Music AQA

Course Outline and Content

There are three components and four areas of study:


Component 1 – Understanding Music

Component 2 – Performing Music

Component 3 – Composing Music

Areas of study:

AOS 1 – Western Classical Tradition 1650-1910

AOS 2 – Popular Music

AOS 3 – Traditional Music

AOS 4 - Western Classical Tradition since 1910

Understanding music is a listening examination and performing and composing are coursework components. All components use the areas of study.

Understanding Music – Examination 40%

This is a listening examination in two parts. Part one is where you will answer questions on unfamiliar music from the four areas of study. You will be expected to identify and accurately describe:

  • Musical elements
  • Musical contexts
  • Musical language including being able to read staff notation

Part two is where you will critically appraise the study pieces from AOS 1 and one other AOS (we will do AOS 2). This will include being able to write about why the piece was written, how the composer uses musical elements to make the piece successful and to describe the piece using the correct terminology for the genre of the music.

This is the music you will study. It will help massively if you can begin to listen to this music on YouTube or Spotify (etc.) before September.

AOS 1 – Western Classical Tradition 1650-1910

Coronation anthems and oratorios of Handel

Orchestra music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven

Piano music of Chopin and Schumann

Requiems of the late Romantic period

Study piece

Haydn Symphony No101 in D Major (The Clock), Movement 2

AOS 2 – Popular Music

Music of Broadway 1950s – 1990s

Rock music of the 1960s & 1970s

Film and computer gaming music 1990s – present

Pop music 1990s - present

Study piece

The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Tracks: With a Little Help from My Friends; Within You, Without You; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

AOS 3 – Traditional music

Blues music from 1920-1950

Fusion music incorporating African and/or Caribbean music

Contemporary Latin music

Contemporary folk music of the British Isles

AOS 4 - Western Classical Tradition since 1910

Orchestral music of Copland

British music of Arnold, Britten, Maxwell Davies and Taverner

Orchestral music of Kodaly and Bartok

Minimalist music of Adams, Reich and Riley

Performing Music – Coursework 30%

You must produce a live performance of a minimum of four minutes. One minute must be an ensemble performance and you must have a solo performance. You can play any style or genre of piece. Your performance need not be related to the AOS.

You can perform either:

Instrumental including vocal/DJ

Production via technology (sequencing and recording using a computer and recording studio)

Composing Music – Coursework 30%

You will produce two compositions with a combined minimum length of three minutes.

Composition One – to a brief set by AQA

Composition Two – free composition; you set your own brief

The style and genre of the music you compose is entirely up to you and need not relate to any of the AOS.

You must ensure your music employs four types of musical element

Two from: metre, rhythm, texture, melody, structure, form

And Two from: harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing, articulation

For further information see

Dr N Carey


For KS3 assessment criteria please click here.

Music Y7 and Y8