There are four tests at this grade:
7A – Repeat the lower part of a melody, played twice
You will hear a key chord and then a two–bar count–in, for example 'One, two, One, two' or One, two, three, One, two, three'. Listen carefully to these because a feel for the pulse and tonality will help you to remember the lower part. There will be a single–line melody in the upper part but you have to follow the lower part and then repeat it, like an echo.
You may sing any sound, such as 'Lah lah' or you could hum or whistle if you prefer. You also have the choice of playing the lower part on your instrument. If you choose to play instead of sing, the examiner will, of course, tell you the key chord and starting note for your instrument.
How do I hear the lower part?
Given a choice, we tend to focus on the higher notes rather than lower ones and, generally, we are more used to listening to a higher melody with a lower accompanying part. However, like most skills, hearing a lower part becomes easier with practice.
When you listen to music, begin to focus on the accompanying parts much more. You can do this with almost any kind of music but you may find it much easier to hear an underneath part when it is played by a different instrument, such as in the example here by Haydn. If you enjoy popular music or jazz, try listening to the bass 'riff' and pick the notes out on your instrument or sing them.
7B – Sing the upper part of a two–part phrase while the lower part is played
You have to sing a melody from a printed score while the examiner plays a lower pitched, single line accompaniment. You will hear the key chord, starting note and pulse first then you will have a short time to prepare. When you look through the test, notice any easy scale patterns and try out the leaps in pitch. You begin singing after, again, hearing the key chord, starting note and a two–bar count–in. Don’t wait for the piano part to lead – begin as confidently as possible, aiming to keep a steady pulse and a sense of key.
This test may feel challenging if you have never sung from a score before, but the key to improving is simply to practise doing it. Joining a choir that sings from printed music is of tremendous benefit. The E–MusicMaestro Aural Tests Training programme offers examples for you to try out, with lots of help beforehand with pitching intervals.
7C – Cadences
In this test you listen to a musical phrase and decide whether the cadence at the end is perfect or imperfect or interrupted.
What is the difference between a perfect, imperfect and interrupted cadence?
You will probably recognise a perfect cadence easily because it is the only one of the three choices that sounds as if the music has finished.
Both an imperfect cadence and an interrupted cadence sound unfinished, as if more music should follow, but an interrupted cadence sounds like a musical surprise – just when you expect the music to end with a perfect cadence the last chord sounds unfinished. In an interrupted cadence, the last chord in a major key will be minor but the last chord in a minor key will be major. The chords are Chord V moving to Chord VI. Another name for an interrupted cadence is a 'deceptive' cadence. Listen to the interrupted cadence in the example.
You then have to name the chords in the cadence. Listening to examples is the best way to recognise cadences and E–MusicMaestro Aural Test Training demonstrates numerous perfect and imperfect cadences, giving you practice at identifying them accurately and supplying the correct answer if you were unsuccessful.
7C part 2 – Describe the modulation
Listen to a short piece of music, played once, and say whether it has modulated to the dominant key, the subdominant key or relative minor key.
What does modulation mean?
Modulation is when the music moves from one key, such as F major, to a different key, such as C major.
Music generally moves to a 'related' key. Related keys are :
- a key which has one more, or one less, sharp in the key signature
- a key which has one more, or one less, flat
- the relative major key or relative minor key, in which case the key signature will be the same but the change will be from major to minor or from minor to major (at Grade 7 ABRSM the examples all begin in major keys so the 'relative' change is to the relative minor only).
What does modulation sound like?
There are various ways of identifying the new key, for instance some people try to hold onto the original key note by humming it, then compare it with the new key note. You would need to be good at identifying intervals to do this.
A more musical way of deciding which key the music has modulated to might be:
- To the dominant key eg C major to G major – listen for the 'brightening' effect of the added sharp. The impression is similar to that of an imperfect cadence, but stronger.
- To the subdominant key eg C major to F major – listen for the 'downward' effect of the added flat. The impression is a little like that of a perfect or plagal cadence.
- To the relative minor – simply listen out for a change from major to minor tonality.
7D – Listen and notice musical details and time recognition
You will listen to a short piece played on the piano. Afterwards you will be asked two questions. The questions are based on the musical concepts that you will have encountered at earlier grades and could be about any of the following:
- Musical Character
- Style and Period
You may like to revisit structure and texture in the Grade 6 guide.
Clap the rhythm of a phrase from the piece and then say if the piece you just heard was in 2 time, 3 time, 4 time or 6/8 time.
Once you have answered the questions you will hear a phrase from the same piece twice and then clap the rhythm back. Rhythm is not the same as pulse. Whereas pulse stays constant, rhythm patterns change. Rhythm is one of the musical elements that helps you to recognise a tune you know – try clapping the rhythm of a well known tune and you may find that someone listening can identify it!
After you have clapped the rhythm you will say if the piece was in 2 time, 3 time, 4 time or 6/8 time. It helps if you had decided on 2 time, 3 time or 4 when you first heard the piece, but if you didn't make up your mind then, hearing the phrase to be clapped will help you.
What is 6/8 time?
6/8 time is sometimes called 'compound duple' time. This is because it is in two–time so you could count, “One – two, One – two,” but the beats One and Two are made up of “One – two – three, One – two – three”. In other words, each bar is like two lots of three time. The effect is usually lively and dance–like like a jig – you could say, “diddely – diddely” in time with the beat, but it could also be a little slower and more graceful.