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Set Works

Set works are there to introduce you to different musical and compositional styles throughout musical history. They're also meant to help you to train your eyes, ears and brain for the Aural, Melody and Harmony parts of the course.

Which works are studied?

There are two groups which rotate, each group is examined for three years at a time.

Group Group A Group B
Years examined 2011, 2012, 2013 2014, 2015, 2016
Works Bach, Cantata No.78
Tchaikovsky, Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture
Barry, Piano Quartet No.1
Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
Mozart, Piano Concerto No.23
Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique Mvts 2 & 4
Deane, Seachanges
The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's..., She's Leaving Home
& When I'm 64

What to study

Many students panic because of the amount of detail they go into with their teacher when studying the set works and wonder if and how they could possibly remember all that information. Well, no need to panic, you don't need to know that in bar 8 there is an arpeggio on the double bass! Set works are studied in detail to learn about all of their features so that, for example, if you come across one of those features again in an Aural question, you have the knowledge and ability to recognise it and describe it.

So how much of your set works should you be able to recall and explain on demand?

1. The most important thing you should learn about each set work is the
form, definition of that form, if the composer gets cheeky and deviates from the rules of that form and, if so, how and why.

2. Know the main features of the composer's style and the features of the era the composer is from. A lot of the time, these features are the same. You should also be able to give examples of these in the work you have studied.

3. Know all your themes. Be able to identify each one aurally and visually, know where and how many times each theme appears in each movement/song/piece and know the main differences between each playing of the theme. It helps a lot of students to have a memory aid for each theme (my students sing along to each theme e.g.Mozart, Piano Concerto... "Mvt I:Allegro", theme 2a: "in the evening we drink tea and scones."). Putting together theme comparison tables can be very helpful.


  Click to see examples of all of the above

It's also very helpful to have notes in your score so that you can listen to the movement/piece/song and conciously note each theme and its features as you go along, e.g. "that's theme one there played by the violins with vamping accompaniment on the lower strings"(Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique, "Un Bal", theme 1 first playing). There's no need learn off details any finer than that, but note the details in your theme comparison table. Rewrite your comparison table from scratch (referencing your score but not your notes) as a studying exercise - this will help you build up an ability to visually and aurally note musical features. It would be very useful if you could borrow a blank score from someone for this exercise.