GCSE Music
Music is constantly evolving, inspiring creativity and expression in a way that no other subject can. This new GCSE brings theory, listening and composition to life in new and engaging ways, and links to the world around us like never before. We know that every student has different learning styles and musical tastes, and this course values all music styles, skills and instruments. We hope that this course will broaden our students’ minds and foster a love of all music with a qualification that students of all abilities and backgrounds will enjoy.

Why Choose This Subject At GCSE?

Developing and applying the musical knowledge, understanding and skills set out in this new GCSE specification can ensure that students can form a personal and meaningful relationship with music.

Students are encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of music and musical contexts, and reflect on how music is used in the expression of personal and collective identities.

Summary of the Course

Core Content 1

The areas of study provide an appropriate focus for students to appraise, develop and demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of musical elements, musical context and musical language. The four areas of study can also provide a rich source of material for your students to work with when developing performance and composition skills.

There are four areas of study:

  1. Western classical tradition 1650–1910
  2. Popular music
  3. Traditional music
  4. Western classical tradition since 1910.


Core Content 2

Students must be able to perform live music using one or both of the following ways:

  • instrumental (including DJ)/vocal
  • production via technology

One performance must be as a soloist and one piece must be as part of an ensemble lasting a combined minimum of four minutes. The performance as part of an ensemble must last for a minimum of one minute. The recording of the performances must be accompanied by one or more of the following documents, as appropriate to the type of performance:

  • notated score
  • lead sheet
  • guide recording
  • annotation (production only)


Core Content 3

Students must learn how to develop musical ideas, including extending and manipulating musical ideas, and compose music that is musically convincing through two compositions.

The combined duration of the compositions must be a minimum of three minutes. Both compositions must be assessed on the student’s ability to demonstrate:

  • Creative and effective selection and use of musical elements
  • Appropriate selection and use of musical elements (to the compositional intention)
  • Technical and expressive control in the use of musical elements.

Each composition must demonstrate selection and use of at least four types of musical element as follows:

  • at least two of rhythm, metre, texture, melody, structure, form
  • at least two of harmony, tonality, timbre, dynamics, phrasing, articulation.
gcse music

How is This Subject Assessed?

Core Content 1

Exam paper with listening exercises and written questions using excerpts of music. This component is worth 40% of GCSE marks (96 marks).

Core Content 2

A minimum of four minutes of performance in total is required, of which a minimum of one minute must be the ensemble performance. This component is 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks).

Core Content 3

A minimum of three minutes of music in total is required. This component is 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks).


AQA Music (8271)

music GCSE