Bass Grade 7

The Grade 7 Bass exam is for candidates who have developed advanced technical control and have a thorough grasp of extended stylistic techniques. At Grade 7 this is shown through mature stylistic conviction, execution of rhythmic complexity, mature and creative stylistic solo and improvisation work as well as a commanding sense of communication and performance. There are two types of exam available at Grade 7, Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Exam time

Grade Exam: 33 minutes (approx.)
Performance Certificate: 25 minutes (approx.)

Key Features at: Grade 7

  • Intricate fingerstyle, montuno lines, harmonics
  • Lydian, Phrygian mode, Major scale and Jazz Melodic Minor scale, Major 9th, Minor 9th and Dominant 9th arpeggios
  • Dominant 7th, Major 7th and Minor 7th chords
  • Stylistic Study
  • Session work

Buy Your Book

The Bass Grade 7 book will help you on your way to mastering the challenging techniques and theory you'll come across in your Grade 7 exam, which will earn you UCAS points towards a university application.

VISIT THE STORE

Bass Grade 7 Cover

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces
(two of which may be Free Choice Pieces)
Candidates choose to play either
Performance Pieces or Technical
Exercises first
These account
for 60% of the
exam mark
Technical Exercises
(Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications)
Candidates choose to play either
Performance Pieces or Technical
Exercises first
These account
for 15% of the
exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation
Debut–Grade 5
Candidates are given an unseen
test to prepare and perform
This accounts
for 10% of the exam marks
Quick Study Pieces
Grade 6–8
Candidates are given an unseen
test to prepare and perform
These account
for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear TestsCandidates respond to 2 aural tests.These account
for 10% of the
exam marks
5 General Musicianship QuestionsCandidates answer 5 questions based
on one of the pieces performed
These account
for 5% of the
exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only
(three of these can be Free Choice Pieces)
These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Performance Pieces

At Grade 7 the pieces last up to a maximum of 3 minutes 10 seconds. The pieces are over four pages. Emphasis is on notation accuracy, commanding execution of stylistic techniques and technical control, mature and creative solo and improvisation elements and a clear sense of ownership and communication of the music through performance.

Rockschool Bass '18

  • Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
  • Tower of Power - Only So Much Oil In The Ground
  • Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
  • D'Angelo - Spanish Joint
  • Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know
  • Snarky Puppy - Lingus 

Rockschool Originals

  • Reborn
  • Seeing Is Deceiving
  • The Pants Era
  • Thumb King
  • Buena Havana
  • Rooster

Technical Exercises

At Grade 7 level there are four groups of technical work. The examiner will ask a selection from each group and before you start the section you will be asked whether you would like to play the exercises along with the click or hear a single bar of click before you commence the test.

GROUP A - Scales/Modes

  • Major (two octaves in eighth notes): G
  • Modes to be prepared in two positions. (one octave in eighth notes)
  • Lydian: F, Bb, D, Eb
  • Phrygian: F, Bb, D, Eb
  • Jazz melodic minor: F, Bb, D, Eb

GROUP B - Arpeggios (One octave in eighth notes)

  • Major 9th: F, Bb, D, Eb
  • Minor 9th: F, Bb, D, Eb
  • Dominant 9th: F, Bb, D, Eb

GROUP C - Chords

  • High register chords
  • Dominant 7th: E, A
  • Major 7th: E, A
  • Minor 7th: E, A

GROUP D - Stylistic Study

You will prepare a technical study from one group of styles from the list below. Your choice of style will determine the style of the Quick Study Piece. Each study concentrates on two stylistic techniques.

  • Rock/Metal: pedal tones and legato phrasing
  • Funk: 16th note slap grooves and string crossing
  • Jazz/Latin/Blues: natural harmonics and arpeggios

Supporting Tests

Quick Study Piece 

At grade 7 you will be asked to prepare and play a Quick Study Piece. The style of your QSP is determined by the stylistic study you selected in the technical exercise section. You will be shown the test and played the track with the notated parts played. Any bars that require improvisation will not be demonstrated. You will then have three minutes to study the test. The backing track will be played twice more. You are allowed to practise during the first run through of the backing track, with the notated parts now absent, before playing it to the examiner on the second playing of the backing track. The QSP is in the form of a lead sheet and it is up to you to create your own interpretation of the music in the parts marked for improvisation.

Ear Tests

Melodic Recall

Key: Bb major pentatonic or D minor pentatonic or F natural minor
Tempo: 90 bpm

The first note of the melody will be either the root note or fifth and the first interval will be either ascending or descending. You will play the melody back on your instrument. You will hear the test twice.

Each time the test is played the sequence is: count-in, root note, count-in, melody. There will be a short gap for you to practice after you have heard the test for the second time. You will hear the count-in and root note for the third time followed by a vocal count-in and you will then play the melody to the bass and drum backing

Harmonic Recall

Key: A major
Tempo: 90 bpm

The examiner will play you a tonic chord followed by a four bar chord sequence in the key of A major played to a guitar and drum backing. The sequence will be drawn from the I, ii, iii, IV, V and vi chords and may occur in any combination. The test may also contain iim7, iiim7 and vim7. You will be asked to play the chord sequence to the drum backing in the rhythm shown in the Grade 7 book. This rhythm will be used in all examples of this test given in the exam. You will then be asked to identify the chord sequence you have played to the examiner. You will hear the test twice.

Each time the test is played the sequence is: count-in, tonic, count-in, chords. There will be a short gap for you to practice after you have heard the test for the second time. You will hear the count-in and tonic for the third time followed by a vocal count-in then you will play the root notes in the rhythm to the drum backing.

General Musicianship Questions

Music Knowledge

For this section of the exam the candidate chooses the piece to answer 5 questions on. The examiner will ask you four music knowledge questions and one instrument knowledge question.

In Grade 7 you will be asked to identify:

  • The names of pitches
  • Any expressive musical marking found in the piece such as palm muting, accents, staccato, legato, slap (T) and pull (P)markings, and natural harmonics
  • Any dynamic marking found in the piece
  • One type of scale that can be used appropriately in the solo section of the piece you have played and its relation to the underlying harmony of the piece

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask you one question regarding your instrument.

In Grade 7 you will be asked to explain and demonstrate:

  • Where to find the same pitch on two different strings
  • The function of the volume and tone controls on your bass
  • The set up for the tone required for the piece you have played on the amp
  • How to achieve changes in tone in a song

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMerit Distinction
Mark Range0-1112-1415-1718-20
Grade Descriptor• Incomplete performance
• No attempt
• Advanced techniques hesitant and/or incorrect
• Rhythm/pulse mostly inaccurate
• Notation/harmonic work hesitant and/or incorrect
• Stylistic direction hesitant and/or incorrect
• Solo/improv limited in stylistic understanding
• Sync largely not achieved
• Hesitant in understanding of musical structure
• Communicating of stylistic performance not achieved
• Some advanced techniques shown
• Generally secure rhythm/pulse
• Notation/harmonic accuracy observed
• Some stylistic direction observed
• Solo/improv with some stylistic conviction
• Sync evident
• General understanding of musical structure
• Some sense of communication through stylistic performance
• Secure advanced techniques overall
• Secure rhythm/pulse overall
• Detailed notation/harmonic accuracy observed overall
• Stylistic direction observed overall
• Convincing and stylistic solo/improv overall
• Mainly synchronised
• Secure understanding of complete musical structure
• Good sense of communication through stylistic performance
• Consistent and secure advanced techniques
• Consistent rhythm/pulse
• Notation / harmonic accuracy detailed throughout
• Stylistic direction detailed throughout
• Advanced solo/improv with stylistic conviction
• Consistent sync
• Comprehensive understanding of complete musical structure
• Convincing communication through stylistic performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMerit Distinction
Mark Range0-89-1011-1213-15
Grade Descriptor• Incomplete performance
• No attempt
• Advanced techniques hesitant and/or incorrect
• Rhythm/pulse mostly inaccurate
• Notation/harmonic work hesitant and/or incorrect
• Stylistic direction hesitant and/or incorrect
• Solo/improv limited in stylistic understanding
• Sync largely not achieved
• Hesitant in understanding of musical structure
• Communicating of stylistic performance not achieved
• Some advanced techniques shown
• Generally secure rhythm/pulse
• Notation/harmonic accuracy observed
• Some stylistic direction observed
• Solo/improv with some stylistic conviction
• Sync evident
• General understanding of musical structure
• Some sense of communication through stylistic performance
• Secure advanced techniques overall
• Secure rhythm/pulse overall
• Detailed notation/harmonic accuracy observed overall
• Stylistic direction observed overall
• Convincing and stylistic solo/improv overall
• Mainly synchronised
• Secure understanding of complete musical structure
• Good sense of communication through stylistic performance
• Consistent and secure advanced techniques
• Consistent rhythm/pulse
• Notation/harmonic accuracy detailed throughout
• Stylistic direction detailed throughout
• Advanced solo/improv with stylistic conviction
• Consistent sync
• Comprehensive understanding of complete musical structure
• Convincing communication through stylistic performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-567-89-10
Grade Descriptor• No attempt
• Responses not offered
• Notation/pitch largely inaccurate
• Rhythm/pulse largely inaccurate
• Improv/solo largely absent or inappropriate
• Sync largely absent
• Responses vague or incorrect

• Notation/pitch accuracy evident
• Rhythm/pulse evident
• Improv/solo evident and generally appropriate
• Sync evident
• Adequate Responses
• Notation/pitch correct overall
• Secure rhythm/pulse overall
• Improv/Solo convincing overall
• Mainly synchronized
• Accurate responses overall
• Notation/pitch accuracy correct throughout
•Consistent rhythm/pulse
• Convincing improv/solo throughout
• Consistent sync
• Accurate responses

Supporting Tests (Sight Reading OR Improvisation/Interpretation)

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-567-89-10
Grade Descriptor• No attempt
• Responses not offered
• Notation/pitch largely inaccurate
• Rhythm/pulse largely inaccurate
• Improv/solo largely absent or inappropriate
• Sync largely absent
• Responses vague or incorrect

• Notation/pitch accuracy evident
• Rhythm/pulse evident
• Improv/solo evident and generally appropriate
• Sync evident
• Adequate Responses
• Notation/pitch correct overall
• Secure rhythm/pulse overall
• Improv/Solo convincing overall
• Mainly synchronized
• Accurate responses overall
• Notation/pitch accuracy correct throughout
•Consistent rhythm/pulse
• Convincing improv/solo throughout
• Consistent sync
• Accurate responses

Supporting Tests (General Musicianship Questions) 

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-2345
Grade Descriptor• No attempt
• Responses not offered
• Notation/pitch largely inaccurate
• Rhythm/pulse largely inaccurate
• Improv/solo largely absent or inappropriate
• Sync largely absent
• Responses vague or incorrect

• Notation/pitch accuracy evident
• Rhythm/pulse evident
• Improv/solo evident and generally appropriate
• Sync evident
• Adequate Responses
• Notation/pitch correct overall
• Secure rhythm/pulse overall
• Improv/Solo convincing overall
• Mainly synchronized
• Accurate responses overall
• Notation/pitch accuracy correct throughout
•Consistent rhythm/pulse
• Convincing improv/solo throughout
• Consistent sync
• Accurate responses

Supporting Tests (Quick Study Piece) 

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-567-89-10
Grade Descriptor• No attempt
• Responses not offered
• Notation/pitch largely inaccurate
• Rhythm/pulse largely inaccurate
• Improv/solo largely absent or inappropriate
• Sync largely absent
• Responses vague or incorrect

• Notation/pitch accuracy evident
• Rhythm/pulse evident
• Improv/solo evident and generally appropriate
• Sync evident
• Adequate Responses
• Notation/pitch correct overall
• Secure rhythm/pulse overall
• Improv/Solo convincing overall
• Mainly synchronized
• Accurate responses overall
• Notation/pitch accuracy correct throughout
•Consistent rhythm/pulse
• Convincing improv/solo throughout
• Consistent sync
• Accurate responses

Additional Information

The Value of RSL Qualifications

RSL advocates an open access approach to qualifications, providing a range of syllabi, designed to accommodate a wide variety of candidates of different ages, experience and levels of achievement. RSL awards qualifications that are listed on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). RSL is committed to maintaining and improving its reputation for excellence by providing high quality education and training through its syllabi, examinations, music and resources.

UCAS Points

For students applying for work or University, many potential employers see graded music exams in a very positive way. Recognised qualifications demonstrate an ability to dedicate commitment to extra–curricular activities, providing evidence of versatility which many students find beneficial within UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service) applications and for university entrance interviews. Our qualifications carry allocated points on the UCAS tariff.

Selecting Free Choice Pieces (FCP’s)

For all examinations, candidates are able to play a number of Free Choice Pieces.

Free Choice Pieces must demonstrate a comparable level of technical and musical demand to the pieces given in the set selections in the grade books which can be referred to as an indication of appropriate level.

Free choice pieces must be in a modern popular genre such as Pop, Rock, Jazz, Country, Blues, Soul, Reggae, Film and Musical Theatre. Own compositions are also acceptable.

Pieces should be selected carefully to ensure that the pieces provide suitable opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the relevant assessment criteria. Candidates are reminded that if a chosen Free Choice Piece does not meet these requirements this may impact on the level of achievement possible within the examination.

All pieces must be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track) except in case where pieces have been selected from previous Rockschool syllabi and do not have backing track or have been specifically arranged by Rockschool as solo pieces.

Instrument Specification

Candidates are reminded that it is their responsibility to select and provide an appropriate musical instrument for each syllabus to allow demonstration of the relevant stylistic and technical skills within their performance. At all levels of examination, if any outcomes or assessed criteria cannot be demonstrated or are demonstrated less securely as a result of the equipment, this may be reflected in the marks awarded.

Bass Syllabus

Get a copy of the Debut - Grade 8 syllabus:

Bass Syllabus (1.4MB, .pdf)

Find a centre

We have exam centres all across the UK and in 38 other countries around the globe. Find your nearest UK centre.

Find a teacher

Looking for a teacher in your region? We can help! Find a teacher near you via our extensive online database.

Find a teacher

Dates & Fees

Next exam period:

23 October 18 - 15 December 18

Next Closing Date

15 January 19

View All Exam Dates

Exam Fee

£80.00

View All Exam Fees