You're studying for the ABRSM Grade 7 Music Theory exam. You know that there will be a composition to write, but what is expected of you exactly? How do they judge something which seems to be so subjective? What are you supposed to do with the piano accompaniment, or series of chords printed on the page? And how do you know if your composition is any good?
This course reveals all!
The ABRSM examiners are looking for evidence in your composition, that you have a good knowledge of music theory and can apply that knowledge by creating a piece of music, in a silent exam room, with no access to a piano.
You'll need to demonstrate your skills in crafting a melody which has a strong harmonic foundation - either because it fits the given harmonic framework in the form of a piano accompaniment, or because it's based on a series of given chords, or you have created that framework yourself.
You're also tested on your compositional skills at manipulating melody - adapting ideas to create new music which is fundamentally related to the original ideas and a sound knowledge of the instrument you are writing for is, of course, essential,
You will learn:
How you will learn:
About your teacher:
I graduated from the University of Leeds (UK) in 1995 with a BA Hons degree in music, specialising in musicology, and I'm also a qualified teacher.
In this lecture you'll learn about the two composition types which appear in the ABRSM grade 7 music theory exam paper, what the difference between them is, and how you can choose which one to do.
Important: how to understand the chord notation used in this course.
Download the PDF notes for this course here, so that you can add your own notes as you follow the course.
Find out what the examiners are looking for in your composition, and how marks are allocated.
Your melody needs an excellent shape and direction - find out what that means here.
Instruments: learn the essential facts about instrument ranges, sweet spots and instrument-specific considerations.
Learn about conjunct and disjunct motion, and how to use melodic sequences.
Learn how to create a strong rhythmic structure.
Some concrete tips to follow to help ensure you write a strong melody.
How to hear printed music in your head.
The ABRSM requires your composition for question 3a to be "grammatically correct". Find out what that means, and how to succeed.
In question 3a you need to write your composition in a Romantic style. Learn about who the Romantic composers were, what the style is like, and how to get really good at knowing what makes a piece Romantic.
Follow the steps in this plan to create a great composition for question 3a.
What you need to notice about the key, time, composer and instrument.
How to work out the harmony of the accompaniment for question 3a.
The audio for this piece is provided as a download attached to this video. The extract is taken from Schubert's song "Am Feierabend" from "Die Schöne Müllerin", Op.25.
To make your melody agree with the harmony of the provided accompaniment, you need to think about including chord notes and non-chord notes too. This lecture explains how to do this.
Why it's important to notice similarities and differences within the accompaniment and given opening.
How to look at the melodic and rhythmic aspects of the given opening.
Part of your planning should include a look at how the individual parts combine together to make a whole piece. Then, what should you do with this information?
Decision time - making a checklist.
In this lecture you can watch me go through the first stage of planning in a worked example - taking a look at the given opening and working out the basic harmony.
In the second stage of planning, we look at how the chords are connected to key and modulations, and which aspects of the given opening we can (and should!) incorporate into our own melody.
Watch me work through a real composition, with explanations for each note I choose.
A quick introduction to question 3b.
How to understand and use the given chord progression in question 3b.
How to make your own convincing chord progression, when one isn't already provided.
What is "form" and why do you need it?
Why some notes need accidentals, and how you can use accidentals chromatically to make your composition more interesting.
"This course was absolutely first rate in every way. Ms. Williams presented the material clearly, thoughtfully, and with an obvious love of teaching. The only way this could possibly have been any better is to have had the privilege of studying with her in person. I'm amazed by how much information I learned -- and in such an enjoyable way! Ms. Williams is someone who not only has a deep understanding of music theory, but a rare and wonderful creativity that makes her such an effective teacher of it. Bravo and thank you!"
Victoria graduated from the University of Leeds in 1995 with a BA Honours in Music, specialising in Musicology. She also holds the AmusTCL diploma in Music Theory, from Trinity College London, with distinction.
Since 2007, Victoria has been teaching music theory online and by email via her acclaimed website MyMusicTheory, offering free music theory tuition following the structured syllabus of the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music).
Victoria teaches all ABRSM levels, from grade 1 (beginner) up to grade 8/diploma (undergraduate level) and has an in depth knowledge of both the syllabus requirements and examiners' marking schemes. As well as teaching the ABRSM syllabus, Victoria is equally at home preparing students for the Trinity Guildhall exams, the Australian AMEB exams and the AP Music Theory exams taken in the USA.
Victoria's lessons break the tricky concepts of music and music theory down into easy-to-understand steps. She approaches teaching from the learner's point of view, building up on existing knowledge little by little, and avoids the “baffling with detail" stance taken by traditional music theory text books. She has an outstanding track-record with her students' exam successes, with the vast majority gaining top rated “merits and distinctions" from the ABRSM.
Victoria is an accomplished pianist and clarinettist, holding ABRSM grade 8 in both, and also composes in her free time. She has three children and two crazy cats.