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Sample Answer Aural Perception Section B, IBDP Exam

Getting the students prepared for the listening exam takes practice. Lots of it! Since I have been teaching this course for several years, we have kept the exam papers from the past. This way, I have easy access to material for my class.

From the November 2014 exam, I have taken the "Dixit Dominus" by Georg Friedrich Händel. You can find a link to the Youtube and the score on Petrucci.

In order to create a reasonable sample answer, I have set myself a time limit of 30 minutes and did my best to answer in one of the format suggested by the examiners.

Caveat: this is NOT a complete analysis. I am fully aware that I could have missed many features, which are obvious when you have more time to study this section in detail. However, as I followed the time frame our students have for it, this is (in my humble opinion) an acceptable answer.

Musical Elements:

Sacred choral work for SSATB choir, sung in Latin, accompanied by a string orchestra consisting of 2 violins, 2 (!) violas and a basso continuo group.

Written in g minor, following functional diatonic harmonies, frequent use of perfect cadences.

Text is mainly syllabic, with a melismatic section (bar 42 -45)

Consists of both homophonic and contrapuntal sections

Melodic features include sequences, imitation, suspensions and the use of antiphony.

Basso Continuo group is notated using figured bass techniques.

Simple quadruple time

Musical Context:


This piece uses the typical feature of the basso continuo group - a group of instruments serving as foundation of the composition. While it is not clearly defined in the score, one could assume that typically, this group consisted of a keyboard instrument (such as harpsichord or organ) and a low string instrument (such as a gamba or baroque cello). At times, one could also see a bassoon or a theorba added to this group. The numbers below the bass notes indicate the chords (figured bass) to be played. The instrumentalists were used to ornament and execute these chords according to the current conventions.


Georg Friedrich Händel was a German composer of the late Baroque period. His most successful time was spent in London. He is famous for a variety of compositions consisting of operas, oratorios, anthems, concerti grossi and organ concertos. He is most famous for the Water Music and the Oratorio “Messiah”.

This piece could possibly be an extract from an oratorio due to the use of latin text as well as the use of soli/choir and instrumental accompaniment.


This piece shows several typical features of Baroque music such as the unity of mood within the movement and the return of a specific rhythmical pattern (𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝅘𝅥𝅯) throughout the movement. (Forgive me for the incorrect beams - still working on that one)

The relationship between the keys of the different sections (g minor, Bflat major and d minor) also follow conventions of the time.

Musical Structure:

Overall form is Ritornello form, with distinct sections.

Bar 1-17 Ritornello, instrumental introduction, g minor, regular phrasing, imitation between violin 1 and violin 2, no indication of dynamics (usual at that time).

Bar 6,7,8 chromatic descending line in the bass.

General use of sequence and modulation resolving in perfect cadence bar 17-18 to prepare for the choir entry.

Bar 18-22 Chorus enters with Altos – homophonic and declamatory, syllabic. Antiphonal writing between altos and other voices.

Bar 23-28 B flat major! Varied repeat of chorus opening – imitative entries repeat and material.

Bar 29-32 Sopranos accompanied by basso continuo and solo violin sequence. Use of antiphony.

Bar 33-37 Altos accompanied by basso continuo and solo violin –


Bar 38-41 new key d minor. Variations of opening chorus – imitative entries between tenor and bass, with other parts declamatory.

Bar 42-46 return to Bflat major, new imitative section, suspensions and sequence.

Bar 47-51 Bflat major (relative to g minor ) Cadential section - instrumental only. Fragment of opening ritornello used and some elements from previous section.