IB Music

Course Outline (first assessment 2022)

The IB Music Guide contains the course outline in detail - starting on page 21, with the assessment outline on page 42.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ THE WHOLE GUIDE! However, you do need to read the guidance on this section of the website.

Below is a summary of how IB music is assessed.

Click the drop-down icon for each component for more detail.

So you like punk/reggae/hip hop/soca/ska/western classical/house/DnB....

So what?

On this course you MUST listen to and explore a diverse array of music, from all over the world. You are graded on your ability to evidence this.

Here's a Spotify playlist with 100s of tracks from artists you likely may never have heard of. We recommend you listen to this playlist for at least 30 minutes a day.

Students will learn how to analyse and explore a diverse range of music to help expand their own music-making. This will include practical tasks including but not limited to reading music, analysing audio extracts, writing about music, practically demonstrating features and or specific musical practices, practically exploring music and much more (!) in order to explore different musical styles. Students will demonstrate diversity and breadth in their exploration.


Page 42 - EXTERNALLY assessed

Students select samples of their work for a PORTFOLIO submission (maximum 2,400 words). Students submit:

a. written work demonstrating engagement with, and understanding of, DIVERSE musical material

b. practical exercises:

  • creating: one creating exercise (score maximum 32 bars AND/OR audio 1 minute as appropriate to style)

  • performing: one performed adaptation of music from a local or global context for the student’s own instrument (maximum 2 minutes)

c. supporting audio material (not assessed - this would be also included in the student's JOURNAL - click for more info).

Students will connect their study of music to their practical work to gain a deeper understanding of the music they engage with/listen to. They do this through the roles of researcher, creator and performer. Students must learn to experiment with a range of musical material and stimuli from varied sources across local and global contexts.


Page 42 - INTERNALLY Assessed

Students submit an experimentation report with evidence of their musical processes in creating and performing in two areas of inquiry (see below) in a local and/or global context. The report provides a rationale and commentary for each process. Students submit:

a. a written experimentation report that supports the experimentation (maximum 1,500 words)

b. practical musical evidence of the experimentation process

  • three related excerpts of creating (total maximum 5 minutes)

  • three related excerpts of performing (total maximum 5 minutes)

Students learn to practise and prepare finished pieces that will be performed or presented to an audience. In working towards completed musical works, students expand their musical identity, demonstrate their level of musicianship, and learn to share and communicate their music as researchers, creators and performers.


Page 42 - EXTERNALLY assessed

Students submit a collection of works demonstrating engagement with diverse musical material from four areas of inquiry (see section below). The submission contains:

a. Presenting as a researcher

  • programme notes (maximum 600 words)

b. Presenting as a creator

  • composition and/or improvisation (maximum 6 minutes)

c. Presenting as a performer

  • solo and/or ensemble (maximum 12 minutes)

  • excerpts, where applicable (maximum 2 minutes)

The Contemporary Music Maker - 30%

Page 36 in the IB Music Guide

(Higher Level only)

For the HL component, students plan and collaboratively create a project that draws on the competencies, skills and processes in all of the music course, and must be inspired by real-life practices of music-making.


Page 42/43 - INTERNALLY assessed

Students submit a continuous multimedia presentation documenting their real-life project. Students submit multimedia presentation (maximum 15 minutes), evidencing:

a. the project proposal

b. the process and evaluation

c. the realized project, or curated selections of it.

Click HERE or the title above for IB board released exemplar materials as well as examples from our own students.

Areas of Inquiry

Pages 22-23 of the IB Music Guide

Students will engage with diverse musical material through FOUR areas of inquiry. These four areas of inquiry will dictate how students are assessed on the course and students MUST show evidence that they have engaged with these four areas.

1. Music for sociocultural and political expression

This area focuses on music that expresses and communicates social and cultural messages, conveys political ideas and/or helps preserve social and cultural traditions.

Examples of relevant musical materials may include the following genres.

  • Protest songs

  • Liturgical music (music for worship)

  • National anthems

2. Music for listening and performance

This area focuses on music that expresses and communicates intrinsic aesthetic values - aims to simply sound good and appeal to an audience simply for that purpose. Such music is sometimes referred to as “absolute music”.

Examples of relevant music materials may include the following genres.

  • Chamber music of the Western art tradition

  • Jazz (Bebop, hardbop, gypsy, swing and big band, modal, free jazz, smooth jazz, afro-cuban jazz and much more)

  • Experimental music

3. Music for dramatic impact, movement and entertainment

This area focuses on music used for dramatic effect, music that supports choreographed movement or dance and/or music that is incidental or intended to purposefully serve as entertainment.

Examples of relevant music materials may include the following genres.

  • Music for film

  • Music for ballet

  • Musical theatre

4. Music technology in the electronic and digital age

This area focuses on music created, performed and/or produced using electronic or digital technologies. Such technologies are an important aspect of contemporary musical experiences, often transforming some of the ways that we understand and engage with music.

Examples of relevant musical materials may include the following genres.

  • Electronic dance music

  • Elektronische Musik (translates to 'Electronic Music'. Similar to above but concerned instead with all electronic styles as opposed to the above EDM which is intended for night clubs, raves and festivals and re-played by a DJ. One example would be Kraftwerk who create and perform their own electronic music)

  • Technology in popular music production

These areas of inquiry are not intended to categorize all musical genres and styles definitively, but to offer a flexible approach for understanding and working with a variety of musical materials and experiences.

Some genres and styles may lend themselves to being explored through one area; others may be creatively explored through multiple areas.

In each area, students should consider musical intentions and purposes, the methods and techniques used to create the music, the role of musical conventions, and the impact and experience of the audience.

Studying musical materials in this way encourages students to make and appreciate new and rich connections between different works and ideas encountered in the course.


Pages 23-24 of the IB Music Guide

Students are required to engage with the diverse nature of music, looking beyond their own contexts to explore music with which they are unfamiliar, and which will broaden both their cultural and musical perspectives.

This fosters international-mindedness and encourages the exploration of less familiar musical work to inspire student’s practical work.

THREE contexts will be used to guide the student’s choice of material:

Personal context

  • This includes music that has significance to the student, and that they are most familiar with.

  • Students consider their immediate cultural context and interests that contribute to their emerging musical identity.

Local context

  • This includes music that has local significance, but that may be unfamiliar to the student.

  • This can be music from within the student’s local, regional or cultural communities, and may include music that the student is not currently engaged with.

Global context

  • This includes unfamiliar music from a variety of places, societies and cultures.

  • This may include music that the student has not connected or engaged with. The music may be from a distant global region but may also include music in closer proximity that has not been previously accessible to the student.

Discussion and joint decision-making between teachers and students is strongly recommended when selecting diverse musical material to be studied.

Students’ engagement with diverse musical material will be evidenced in the work submitted for assessment.

Basic Skills for IB Music

To be updated - keep checking!

How to Research

Academic Writing

Reference list/Bibliography

General guidance below

In-text Citation Guidance

Component Summaries.pdf

Component Summaries

Use this document to see an accurate overview of each unit in this course. This document tells you what each unit involves and what must be included.

DP Music Assessment Check List.pdf

IB Music Assessment Checklist

Use this document to check your work is ready for submission and that you are including everything needed

IB Music Submission.pptx

IB Music Submission Info

Use this PowerPoint presentation to help you understand exactly how and what is to be submitted to the eCoursework portal. Useful for teaching staff also.