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Arco Exam


Justadad
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I wonder if anyone would like to share their experience of the ARCO exam for the benefit of those taking it later in the year. For example, do you think it is better to go for -

 

Harmonisation, improvisation or figured bass?

The melody based composition in advance or on the day?

Adding parts to a 16th century vocal line or an 18th century keyboard line?

 

I appreciate that one must go for whatever one is best at or most comfortable with but I've heard it said, for example, that historically people have more success with figured bass than either of the other options. And doing the composition in advance seems so obviously advantageous I can't understand why the alternative is there but guess there must be a good reason for it.

 

The syllabus is here.

http://www.rco.org.uk/pdfs/Syllabus07-08.pdf#page=11 (You may have to scroll through to page 11 as the bookmark doesn't seem to be working.)

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

(Please can I ask nicely that his thread remain free of debate about the merits of the RCO or the relevance of the content of its exams? Thanks.)

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I appreciate that one must go for whatever one is best at or most comfortable with but I've heard it said, for example, that historically people have more success with figured bass than either of the other options.
Maybe that's a comment on candidates' level of spontaneous imagination more than anything else? In figured bass the harmonic framework is given, relieving the candidate of the need to map out mentally a convincing harmonic scheme.

 

As for the composition exercise, the first option sounds to me more like an exercise in pastiche (which is easy if you know all the conventions and clichés), while the second requires a real composition. If I am right, I am not surprised that you are allowed more time to consider the second. I very much doubt that it is an easier option.

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I myself, speaking as one who hasnt done ARCO yet but hopes to have a go in January, would go for either figured bass or improvisation. Then again this is just my personal preference...as these are the ones I enjoy/have the most experience in.

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I wonder if anyone would like to share their experience of the ARCO exam for the benefit of those taking it later in the year. For example, do you think it is better to go for -

 

Harmonisation, improvisation or figured bass?

The melody based composition in advance or on the day?

Adding parts to a 16th century vocal line or an 18th century keyboard line?

 

I appreciate that one must go for whatever one is best at or most comfortable with but I've heard it said, for example, that historically people have more success with figured bass than either of the other options. And doing the composition in advance seems so obviously advantageous I can't understand why the alternative is there but guess there must be a good reason for it.

 

The syllabus is here.

http://www.rco.org.uk/pdfs/Syllabus07-08.pdf#page=11 (You may have to scroll through to page 11 as the bookmark doesn't seem to be working.)

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

(Please can I ask nicely that his thread remain free of debate about the merits of the RCO or the relevance of the content of its exams? Thanks.)

I suggest candidates do whichever of Harm/FB/Improv they are most likely to use 'for real'. FB is 'safe' but needs fluency which is hard to develop if it is done in a vacuum. I prefer improvisation as its eminently learnable (simple structures and patterns) and re-usable for ever more. I gather that more do FB than the other two but to date all my pupils have chosen Harm or Improv and passed first time...

 

On paperwork the pastiche q's are not hard - if you chose a style you play for real it is quite straightforward to learn how recreate something suitable (and hence how to play it). The composition requires a lot more work to do well.

 

16c v18c (you know what I'm going to say) If you sing, direct or play 16c (or have done it at Univ) this is not rocket science. Otherwise 18c is probably more familiar and hence easier.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

Having glanced at the link, I would be greatly intimidated by doing a figured bass duet with an examiner I think.

 

If I was to do the ARCO examination, I would be more tempted to have a go at the Improvisation.

 

However, I am somewhat put off by having a maximum of 2 minutes as this surely limits one's ability to display a good number of Forms as this limit makes a good number impossible. (Perhaps they should stipulate which ones they would hope the player to attempt. They indicate about Transposition.) So, therefore, by default I think, a nice A,B or A,B,A (better) played no slower than Andante would be such a fine little way to demonstrate that you are a musician with a constructive free spirit.

 

Best wishes and happy creating,

Nigel

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