Grade 8 Music Theory (ABRSM)

A complete course covering the ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory syllabus.

Course Summary

Grade 8 Music Theory - Complete Course

Grade 8 is the final level of music theory offered by the ABRSM as an examination subject.

At this level, you are studying topics similar to those studied at undergraduate level at a UK university. 
Grade 8 tests your knowledge and skills in harmony, composition and general knowledge through a variety of questions.

This course covers each topic in the ABRSM grade 8 exam in detail, with clear explanations, demonstrations, and course PDF included.
Please note, the course does not include marking, but this can be arranged separately.

Course length: Approx 6 hours


What's in the exam?


The exam begins with a Baroque Trio Sonata, which needs to be completed according to the instructions in the figured bass, and should conform to the typical Baroque style. This question tests your ability to interpret the figuring, to notice patterns and sequences and apply them appropriately elsewhere, and to obey the accepted rules of harmony that were practised during the Baroque period.

Question 2 requires you to complete a keyboard piece from the given skeleton framework. You are provided with example bars and harmony, and are tested on your ability to write in the same character throughout, while still obeying the conventions of harmony and in an appropriate keyboard style.

The third question in the exam is a composition piece. You will be given the opening melodic ideas of two pieces and need to choose one to continue into a fully formed piece. You will be tested on your ability to adapt the given opening, fitting a strong melody to a good harmonic framework built of phrases and cadences, as well as writing in an idiomatic style suitable for the instrument. You will be expected to structure the composition in a logical manner, and to include changes of key.

The final two questions in the exam use musical scores to test a wide range of general knowledge questions in music theory. Usually you will be presented with one score for a chamber work, such as a sonata or string quartet, and another for a larger orchestral work. Questions normally cover a variety of topics such as chords, key and harmony, intervals, transposition, knowledge of notation, special symbols and foreign terms, style and compositional techniques, and knowledge of the standard and extended orchestral families.

Grade 8 is a challenging exam, but one which you will find interesting and useful. The skills you learn at this level will help you to make sense of a large variety of music as both a listener and a player, and for those who are interested in composition, there are plenty of techniques covered to help you extend your skillset.

Course Curriculum

Victoria Williams

I'm Victoria Williams BA (Hons)Mus, LmusTCL, AmusTCL (Distinction), MISM. I graduated in music, (specialising in musicology), from the University of Leeds. I hold two diplomas in music theory from Trinity College London, and have enjoyed over a decade of experience teaching music theory, with an emphasis on ABRSM exam preparation, to students around the globe. All the materials have been tried and tested on real human students, and have proven themselves to be effective - my students generally gain top marks in their exam (and so can you!)

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