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A Level Music and Music Technology

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    Hey guys I'm currently doing music at GSCE and am thinking about going on to do music at A level and then a uni degree in music composition. I was wondering what the differences of music and music technology are at a level and what they both entail. Any help would be appreviated
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    Hello
    I'm currently doing AS Music and planning to carry on with it next year. I know a few people who study both Music and Music Tech, so I'll try my best to give you an overview of both.

    - Music seems to be more geared towards the academic side of music - you have to do a lot of theory and you study classical and jazz pieces for the exam. For OCR Music, the weightings are 40% for performance, 30% for coursework (composition and harmony exercises) and 30% for the written exam (listening and answering questions on the works you study throughout the year)

    - I don't know much about the content of Music Tech, but I've been told that it's much more geared towards the 'computer' side of music. I don't think you have to do a performance, but you do have to be able to read music for the exam. I know a major part of it is coursework, where you have to try and replicate a popular song as accurately as possible using effects etc. on the computer.

    - If you're interested in doing composition at uni, I'd recommend doing Music at A-level rather than Music Tech - the theory side of Music will be essential for a composition degree, and I think the emphasis of Music Tech is more on manipulation than creation of music.

    Hope this helps!
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    Music Tech is about using technology (mostly the computer) to create, arrange and record music. If you are into composition, it is VERY useful. At AS you replicate an existing song, learning to control computer generated sounds to make them sound like a musical performance, record an existing song to learn the skills of recording and mixing and arrange a given song in a different given style e.g. Hallelujah in Reggae style. At A2 the copying and recording tasks are extended and the third task is composing an original piece to a choice of three briefs.

    My most successful students (and two of them now work in film and TV music) are the ones who did both although many University Music Dept.s don't take much notice of Music Tech.
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    I suppose it depends what kind of composing you want to do. If it's classical stuff you're after, go for Music which will provide you with the harmonic knowledge needed. If it's more popular stuff you're after, go for Music Tech. It should be noted though, like the previous poster has stated, that a lot of Universities frown upon Music Tech unless your course is specifically music technology based.
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    I'm currently doing AS Music and AS Music Technology this year (well, just about to finish them).

    Music is a much wider timeline, mostly starting with classical music, and many different genres, expanding into world music. The most modern song we had to study was A Day in the Life, by the Beatles. It also focuses more on theory and performance, with some composition thrown in. I can't say much about it in general, since different exam boards do different things, but for Edexcel, in AS, you must:

    - Do a performance of 5-6 minutes, all recorded in one take (it can be multiple pieces, however, with literally a second's breather in between).

    - Compose a piece under 1 of 4 briefs (2 instrumental, 2 vocal) in any style, unless the question states otherwise. Typically, brief #3 (first of the vocal briefs) is the most pop-song friendly (it's what I based mine on).
    The briefs this year were, broadly:
    INSTRUMENTAL:
    1) Compose a piece under the title 'Passing Storm'
    2) Compose a set of variations
    VOCAL:
    3) Compose a song based on 'parting' or 'goodbye'
    4) Compose a 3-vocal-part song based on a ceremony, be it religious, social, whatever

    - Sit a 2 hour exam that covers about 9 set works, about 4 instrumental and about 5 vocal. They change every year. The exam also has a section on chords and lines (harmony) and writing 4-part harmony for SATB choir.

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    Music Tech is much more coursework based, although there is an exam. While reading music isn't a necessity for the course, you would struggle without it. It's about using studio software creatively. Edexcel are the only board who do Music Tech, so I can confidently tell you the three tasks for AS:

    - Recreate a given song using only MIDI (this year we had AMTV by Ladytron, but previously it's been Tainted Love by Soft Cell, Colourless Colour by La Roux and Shopping by The Pet Shop Boys). The song must sound as exact to the original recording as possible, taking into account effects (panning, etc...), instrument timbres, pitch and rhythm, and everything else. You are given a skeleton score to work from (that is, one that outlines basic parts and notable points in the music); however, the score is notorious for being wrong in places every year, so it's as much of an aural task as a visual task.

    - Record and mix a commercially-available song of your choosing, using only live instruments (No drum machines or MIDI). Includes recording it to a click, making sure there's no background noise, and balancing.

    - From 2 given songs and 2 given genres, you must pick one song and recreate it using MIDI in one genre. (this year our songs were 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' and 'Can't Get You Out of My Head', and the genres were 'Trip-Hop' and '50s Rock and Roll'. I chose to do CGYOOMH in Rock and Roll). You're given a leadsheet to work from (that is, any lead melody lines, with the names of chords given above. Unfrequently more than a page or two.)

    Then there is a listening exam at the end, where you hear unfamiliar pieces and answer questions on them (however, they're all western popular songs from about the 1940s onwards - stuff that's come up before is Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi, Frozen by Madonna, Wow by Kylie Minogue and Human by The Killers). Then, you must answer 2 sections based on 2 Focus Styles you study throughout the year (ours this year were 'Punk & New Wave' and 'Club Dance', but they change every year. I think Rock and Roll is one of the two for 2013.)

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    Might be a bit tl;dr, but I hope you find this helpful
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    Hello ThatSB, do you mind possibly sending me your CYGOOMH composition so I can have a listen? I'm the only one who chose the Rock'N'Roll style in my class, and although the Trip Hop versions have been great, it'd be nice to hear someone else's Rock'N'Roll one.

    I chose Rock'N'Roll because at the time, I wasn't familiar enough with Trip Hop, and Rock'N'Roll has a very 'definite' style. You just know exactly what it is, when you hear it, which is what drove me towards it. Now, I know a lot more about Trip Hop and I actually have some Massive Attack and Portishead on my iPod now.

    I can send you mine if you want :P I just wanted to see what someone else's approach would be like.
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    (Original post by Mollymod)
    Hello ThatSB, do you mind possibly sending me your CYGOOMH composition so I can have a listen? I'm the only one who chose the Rock'N'Roll style in my class, and although the Trip Hop versions have been great, it'd be nice to hear someone else's Rock'N'Roll one.

    I chose Rock'N'Roll because at the time, I wasn't familiar enough with Trip Hop, and Rock'N'Roll has a very 'definite' style. You just know exactly what it is, when you hear it, which is what drove me towards it. Now, I know a lot more about Trip Hop and I actually have some Massive Attack and Portishead on my iPod now.

    I can send you mine if you want :P I just wanted to see what someone else's approach would be like.
    Haha, same reasons as me for choosing Rock'n'Roll xD

    Unfortunately, I don't have the file with me. Mine was basically drums, bass, guitar and brass. Swung the rhythm, sped it up and put in solos, basically.
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    (Original post by ThatSBKid)
    Haha, same reasons as me for choosing Rock'n'Roll xD

    Unfortunately, I don't have the file with me. Mine was basically drums, bass, guitar and brass. Swung the rhythm, sped it up and put in solos, basically.
    That's cool. Pretty much the same as me, but I added a stop chorus too. So glad coursework is done now

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