Music Style and Composition 1 and 2


In both units of Music Style and Composition you will participate in responding to, analysing and creating music.

Unit 1 features three styles of music: Soul, West African and Baroque music. You will investigate these styles through listening and analysing. Every week a different element of music is covered in the Ear Gym, where you listen to many and varied styles of music. From the sands of the Sahara to the Highlands of Scotland, and from the medieval Gregorian chant to popular styles of today, you will listen and respond. You will also create music throughout the unit, using ideas and devices explored in the music studied, including creating your own song.

Unit 2 explores music created for works that combine music with another artistic discipline. Examples of this are TV program themes, opera, special events, ballet, musical theatre and film. You will analyse music for film and theatre with a focus on the works of Howard Shore from Lord of the Rings and Stephen Sondheim. In the Ear Gym, you will continue to listen to music in a huge range of styles, focusing on the ways in which music elements can be used to create specific moods, and to enhance communication of text, character, or narrative. For their creative work, you will compose two main pieces of music – one for a film and a song for a stage musical.

Who is it for?

This subject is for anyone who loves music, is open to learning more about a broad range of musical styles and would like to develop or explore further their composition of music.

It is useful for anyone studying a musical instrument and those hoping to go on to tertiary music courses. Those who would like to understand more about music and its different elements will enjoy this subject.

What do you do?

Among the activities in these Units are:

  • listening to soul music and its origins – gospel, and rhythm and blues, with artists such as Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin
  • creating a multimedia project about the music in Africa
  • composing a piece using techniques of other composers and writing your own song to a set of given lyrics
  • learning about the 10 music elements and building a vocabulary to describe each one
  • discovering the world of musical theatre through many of the Stephen Sondheim musicals such as Into The Woods and Sweeney Todd
  • observing and participating in drumming traditions with a real-life Ghanaian band at one of our seminars.

What skills do you need?

Be open to listening and analysing other styles to observe how the composer has used the music elements and what compositional devices the composer utilised.

Some basic music theory knowledge is recommended (e.g. Grade 1 or 2 AMEB Theory level).

It would be advantageous to have knowledge of a music notation program such as AVID’s Sibelius to assist and enable composition and playback.

What skills do you develop?

The subject develops active and focused listening skills, an appreciation for diverse musical styles, and compositional techniques. Students will also reflect on their creative processes to further hone their skills to advance towards Units 3 and 4.



You must have internet connection in order to access this course. All weekly work will be viewed, completed and submitted online.

Recording / notation software for creating original music is required. Creative submissions must include some form of music notation.

Things to think about

An open-minded attitude to exploring different music styles is a distinct advantage.

Some basic music theory knowledge is recommended (e.g. Grade 1 or 2 AMEB Theory).

Things you can do now

Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.


Things to have a look at

History of music – Part III (Baroque)

Sample video of Ghanaian traditional music

Ray Charles – Hit the road Jack