Stage 2 | Subject Outline | Versions control

Music Studies Stage 2
Subject outline

Version 4.0 - For teaching in 2024.
Accredited in June 2017 for teaching at Stage 2 from 2019.

Stage 2 | Subject outline | Supporting document

Music Studies supporting document

Elements Theoretical concepts


  • Notes and rests: whole note to 1/16 note (semibreve to semiquavers), dots and ties, tuplets
  • Simple meter (e.g. 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/8, 2/2, 3/2)
  • Irregular meter (e.g. 5/4, 7/8) 
  • Compound meter (e.g. 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, 6/4)
  • Understanding of beat groupings for notes and rests
  • Syncopation
  • Tempo and pulse
  • Rhythmic setting of text
  • Rhythmic fragmentation and extension


  • Treble, alto and bass clefs; percussion clef
  • Major and minor scales (harmonic, natural, melodic), blues scale, pentatonic scale and modes
  • Diatonic and chromatic intervals and their inversions
  • Melodic contour, climax points
  • Melodic fragmentation and extension
  • Balanced phrasing and irregular phrase lengths
  • Countermelodies (similar, contrary, parallel and oblique motion)
  • Counter lines and melodic fills
  • Melodic setting of text
  • Transposition
  • Perfect, imperfect, plagal, and interrupted cadences
  • Chord nomenclature (Roman numerals or chord symbols using slash notation)
  • Writing and identifying triads in root position and inversions (e.g. C major, C minor, C diminished, C augmented)
  • Writing and identifying the dominant 7th chord in root position and inversions
  • Secondary dominant chords
  • Chord extensions (e.g. to the 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th) 
  • Altered dominant chords (e.g. b9, #5)
  • Chord-voicing, voice-leading
  • Chord and non-chord notes (e.g. Passing, Neighbour, Anticipation, Escape, Appoggiatura)
  • Conventional chord progressions of either traditional or jazz‑related harmony
  • Passing 6/4 and cadential 6/4 progressions
  • Modulation to closely related keys
  • Consonance and dissonance
  • Ostinati, pedal notes, drones

Dynamics and expression

  • Understanding of all terminology relating to chosen repertoire and works studied
  • Dynamic shaping and associated markings (symbols)
  • Expressive articulation and associated markings (symbols)
  • Tempo indications (e.g. quarter note = 120 BPM and terms related to speed found in the chosen repertoire)

Form and structure

  • Binary, ternary, ritornello, fugue, ground bass, strophic (song), sonata, rondo, through-composed, theme and variations, sectional
  • Aleatoric/chance
  • Dance forms
  • Introductions, codas, musical shape
  • Development of musical material
  • Live loop recording


  • Pitched and unpitched instruments (instrument families)
  • Traditional acoustic instruments, including vocal and instrumental ranges
  • Tone colour of individual instruments and instrumental combinations (including voices and FX processing)
  • Standard score order for instruments and voices in a range of ensembles (big band, choir, chamber ensembles, concert band, orchestra)
  • Blend of instrumental groupings
  • Non-conventional ensembles or instrumentations
  • Capabilities, transpositions, and style of writing for voices and instruments

  • Layering and blending of musical lines (melodic and rhythmic)
  • Varied combinations of single lines and blocks of sound or between simple and complex layering (e.g. monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic, multi-layered and heterophonic textures)
  • Balance between parts