There are four tests. From Grade 4 onwards the pieces have a melody and an accompaniment:
4.1 – Clap the pulse
You will hear a short piece played twice on the piano. Listen to the melody the first time, then clap the pulse the second time it is played, stressing the strong beat.
Stressing the strong beat means that you have to clap louder when you hear the first beat of each bar, which has a stronger sound than the other beats. Stressing the strong beat is really important because it shows the examiner that you can hear what time the music is in.
At Grade 4 you need to be able to tell the difference between 4/4 time and a type of 2 time called 6/8 time (or compound duple time). In 6/8 time the beats may easily be divided into two groups of 3, making it sound 'swingy'.
Lots of English nursery rhymes are in 6/8 time, such as Humpty Dumpty. However it is difficult to find recordings of traditional nursery rhymes on the internet because many have been 'modernised' and have lost the original 6/8 feel so please listen to the recording here instead:
Listen to this example in 6/8 time:
Listen to this example in 4 time:
E-MusicMaestro Aural Test Training asks you whether the music was in 4/4 time or 6/8 time after you have clapped the pulse so that you know whether you were stressing the strong beat correctly. The examiner will not ask if it was 4/4 time or 6/8 time in this grade.
4.2 – Major or minor key and cadence
Listen twice more to the piece, then say if the melody was in a major key or a minor key, then name the cadence.
Major or minor key
The best way of knowing if music is in a major or minor key is to listen to lots of examples. Music in a major key is often cheerful sounding, but it could still be quite gentle and plaintive. Music in a minor key often sounds sad or gloomy, but it could still be lively.
Listening carefully to the different sound of major and minor arpeggios is a good idea – it is the third degree of the scale that makes the difference eg the F in D major is sharp but the F in D minor is natural.
- An imperfect cadence sounds as if the piece has not yet ended and needs to be completed.
- A perfect cadence sounds as if the piece has finished and come to a satisfactory ending.
- Perfect and imperfect cadences happen in major keys and also in minor keys.
This piece is in a minor key and has a perfect cadence:
This piece is in a major key and has an imperfect cadence:
4.3 – Describe the interval between two notes
Listen to the first two notes of the melody and then describe the interval between them.
The examiner will play the first two notes of the melody and you have to describe the interval between them as a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th, a 5th or a 6th.
An interval in music is the distance in pitch between two notes. You count both notes, for example from G to F involves two notes, so it is called a 2nd.
Major and minor intervals
Where intervals are described as major or minor, this means that the major interval is a semitone bigger than a minor interval, for example C to Db encompasses just C and Db notes whereas C to D encompasses C, Db and D.
At this grade, an interval of a 4th will be a perfect 4th for example between C and F, and an interval of a 5th will be a perfect 5th for example between C and G.
Here are examples of the intervals you need to know:
- C – Db is a minor 2nd
- C – D is a major 2nd
- C – Eb is a minor 3rd
- C – E is a major 3rd
- C – F is a perfect 4rd
- C – G is a perfect 5th
- C – Ab is a minor 6th
- C – A is a major 6th
An easy way of remembering intervals is to play two notes, lowest first, on your instrument (use a piano or keyboard if you are a singer). Sing the notes back and think of a song that starts with these two notes. Remember which song goes with which interval!
Listen to the examples of each interval:
4.4 – Changes in rhythm and pitch
The examiner will give you a printed copy of the piece you have been listening to. When the examiner first plays the piece, it will be correct but the second time there will be one change in rhythm and also one change in pitch.
First you have to say in which bar the rhythm changed. Then you'll say in which bar the pitch changed. In the exam you could point to the bars to show where each change was made, or give the bar numbers. In your E-MusicMaestro Aural Test Training you need to tell us the bar numbers where each change happened - first rhythm, then pitch.
A rhythm change is an alteration that you could show by clapping because it does not affect how high or low a note sounds.
If there is a rhythm change, the pitch will stay the same. This tune has a rhythm change the second time it is played:
Pitch means how high or low a sound is. Remember that high is like bird song or a child's voice and low is like a lion's roar or a man's voice and it's nothing to do with volume.
If there is a pitch change, the rhythm will stay the same. This tune has a pitch change the second time it is played: