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Musical links investigation—SL and HL
Weighting: 20%

The IB recommends that 30 teaching hours should be undertaken at both SL and HL during the student’s course of study in preparation for the musical links investigation.
The musical links investigation will be externally assessed using the external assessment criteria (see “External assessment criteria—SL and HL” in this guide).
The musical links investigation requires the student to engage in a sustained investigation that is self-directed. It is designed to allow the student the opportunity to investigate the musical connections between pieces from two distinct musical cultures by exploring one (or more) musical piece(s) from each musical culture.
Through comparative exploration, analysis and examination of these pieces, the student is required to demonstrate two or more significant musical links—that is to say, links concerning musical elements.
These musical links must be stated both on the musical links investigation coversheet and at the beginning of the script.
In order to demonstrate musical links through convincing arguments the student should engage in accurate description, analysis and examination of differences and similarities between one (or more) musical piece(s) from each of two identifiable and distinct musical cultures. The student should take care to maintain an even balance of attention between the two musical cultures when writing the musical links investigation.
The two musical cultures chosen for study should be sufficiently distinct: the musical pieces chosen should therefore be clearly definable as belonging to distinct musical cultures. (Students are advised not to choose two pieces where one has influenced the other—for example, the Beatles’ music reflecting Indian influences).
The student should investigate the compositional features found in the music, such as, but not limited to, duration, pitch, tonality, timbre/tone colour, texture, dynamics, and form/structure. Where a musical work includes text it should be considered in relation to the music.
The student should also note that large-scale pieces, such as a whole opera or symphony, are unlikely to be analysed in sufficient detail in the scope of an investigation. Therefore, in certain cases it is acceptable to analyse a section or a fragment of a whole opera or symphony. Nevertheless, the section/fragment should be long enough to support the arguments presented by the student. Similarly, the use of too many pieces of music may produce a less convincing argument.
If the same topic is chosen for different assessment components, that topic must be treated completely differently—otherwise it may be considered as a breach of regulations. Students who choose to write an extended essay in music should focus on a research question that has no common ground with the material of their musical links investigation. (Please refer to the General regulations: Diploma Programme.) The current prescribed works may not be chosen for the musical links investigation.
Format
The musical links investigation must be submitted as a media script of no more than 2,000 words.
Mass media communication in the 21st century has many formats, such as radio, television, CD-ROM, internet, printed article, or lecture. The musical links investigation should be conceived for any form of mass media communication. A range of possibilities could include straightforward narration, interview or dramatization. However, the focus must be on the music itself and not on peripheries such as biography or social discourses that may detract from the musical links investigation. Scripts that concentrate on such peripheries at the expense of content will not successfully fulfill the assessment requirements.
The length of the media script, not including quotations and citations of sources, must be no more than 2,000 words at both SL and HL. The variety of styles of media script may affect the length of the student’s musical links investigation. For example, a student who presents similarities and differences in a tabular form as part of a website could achieve the same outcome in fewer words than a student who writes in a more narrative form, such as a magazine article or a radio show. Both approaches are equally acceptable for the musical links investigation. Therefore, there is a degree of flexibility in the number of words used.
If students exceed 2,000 words, the examiner’s assessment must be based on the first 2,000 words. In case of doubt, examiners are instructed to determine when the word limit has been exceeded.
The following elements should not be included in the word count.
Quotations (the actual text taken from a source and used in the body of the script)
Citations of sources
Bibliography
Discography
A computer word-count tool is to be discouraged because of these parameters: a manual count is required.
For the purposes of external assessment, students must submit a paper copy of the media script, regardless of the medium chosen. For example, if a student chooses to present the information as a website, the screenshots must be printed out in order for the submission to be examined. If students have the opportunity to submit the musical links investigation in an electronic format, schools will be notified in advance of the examination session.
Relevant supporting materials may include a CD recording of musical extracts illustrating points raised (five minutes maximum) and/or papers, such as musical notation, photographs and diagrams.
Sources
In the written media script, the student must cite both primary and secondary sources used. Sources of information must be acknowledged and a consistent format used (for example, the Harvard author–date system).
In accordance with the style manual used, internet sources must be accurately and completely cited. It is not enough to simply cite the web address. Students must cite the author, title of the article or entry, and date of access to the site.
Primary sources must be used and may include live performance and recordings, website streaming, musical notation, interviews and discussion with practitioners in the field. Secondary sources may include textbooks, documentaries and articles (either in paper or electronic form).
As the sources must be acknowledged, if the choice of media script does not lend itself to the inclusion of references within the text, footnotes should be used.
Students will receive credit for their own work, which must include an apt selection of references and quotations, intelligent and persuasive links, and effective questioning. Care must be taken to ensure that the majority of the script represents the student’s own ideas and not a summary of other sources. A bibliography and discography are required.
The role of the teacher
Prior to the student’s completion of the first draft, the teacher is expected to:
inform students of the characteristics of the musical links investigation media script, making sure that the concept of significant musical links is understood
make the assessment criteria available to students at all times
assist each student in choosing the musical cultures and pieces; however, the student is ultimately responsible for these decisions
require each student in the early stages of the investigation to provide a conceptual framework detailing the proposed musical links, similarities and differences, and primary and secondary sources
encourage and support students in the preparation of the work and facilitate access to resources
provide guidance about the writing skills needed to complete the musical links investigation
ensure that students understand what constitutes academic honesty and an authentic piece of work, including citation of sources.
Through regular monitoring, the teacher must:
ensure that the investigation is the student’s own work.
Before the submission of the final piece of work, the teacher must:
ensure that the student fills in the coversheet and signs it, including a statement of the main musical links
complete and sign the coversheet.
Advice
During the process of completing the musical links investigation, the student should submit a comprehensive draft of the final version to enable the teacher to give appropriate feedback. As part of this process, teachers can give advice to students on this draft only. This advice can be either verbal or written, and can indicate the way in which the work could be improved. If the advice is written, the teacher must not heavily annotate or edit the student’s draft. The next version handed to the teacher after the first version must be the final one.
Discussion and support
Students must not be penalized for seeking guidance. However, if a student could not have completed the musical links investigation without substantial support from the teacher, this should be recorded on the appropriate form from the Handbook of procedures for the Diploma Programme.
Academic honesty
Teachers must ensure that material submitted is the student’s own work. Students are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all work submitted for assessment is authentic, with the work or ideas of others fully and correctly acknowledged. Every student must also sign a declaration on the coversheet that is attached to their work. In addition, teachers are also required to sign the musical links investigation coversheet to confirm that, to the best of their knowledge, the work of each student is his or her own work and constitutes the final version of that work. For further information about academic honesty, teachers should refer to the latest edition of the IB publication Academic honesty.
External assessment criteria—SL and HL

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Listening paper—section A (SL and HL)
This criterion concerns the student’s ability to:
question 1 or question 2—analyse and examine essential musical elements (including form and structure) within one of the two prescribed works
question 3—compare and/or contrast the two prescribed works, emphasizing the presence of any significant musical links.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1–4 The answers, which generally do not address the question, show a minimal level of musical understanding. There is limited use of musical evidence, though this is poorly located, or none at all. There is limited use of musical terminology or none at all.
5–8 The answers, which may not always address the question, show some level of musical understanding. There is some use of musical evidence, though this is not located precisely enough. There is some use of musical terminology.
9–12 The answers, which generally address the question, show an adequate level of musical understanding. There is use of musical evidence, though this is not always precisely located. There is partially effective use of musical terminology.
13–16 The answers, which generally address the question, may not always be convincing but show a good level of musical understanding. There is appropriate use of musical evidence, mostly precisely located. There is mostly effective use of musical terminology.
17–20 The answers, which consistently address the question, are convincing and show a very good level of musical understanding, supported by a most appropriate use of musical evidence, precisely located. There is highly effective use of musical terminology.
Listening paper—section B (SL and HL)
A Musical elements
This criterion concerns the student’s ability to perceive the musical elements, such as, but not limited to, duration, pitch, tonality, timbre/tone colour, texture and dynamics, and their significance. Articulation and other expressive and production techniques might also be discussed.
Note: Structure is assessed in a separate criterion.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The work displays insufficient and weak aural perception. The student has identified musical elements poorly, including very few, if any of the significant ones.
2 The work sometimes displays adequate aural perception. The student has identified some musical elements, including a few of the significant ones.
3 The work displays partially effective aural perception. The student has generally accurately identified musical elements, including some of the significant ones.
4 The work displays mostly effective aural perception. The student has accurately identified musical elements, including many of the significant ones.
5 The work consistently displays highly effective aural perception. The student has accurately identified musical elements, including nearly all of the significant ones.
B Musical structure
This criterion concerns the student’s ability to perceive principal structural features, such as, but not limited to, form, phrases, and motifs.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The work demonstrates little perception of principal structural features.
2 The work demonstrates limited and ineffective perception of principal structural features.
3 The work demonstrates partially effective perception of principal structural features.
4 The work demonstrates mostly effective perception of principal structural features.
5 The work consistently demonstrates highly effective perception of principal structural features.
C Musical terminology
This criterion concerns the student’s knowledge of musical terminology and its appropriate use.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The work displays little knowledge and use, if any, of musical terminology.
2 The work displays some knowledge of musical terminology but its use is inaccurate at times.
3 The work displays satisfactory knowledge and use of musical terminology.
4 The work displays good knowledge and use of musical terminology.
5 The work consistently displays very good knowledge and use of musical terminology.
D Musical context
This criterion concerns the student’s ability to place each extract in its musical context, such as, but not limited to, cultural, historical and stylistic context.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The work demonstrates little and inaccurate knowledge of the musical context. The student has used little reasoned argument.
2 The work demonstrates some knowledge of the musical context. The student has sometimes used reasoned argument.
3 The work demonstrates adequate knowledge of the musical context. The student has used partially effective reasoned argument.
4 The work demonstrates good knowledge of the musical context. The student has used mostly effective reasoned argument.
5 The work consistently demonstrates very good knowledge of the musical context. The student has consistently used highly effective reasoned argument.
Musical links investigation
A Musical cultures, examples and links
This criterion concerns the student’s choice of musical examples. A student should choose one (or more) musical piece(s) from each of two identifiable and distinct musical cultures. These examples must also share two or more significant musical links that can be investigated in detail.
The student must state the two or more significant musical links on the musical links investigation coversheet and at the beginning of the script.
The definition of musical culture for the purposes of the IB Diploma Programme music course is given in the “Syllabus content” section of this guide.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The choice of two identifiable and distinct musical cultures is inappropriate and/or the musical pieces from the two different musical cultures share fewer than two significant musical links and/or are inappropriate. Any links are not stated or are stated ambiguously or are not musical ones, and give inadequate scope for investigation.
2 The choice of two identifiable and distinct musical cultures is generally appropriate and the musical pieces from the two different musical cultures share two or more significant musical links and are generally appropriate. The musical links are adequately stated and do allow for investigation.
3 The choice of two identifiable and distinct musical cultures is most appropriate. The musical pieces from the two different musical cultures share two or more significant musical links and are most appropriate. The musical links are clearly stated and do allow for a sustained investigation.
B Analysis and comparison of musical elements
This criterion concerns the student’s ability to analyse and examine, compare and contrast musical elements, such as, but not limited to, duration, pitch, tonality, timbre/tone colour, texture, dynamics, form and structure, and their significance in the chosen examples.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The work demonstrates little and/or inaccurate description of the musical elements and little comparison and contrasting of the chosen examples.
2 The investigation demonstrates some partially satisfactory description and analysis of the musical elements. The work displays some comparison and contrasting of the chosen examples. The investigation may include significant inaccuracies.
3 The investigation demonstrates mostly effective description, analysis and examination of the musical elements. The work displays satisfactory comparison and contrasting of the chosen examples. The investigation is mostly accurate.
4 The investigation demonstrates mostly effective description, analysis and examination of the musical elements. The work displays quite good comparison and contrasting of the chosen examples. The investigation is mostly accurate.
5 The investigation demonstrates effective description, analysis and examination of the musical elements. The work displays good comparison and contrasting of the chosen examples. The investigation is accurate.
6 The investigation consistently demonstrates highly effective description, analysis and examination of the musical elements. The work displays well-focused comparison and contrasting of the chosen examples. The investigation is accurate.
C Musical terminology
This criterion concerns the student’s knowledge of musical terminology and its appropriate use.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The work displays little knowledge and use, if any, of musical terminology.
2 The work displays some knowledge of musical terminology but its use is inaccurate at times.
3 The work mostly displays good knowledge and use of musical terminology.
4 The work consistently displays good knowledge and use of musical terminology.
D Organization and presentation
This criterion concerns the student’s ability to organize and present their material, references, quotations, bibliography and discography within the selected media format and includes the use of sources.
Note: Primary sources must be used.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The organization and presentation do not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The organization and presentation are generally inappropriate. The primary sources used (and secondary, if any) are inappropriate and not properly attributed.
2 The organization and presentation are generally appropriate. Most primary sources used (and secondary, if any) are appropriate and all have been properly attributed.
3 The organization and presentation are appropriate. All primary sources used (and secondary, if any) are appropriate and all have been properly attributed.
E Overall impression
This criterion concerns qualities such as intellectual initiative, depth of understanding and creativity, and the extent of engagement with the intended audience.
Marks Level descriptor
0 The work does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1 The work shows little evidence of the qualities noted above.
2 The work shows some evidence of the qualities noted above.
3 The work mostly shows good evidence of the qualities noted above.
4 The work consistently shows good evidence of the qualities noted above.

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