no problem.

Triads and intervals required writing a minor 6th above A which surprisingly, many candidates failed to complete successfully. The subsequent question to identify the interval as dissonant or not, was also incorrectly answered by the majority. Identifying the number and quality of intervals presented problems, as did stating if the minor 3rd was consonant or dissonant. Note too, that if candidates wish to use the designators 'M' for major or 'm' for minor, there must be a difference between the upper and lower case letter. Writing the required triads elicited many errors, principally because the bass clef was misread as a treble clef.

The Harmony question was in a minor key, with the result that most candidates forgot to raise the leading note when using chord V. Remember too, that as with intervals, chord labelling for a minor key is different from that for a major key. Marks were lost if the labelling was given as for a major key.

The question on Terms was mostly well answered, although explaining the term ‘phrase’ was not always complete.

The main fault in the Instruments question was remembering to mark that the double bass sounds an octave lower.

In terms of the Set works, two principal problems occurred: 'explaining' rather than naming the signs and forgetting to add carets to the scale degrees which resulted in a loss of a mark.

Music Craft Grade 3

Aural

In the Pitch question, most candidates were able to accurately recognise the scales and triads; intervals, however, were not as confidently answered [in this case there were two minor intervals as well as the tritone].

However, the Melodic dictation elicited a very poor response and several candidates were unable to accurately fix even one pitch.This was unfortunate as the question was worth 10 marks.

Candidates fared better in writing the 4-bar rhythm, although a couple omitted the actual bar lines, and in recognising the polyrhythmic Texture. In the Instrument question, many candidates were unable to name the trumpet and horn or did so in reverse order. 

For Set works, candidates are urged to learn the correct titles; for instance, stating ‘Pezold's Minuet by Mozart’ could not be awarded any marks.

Written

It was disappointing to find that the overall standard of the written responses was quite poor. This grade is a difficult one and candidates need to be well prepared before attempting the examination.

Rhythm and metre, for instance, resulted in only three candidates managing to score the full 5 marks. Grouping demisemiquavers and using the correct rest in 4/2 time were the major problems.

Pitches, scales and keys produced a mixed response, although the majority of candidates passed this question. Do be careful to start on the correct note when writing scales and remember that Music Craft employs the Helmholtz system.

Transcription was mostly handled well but writing and recognising Intervals and Triads resulted in some careless errors; for instance, omitting the key sign for the E major triad.

Nearly all candidates scored full marks in the Terms question.

Responses to the Harmony and voice-leading section were by far the most problematic and cause for great concern. Many candidates simply do not have even an elementary grasp of the basic foundation for 4-part writing. The cadential 6/4-5/3 was not recognised by the majority, even though it was clearly delineated; soprano lines were very static and figuring either omitted or incorrect. Of concern was the poor voice-leading that resulted in consecutive and exposed 5ths and 8ths as well as spacing problems between the parts, particularly the tenor and alto. Very few candidates passed this particular question.  Most candidates fared better in the second part of the question, to write the full figuring to a given progression. However, it should be noted that there is a difference between labelling for minor [this particular exercise] as opposed to major and each label that was incorrect or labelled for major lost a mark. Writing a melody also resulted in a mixed response and not all pitches chosen from the indicated harmonies were successful. In a short 4-bar melody, repeating notes simply wastes a beat and causes a static area.

Instruments – writing the sounding range of the horn was correctly answered by the majority as were the questions on the Set works, although correctly recognising the dominant and cadential 6/4 chords were not accurate.

Music Craft Grade 4

Aural

Most candidates were able to accurately name the various scales and modes in the Pitch question; recognising intervals and triads, however, was very poorly done. Be aware too, that quality must be included when naming intervals. Surprisingly, nearly all candidates were unable to recognise the cadences as 'half' and 'plagal'.By far the weakest response was in the Melodic dictation question where pitch and rhythm both needed to be correct. Writing the Rhythm was far more successful and nearly all candidates were able to correctly recognise the two Instruments as gong and tambourine and the Set works.

Written

When answering the Rhythm and metre section, please read the question carefully – rests were required to complete the bars, not notes.

In the Pitches, scales and keys section, scale writing in the alto clef, as well as recognising the given mode and scale form, presented little problem. Not so though re-writing the melody for a clarinet in B flat which most were unable to complete successfully. Often if the first note was incorrect, then it followed that so was the rest of the melody.

Identifying the various Terms presented little problem; however, when answering short- paragraph questions, remember to keep the actual question in mind and to focus the answer on that question, not just to write information that may have no bearing on what has actually been asked.

At this level it is expected that candidates would be familiar with basic functional harmony and as a result, fare much better in the Harmony and voice leading section. However, this was a very disappointing section, the principal problems being poor voice leading as well as: cadential 6/4 incorrectly resolved; leading notes doubled and/or left unresolved; omitting the 3rd from the chord; incorrect doubling within chords; misspelt chords; not recognising the figuring thus resulting in wrong pitch choices. Grammatical errors were inherent in all the workings and the soprano line was often too static. Very few candidates were able to score more than 6 for this question.

Nearly all candidates made some errors in figuring the given progression. Remember when identifying a cadence to use the full name, in this case a 'perfect authentic cadence'.

In the Instruments question, very few were able to write the range of the standard xylophone. In general the Set works questions were well handled, although identifying the appoggiatura in the song was not so successful.

Music Craft Grade 5

Aural

By far the most challenging questions in this paper was the Melody dictation. Sufficient regular practice is recommended to attain proficiency in such a task at this level and beyond. In the Chord progression question, the perfect authentic cadence was sometimes identified only as an ‘authentic’ cadence, which does not differentiate between ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ authentic cadences and is therefore incorrect.

The wording of the question in the Set works question did not ask for the works to be identified, only to list any significant features of the work heard in the corresponding excerpt. A few candidates were so focused on identifying the section in quite some detail, either forgetting the features or running out of room to write anything else. No marks were deducted for identifying the works, but the requested description of features was necessary in order to score the marks. Read all instructions and the wording of questions very carefully.

Written

Rhythm and metre were mostly well handled. In Scales and keys – G sharp minor key signature in the tenor clef caught out quite a few candidates. Please note that when identifying a scale, the tonic should also be given (eg Dorian on B flat, not just ‘Dorian’).  The question on Form was well done overall.

The most popular option in the Harmony and voice-leading question was Figured bass, but the voice leading on the whole was poorly handled. It is imperative to plan a good melodic soprano line – once this happens the inner parts will then often fall into place. Disjunct voice leading, and improper handling of the leading note were unfortunately all too common here. Preparation and resolution of the various forms of seventh chords was the other area that needed better attention. Harmonising a given melody – the smaller number who chose this question did reasonably well, which is commendable given that it requires a good imagination for harmonic direction, chord inversions and bass melody. Once again, the various seventh chords were not always handled properly in terms of preparation and resolution.

In Species counterpoint, adding a second part in fourth species counterpoint was not always done according to the strict rules of this particular species. Further study is needed by most here. The analysis question (fourth species) was much better and provided few problems.

In the Beethoven excerpt of the Set works, there were some problems with key, interval and cadence identification. The Handel, Monteverdi, and Strachey and Link excerpts were generally well answered.

Music Craft Grade 6

Candidates were generally well acquainted with the wide harmonic vocabulary required for this grade, and this was reflected in some good results.

Aural

The aural paper was well done, in the main, with most errors being of a small nature such as identifying correct inversions in the chordal progression, or incorrect note values in the multimetric rhythmic dictation. Basic music literacy skills must not be forgotten at this level, such as correct beaming and stem direction, or the including of clefs and key signatures on each stave of an answer.

Written

In the written paper it is important to carefully read the instructions, answering only the number of questions required when there are options. The most common error in the Four-part harmony questions was unresolved seventh chords. In Two-part writing it must be remembered that the fourth is a dissonance and must be treated accordingly. This is also true of Species counterpoint, but this was well done with usually just minor errors, such as the omission of the raised sixth in ascending minor lines approaching the final, thus avoiding the augmented second. The Analysis proved more problematic where candidates needed to identify what key the piece (Mozart) was in at any given moment, indicating this and analysing appropriately. The modulations were usual, but candidates struggled with the concept of secondary fifths and sevenths. The inclusion of a pedal point confused some candidates too. Questions on the Set works were largely well answered, but appropriate terminology is important, such as referring to ‘subjects’ in sonata form as opposed to motives or themes, for example.

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