Composing Skills

[Note: page not yet updated for 2017–18 Nat 5 assessment changes]

Composing Skills (like Performing Skills) means what it says… basically making up your own music. So let’s (as we did for Performing Skills) look at the required outcomes for this Unit at the various levels then explain what this means to you…

Outcome 1

The learner will:
1 Create original music by:

(At National 4, from Music: Composing Skills (National 4) Unit Specification)
1.1 Identifying the compositional methods and music concepts used in given examples of music
1.2 Experimenting and using music concepts and compositional methods to develop and create original music
1.3 Developing musical ideas which convey their creative intention
1.4 Reflecting on their music and their creative choices

(At National 5, from Music: Composing Skills (National 5) Unit Specification)
1.1 Understanding how a range of compositional methods and music concepts are used by composers and the influences on their work
1.2 Experimenting and using music concepts and compositional methods in creative ways to develop, refine and create original music
1.3 Developing musical ideas which make musical sense and realise their creative intentions
1.4 Self-reflecting on their music and their creative choices and decisions

(At Higher, from Music: Composing Skills (Higher) Unit Specification)
1.1 Analysing how a range of compositional methods and music concepts are used by other composers and the influences on their music
1.2 Experimenting and using music concepts and compositional methods in creative ways to develop refine and create original music
1.3 Developing musical ideas which make musical sense and realise their creative intentions
1.4 Critically reflecting on their music and their creative choices and decisions

(At Advanced Higher, from Advanced Higher Music: Composing Skills Unit Specification)
1.1 Analysing how a range of advanced compositional methods and music concepts are used by composers for specific effect and the contexts which influenced their work
1.2 Experimenting and using complex music concepts and compositional methods in sophisticated and creative ways to develop, refine and create original music
1.3 Developing musical ideas which make musical sense and realise their creative intentions
1.4 Critically reflecting on their music and on the musical impact of their creative choices and decisions.

So the ‘composing’ part’s pretty obvious… you have to compose (which may also include elements of improvisation or arranging existing music), and with greater musical accomplishment as well as more sophistication as you move up the levels. But you also have to demonstrate that you can plan and evaluate your own work with similarly increasing awareness and record your thoughts there somehow. Your compositions are assessed as pass or fail by the teacher, but some explanation of what you’ve done is also required for the unit pass.

[More guidance on what you need to say for the different levels to follow here?]

As with the Performing Skills unit, your composing can now be assessed on ‘short sections of music’, with no requirement to finish complete pieces. But there’s nothing to stop you writing that whole symphony or opera if you can!