Composition to OCR Brief

Below you will find the exam brief for this year's composition. This brief is only released at the start of each academic year, for year 11 ONLY. Year 10 and 9 briefs are released the following years respectively.

Make sure you read the instructions on the front cover VERY CAREFULLY. Not doing so could result in your composition being altogether wrong and costing you lots of marks.

553278-practical-component-composition-briefs-june-2020.pdf

Key Things to Remember

  • You must FIRST select your Area Of Study from the inside page. Some Areas of Study will ask you to use certain stimuli

  • The chosen stimulus must be used as part of your composition, AS IT IS WRITTEN. You are expected to change and develop the stimulus but we must hear it in its original form at some point. This is so you can prove to the examiner that you can play/use the stimulus and that it forms the basis (starting point) of your composition. Listen to the example below these tips. The lyrics for the stimuli were as follows:

I wish I were as free as a bird

High up in the sky.

Instead I’m here alone and sad

And have to say goodbye.


  • The student has clearly used this stimulus as the chorus for her song; the main section that is meant to be memorable and the main theme, like all choruses for most pop songs. However, she has extensively developed the stimulus by adding her own lyrics, following the same rhyming pattern, using them as verses, adding an instrumental section, using backing vocals and repeating the lyric 'goodbye' so that it becomes almost like a hook. This example is one of the very best examples from our June 2019 exam cohort.

  • If like most students, you choose Area of Study 5: Conventions of Pop, you MUST include vocals. The instructions state you need to create a 'popular style song' which means a typical song that uses a verse chorus structure and also features lyrics. You do not need to sing on your own piece - see below for more information on that...

  • It will be much easier if you perform/play all the parts on your composition. However, technically you don't have to play any of the parts at all. You can use any musician/s you like. Just understand that if you do use other musicians, YOU HAVE TO PRODUCE A DETAILED SCORE FOR THEIR PART. They cannot add any embellishment or stylistic enhancements at all unless you have written them on the score. If your singer decides to slide from one note to the next, it has to be a portamento instruction on the exact note and lyric. Hopefully now you understand why we get you to practise so much in GCSE music...Below is an example of a student's written score part for another guitarist that played on their piece.

  • Your piece should be a minimum of 1 minute 30 seconds. There is no limit on the maximum song length but around 5 minutes is the limit we put on entries.

Yasmin Wiseman composition 03.mp3
5106 Juliana_Shaw_Composition_03.pdf

Click here or the header above to get help with starting and creating your composition, both compositions

Example compositions

Below are examples of exam brief compositions that you can listen to.

Antoine Lynn - 2019 - set of chords stimulus

Antoine Lynn composition 03.mp3

Abigail O'Neill - 2018 - set of words

4096_ONeill_Abigail_comp03.mp3