There are four tests. At Grade 5 the pieces have a melody and an accompaniment:

5.1 – Clap the pulse and time signature

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.

Then the examiner will ask you to name the time signature.

At Grade 5 you need to be able to tell the difference between 2/4 time, 3/4 time, 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'.

By the time you get to Grade 5 you will have practised clapping in time and showing the strong beat for all these time signatures.

Listen to this example in 2/4 time:

Listen to this example in 3/4 time:

Listen to this example in 6/8 time:

Listen to this example in 4 time:

If in doubt you could go back and practise earlier grades in your E-MusicMaestro Aural Test Training programme.

5.2 – Major or minor key and cadence

After you have listened twice more to the piece, you'll be asked to describe the tonality and then to say what the cadence was.


Tonality means 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 e.g. the F in D major is sharp but the F in D minor is natural.

The tonality of the pieces at Grade 6 will do either of these two things - begin in a major key, change to minor then change back to major, like this piece:

or, begin in a minor key, change to major, then change back to minor, like this piece:


An imperfect cadence sounds as if the piece has not yet ended and needs to be completed. This is because it ends with Chord V (e.g. G major chord in the key of C major).

This is an imperfect cadence:

An interrupted cadence also sounds unfinished, but like a musical surprise – just when you expect the music to end with a perfect cadence the last chord sounds unfinished. The chords are Chord V to Chord VI (e.g. C major chord to A minor chord in the key of C major). Another name for an interrupted cadence is a 'deceptive' cadence.

A perfect cadence sounds as if the piece has definitely finished. The chords are Chord I followed by Chord V (e.g. G major chord, then C major chord in the key of C major).

This is a perfect cadence:

A plagal cadence is Chord IV to Chord I (e.g. F major chord then C major chord in the key of C major). It also sounds finished, but perhaps not quite as decisively as a perfect cadence because you do not hear the leading note (7th note of the scale) in chord IV.

A plagal cadence often used to be described as the sound of 'Amen' in Christian religious music, but this is not much help if you don't sing or listen to that kind of music!

This is a plagal cadence:

5.3 – Describe the interval between two notes

Listen to two notes and then describe the interval between them. 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.

Perfect intervals

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
  • C – Bb is a minor 7th
  • C – B is a major 7th
  • C – the next C is an octave

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:

^ Minor 2nd
^ Major 2nd
^ Minor 3rd
^ Major 3rd
^ Perfect 4th
^ Perfect 5th
^ Minor 6th
^ Major 6th
^ Minor 7th
^ Major 7th
^ Octave

5.4 – 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. The changes will be to the top line only.

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.

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.

Here is an example of a rhythm change and a pitch change. Watch the video on full screen:

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