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‘My Music’
How to write the commentary

For AOS1 you need to produce a commentary (up to 400 words). This is going be a
document that we will be developing throughout the year to ensure that you all achieve
the best mark possible.

The commentary should have the following structure:

 The first paragraph deals with the background to the piece and the role of your
instrument within it. You need to use the answers to the questions I asked you to
answer about your instrument. Show that you know when the piece was written
and where it was originally performed. Refer as well to the part your instrument
plays in the piece (e.g. are you a soloist or part of an ensemble? Do you provide
rhythmic or harmonic support, or do you play the melody?) To get a high mark
you will need to do more than simply state the facts; show you understand why
your instrument is used in a particular way. The list of question below will help
you find the information you will need.

1. What date was the piece composed? Who wrote it?

2. What style is it in?
3. What are the characteristic features of that style?
4. Why was the piece composed?
5. Where was it originally intended to be performed?
6. Why does it suit your instrument?
7. Are you playing it in its original version or is it an arrangement?
8. If it is an arrangement, why has it been arranged and what changes have
been made to the original to suit your instrument?
9. If it is an unaccompanied piece, why doesn’t it need accompaniment?
How does your instrument keep the interest of the audience throughout?
Does the instrument accompany itself, and if so how does it do this?
10. If the piece does have an accompaniment, how are the tune and the
accompaniment related?
11. If it is a group piece, what part does your instrument play in the group?
Does it take the lead, support the others or both? If it supports other
instruments then how does it do this?

 The second paragraph looks at the instrumental techniques used in the piece and
their effect. Again, you will need to use your research. Refer to specific
techniques that you as a performer need to use in order to make the piece musical.
You might explain how you produce accurate intonation (tuning), how you
articulate the notes, how you use the piano pedals to phrase the music, or how you
shape the dynamics using breath control.
1. What do you need to do to make sure the notes are in tune?
2. How do you articulate the notes?
3. What do you need to do to move from one range to another?
4. How do you control and change the volume in the piece?
5. What other techniques specific to your instrument are used in the piece?

2. The third paragraph is your evaluation of the performance, in which you will
write about how successful it was. To write this, you can use information from
your research to back up your thoughts.

3. The fourth paragraph is your composition brief which outlines your plans for the
composition and the techniques you aim to use. Use the table below to collect the
information needed. Don’t worry if the final composition is not exactly the same
as the brief in every single respect: composers are allowed to change their minds
about things. However, it will be expected that the composition broadly reflects
what you set out to achieve.

What am I Why? What am I Why?

going to use going to do





Other features
signature, key,
tempo etc)
Here is an example of an excellent composition brief:

I will write an accompanied romantic melody for keyboard which is easy and
enjoyable to play. I will use a simple chord sequence changing chords once per bar
because this will make it easy to coordinate the hands and will also create a calm
mood. The melody will have regular length phrases with some repetition, and it will
move mainly by step so that it is both smooth and lies well under the hand. I will
shape the melody carefully using wider intervals for effect. I won’t use an octave but
will experiment with other intervals. I won’t exceed an octave as I want to keep it
legato and I can only stretch an octave.