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1.

Learn how to write a BREVE (double whole note)

A breve (or double whole note in US terminology) is worth the same as two semibreves
(whole notes). Draw an oval with two short vertical lines on each side of it.

2. The time signatures 3/2 and 6/4 are NOT the same.
Neither are 3/4 and 6/8.
Although 3/2 and 6/4 have the same overall number of notes per bar, they are stressed (and
therefore written) in a different way. 3/2 and 3/4 have three main beats per bar, but 6/4 and
6/8 have two main beats per bar.

3. The alto and tenor clefs are C clefs: they show you
where MIDDLE C is, not any old C!

4. The pattern of key signatures is the same for each


clef except the TENOR SHARPS.
The pattern for flats is the same in all clefs. For sharps, the tenor sharp clefs start LOW on
the lowest F# on the stave. Memorise the coloured patterns (there are only 2!):

5. A chords position (inversion: a, b or c) is determined


by the BASS NOTE ONLY.
Find the absolute lowest note on the stave (there may be more than one stave!) If the lowest
note is the root, its an a chord. If the lowest note is the third of the triad, its a b chord
(first inversion), if its the 5th of the triad, its a c chord (second inversion).

For example, this chord is in first inversion (b).

Write out the notes so that you make a triad they should be stacked in thirds: A-C-Eb.

Next, identify which note is the lowest C.

This is the third of the triad, so its a first inversion chord.

6. All cadences end on either chord I or V.


You will usually have to write chords for two cadences. Each cadence will need two or three
chords to complete the progression.

7. A 6-4 (Ic-Va) progression always has two IDENTICAL


bass notes.
If you have to find a Ic-Va progression, you need to look for two chords with the same bass
note, then make sure they are chords I(c) and V(a). For example, the two lowest notes of the
chord could both be Cs, but watch out they could be an octave apart!
In the key of C major, chord Ic has a G as the lowest note, and so does chord Va.

8. You will get a minimum of 5/15 just for writing a


COMPLETE composition, no matter how awful it is
If there is an upbeat (anacrusis/incomplete first bar) then the last bar needs to MAKE UP
THE DIFFERENCE.

Make sure the piece is exactly 8 BARS LONG in total. With an upbeat, you will have 7
complete bars, an incomplete bar at the start, and an incomplete bar at the end.

Bar 1 is always the first complete bar.

9. Always end your composition on the TONIC.


Look at the key signature and make sure you know what key you are writing in before you
start. End the composition with a tonic note which falls on a strong beat

10. Add TEMPO, ARTICULATION, DYNAMICS


afterwards (TADA!)
Write a tempo word in Italian above the first note. Choose something normal! Moderato is
always a safe choice.

Also add a starting dynamic under the first note (or above it, for a vocal composition).

Add slurs to quick notes (for instruments), and put them in the same way all through the
piece. Follow the main beat if you are not sure of another plan!
The beginning of a composition should always look something like this:

A tempo above the first note.

A starting dynamic under the first note.

Slurs over quick notes, broken across the main beats.

11. The only double reed instruments are the OBOE and
BASSOON.
You are tested on your knowledge of the standard orchestral instruments. The cor Anglais
also uses a double reed, but is not a standard instrument. The clarinet uses a single reed (as
does the saxophone, which is also not a standard orchestral instrument).

A Double Reed

12. Learn the Tenor Voice Clefs

The tenor voice uses either the bass clef (short score) or OCTAVE TREBLE
CLEF (open score).

The little 8 under the treble clef (see the image left) means that MIDDLE C is the one high
on the stave in a space the note in the image is middle C!
13. When writing SATB parts, make sure the note STEMS
are written the right way up.

In open score (4 staves) the


stems point up or down depending on their position on the stave.

In a short score (on 2 staves) the stems point up or down depending on the part.

The circled notes here show where the stems need to have their positions changed when you
rewrite the music.

14. Transpose a key signature in the SAME WAY that you


transpose a note.
There is nothing special about transposing a key signature, but many candidates struggle with
this task! Key signatures are transposed in the same way as notes.

The original key is G major. Lets say you have to transpose


up a perfect 5th. The note a perfect 5th above G is D, so the new key signature is D major.

It doesnt matter whether the piece is major or minor, the result will be the same. If we
assume this is actually E minor, then a 5th above E will produce B minor, which also has two
sharps.

15. If in doubt, guess!


You wont lose any marks for trying! No questions are marked with a negative point system.
Attempt every question and make sure you double check all your answers before you hand in
your paper!