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Analysing the Given Opening

Every note or symbol that you write should have a justification. Each note should be:

  • Connected to something else (a strong, audible similarity to previous material)
  • A contrast to something else (creating variety), or
  • Structural (e.g. to create a cadence or key change)

Find out the Characteristic Features of the Given Opening

1) The rhythm. What sort of note values have been used- long, short, dotted, a mixture? Is there anything “unusual” (e.g. triplets)? Are rests a feature?

2) The melodic intervals. Does it move by step or leap? If both, is there more of one type or is it evenly balanced? Does it use any unusual leaps such as an octave, 7th, or augmented 2nd? Are any of the notes chromatic alterations, or do all the notes belong firmly to the key?

3) The harmony. Which chords would underpin the given opening? How quickly does the harmony seem to change? Are the chords used straightforward, or do they have something interesting added in, such as chromatic alterations?

4) The performance directions. What speed is it going at, and what’s the general character of the piece – lively, sad, romantic, aggressive, something else? Do the dynamics change gradually, or are there rapid contrasts? What dynamic level has the music reached by the end of the given opening? What sort of articulation has been used?

ABRSM Grade 8 example composition