GCSE Revision

Long Answer Question 1

Bach & Handel

This is the first question in my Long Answer Question series. Hopefully you have seen the first part in this blog series that explains how to approach these questions. Let me explain how these question blogs will work.

This post will introduce the question and look at some of the ways of approaching it. I will give some of the key information needed to complete the question and then the question can be downloaded. This is a 12 Mark Edexcel GCSE Music style question, however it is relevant to anyone studying music.

Each question will look at two pieces of music. One of them is an Edexcel set work and the other will be an “unfamiliar” piece. These questions could easily be adapted if you are not with that board. But everything is useful in terms of studying music and Wider Listening.

Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

For every set work there are accompanying notes on the Edexcel website. It might be good to download these notes and read them ahead of answering this question. Here is the link to the Bach Set Work Notes.

But I want to add some further thoughts and some ideas for you to more fully understand this piece of music.

When learning about a piece of music it is important to understand:

  • Who Composed it?
  • When They Composed it?
  • For what reason, event or place did they compose it?
  • What is the Genre, Style & Structure of the piece?

For the Bach Set work it is crucial to have a good understanding of the Baroque Period. This piece was composed around 1720-1721. What was going on in 1720/1 that might have affected this piece of music? What was happening in music making at the time.

One way of understanding more about 1720-1721 is to listen to some other pieces composed in the same year:

  • Handel – Keyboard Sonatina in G minor, HWV 583
  • Rameau – Orphée, RCT 27
  • Giovanni Bononcini –  Cantate e Duetti

Listening to these pieces will give you even more Wider Listening work and also help you to understand the period in musical history more clearly. Once you have completed this additional Wider Listening you can start to fill out the sheet from my previous blog, this is a planning document for the Long Answer Question.

Handel Water Music – No. 5, Air

This piece is an example of an Unfamiliar piece. You may have heard it before, but, this is the term used in the Edexcel GSCE Music Exam. Firstly you need to listen to this piece of music, either on Apple Music & YouTube.

Composed in or around 1717, this piece is fairly close to the date of the Bach Set Work. This piece of music is part of a Suite, and there are three Suites in this Water Music series. A suite is a collection of orchestral pieces, often dances, and suites date back to the 14th Century.

An Orchestra Suite in the Barouque period would often have the following movements:

  • Overture – slow movement to start the suite
  • Allemande – Moderate tempo dance
  • Courante – A lively dance in triple metre
  • Sarabande – Spanish, Slow & Serious
  • Gigue – Upbeat and lively dance
  • Gavotte – Starts on the third beat of the bar, in 4/4 time.
  • Bourrée – 2/2 time Moderate tempo
  • Minuet – Triple metre dance

It might be good to read up on these dances and listen to the other pieces that make up Water Music. Here are some other pieces composed in 1717 that will support understanding even further:

  • Bach – Violin Sonata in E major, BWV 1016
  • Handel – Concerto Grosso in G major, HWV 314
  • Vivaldi – Concerto for Strings in C major, RV 114

The Question

Each question is laid out in a similar style to the Edexcel GCSE Music Section B. Feel free to adapt these questions or change the elements of music. There is a PDF document for the question that can be downloaded and filled in. A full mark-scheme is not provided, but I am sure that teachers & students can work out what should or could be included. Skeleton scores are not provided for copyright reasons.

The generic mark-scheme for this question is really useful and so I have that here for you to use:


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