GCSE Revision

Long Answer Question 4 – Queen

This is the fourth question in a series of Long Answer Questions for GCSE Music. If you haven’t completed Question 1, Question 2 or Question 3 then please do check out those blog posts. This question is going to focus on Queen and their GCSE Music Set Work “Killer Queen”.

Queen & T-Rex

This question is going to focus on two bands that were making, recording & performing music in the 1970s. This is a great era for music and I would encourage you to get to know this decade. We often spend time learning about Baroque or Classical music, but now we shift to a modern era. Despite this music being potentially more familiar, we often don’t know a huge amount about it. Students studying GCSE Music now were most likely born about the year 2000. The 1970s are therefore quite a long time ago.

Before working on this question it would be a good idea to work through the Killer Queen Set Work and also listen to lots of music from the 1970s.

T-Rex were an English Rock Band formed by Marc Bolan. Marc was a singer-songwriter and guitarist. Marc was sadly killed in a car accident in 1977 just after the release their final album. T-Rex were a Glam Rock band and therefore link perfectly with Queen. They wrote some great songs that you can read more about here.

Knowing a few key pieces of information about the band is good. However, it is more important to focus on the music. In an exam you will not be expected to know all about the unfamiliar listening track. Of course if you do recognise the music then that is great. But you will most likely focus on the music and keep the bio for the Set Work. The simple fact is that the more you listen to music the more chance you have of recognising the Unfamiliar Listening! Wider Listening is great fun and will only help in your journey as a music. Listen to music Deliberately, and in this case, focus on the 1970s!

T-Rex – 20th Century Boy

Here is the Unfamiliar listening for this question. In the exam you will only get an extract, but you can enjoy the whole song for this practise question.

Context

It is crucial for us to focus on the context, and some of this has been covered above. Here are a few points to focus on in this work:

  • 1970s
  • Glam Rock
  • Post Beatles UK
  • Rock Band Instrumentation
  • Front Man – Marc Bolan & Freddie Mercury
  • Use of Technology & Recording techniques.

Killer Queen was released in 1974 and 20th Century Boy was released in 1973. Both of these set works are therefore from the same era and have the same Glam Rock basis!

But what makes music “1970s” & “Glam Rock” that is the key question. This is the same as thinking about what makes the Bach Set Work a Baroque piece. We need to think about this in all of our studies. We also need to consider the way in which the two bands use music in different ways. Are there any similarities between Marc & Freddie?

Harmony

This question is considering the Harmony used. Here are a few things to think about in your planning. Once you have considered these features you can start working on the question:

  • What Chords are used in the songs?
  • Are there any chord patterns?
  • Do Cadences feature and have a role?
  • Are there any harmonic devices used?

Melody

Simialry we can consider the melodic features in our planning:

  • How would you describe the melody – Conjunct, Disjunct, Repetitive?
  • Are there any Melodic Ostinati?
  • Does the melody feature any significant intervals that help to define it?
  • Would you say a wide or narrow range of notes is used?
  • Are there any changes in the melody at any point during the song?

Long Answer Question Tips

In the exam, and for this task, the question is not asking us to just list the answer to the bullet points above. The question is asking us to compare and contrast essentially. Both of these songs were written int he 1970s and are both examples of Glam Rock. But what musical features do they share and what makes them different. Analysing music is all about looking at the features and then using these features to make some observations. Simply listing what we hear is not enough.

The Question

As usual you can download the question sheet here:

I hope that Long Answer Question 4 gets you thinking about the Queen set work and also some 1970s Wider Listening.

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