Bass Guitar
Grade 8

The Grade 8 Guitar exam is for candidates who have mastered advanced technical control and have a thorough grasp of extended stylistic techniques. At Grade 8 this is shown through mature stylistic conviction, consummate 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 exams available at Grade 8, Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 33 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 28 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Bass

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Guitar Grade 8 book is a vital aid to mastering the pro-level material in your exam. Earn those UCAS points and become a pro-level musician by working through the sophisticated techniques and theory in its pages.

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Bass Grade 8

The Bass Grade 8 book will be indispensable as you tackle the complex performance and theoretical...
Graded Music Exam Grade 8

Graded Music Exam: Grade 8

All instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

At Grade 8 the pieces last up to a maximum of 3 minutes 45 seconds. The pieces are over four pages. Emphasis is on complex 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.

Featured Repertoire:

Rockschool Bass ’18 

  • Weather Report – Palladium
  • Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
  • Primus – Tommy The Cat
  • Chaka Khan – Move Me No Mountain
  • David Bowie – Ashes To Ashes
  • Stevie Wonder – Master Blaster

Rockschool Originals 

  • Meet Darth Ear
  • Mind The Gaps
  • Lead Sheet
  • Freightshaker
  • Nosso Samba
  • Dark Matter

Technical Exercises

At Grade 8 there are four groups of technical work. The examiner will ask for a selection from each group, and before starting this section candidates will be asked whether they would like to play the exercises along with the click or hear a single bar of click before commencing the test.

 

GROUP A – Scales/Modes (two octaves in eighth notes)

Tempo: 100 bpm

To be prepared in two positions. The first position is to be prepared on the E string from the starting notes of G-B chromatically. The second position is to be prepared on the A string from the starting notes of C-E chromatically.

  • Whole Tone
  • Diminished
  • Altered

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios (one octave in eighth notes)

Tempo: 100 bpm

To be prepared in two positions. The first position is to be prepared on the E string from the starting notes of G-B chromatically. The second position is to be prepared on the A string from the starting notes of C-E chromatically.

  • Dominant 7#5
  • Dominant 7b5
  • Minor 7b5
  • Dominant 7#9
  • Dominant 7 b9
  • Diminished

 

GROUP C – Chords

To be prepared in two positions. The first position is to be prepared on the E string from the starting notes of G-B chromatically. The second position is to be prepared on the A string from the starting notes of C-E chromatically. Chords should be strummed and then picked (arpeggiated).

  • Dominant 7#5
  • Dominant 7b5
  • Dominant 7#9
  • Dominant 7b9

 

GROUP D – Stylistic Study

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

    • Rock/Metal: crossing strings and alternate picking
    • Funk: chord embellishments and muted strings
    • Jazz/Latin/Blues: legato phrasing and alternate picking

Supporting Tests

Quick Study Piece

At Grade 8 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

There are two tests which are: Melodic Recall and Harmonic Recall.

Melodic Recall

Tempo: 90 bpm
Key: B major pentatonic or C minor pentatonic or B natural minor

The first note of the melody will be either the root, third or fifth note 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 practise 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

Tempo: 90 bpm
Key: A major

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, IIm, IIIm, IV,V and VIm chords and may occur in any combination. The test may also contain Imaj7 and IVmaj7. You will be asked to play the chord sequence to the drum backing in the rhythm shown in the Grade 8 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 practise 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 chords to the drum backing.

General Musicianship Questions

In this part of the exam, you will be asked five questions. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question will be asked about your instrument.

Music Knowledge

In Grade 8, candidates 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 candidates one question regarding their instrument. In Grade 8, candidates will be asked to identify:

  • 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

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 to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates 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.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Digital Files

For the RSL shop we’ve chosen the most widely used media for ease of use and flexibility when transferring across different devices.

Every complete digital book (e.g. Electric Guitar Grade 1) includes:

  • PDF sheet music
  • MP3 audio
  • Supporting tests

Download Limits

We know downloading digital content can be frustrating at times which is why we’ve given you multiple chances to download your audio and sheet music.

Each complete digital book purchased includes:

  • 5 audio downloads
  • 3 sheet music downloadsThis means if you misplace your content, or if your download times-out, you’ll still have plenty of attempts to download your content.

Purchase Options

1. Hard Copy

The hard copy or paperback version can be purchased from our shop for shipping to the UK. Orders for shipping to other countries can be placed via www.musicroom.com. The paperback version includes everything you need for your exam in one essential book, including sheet music, a code for access to MP3 audio and complete supporting tests.

2. Digital Download (where applicable)

Digital downloads is the most popular way of purchasing and downloading a Rockschool book, track or supporting test. Rockschool digital book downloads come complete with PDF sheet music, MP3 audio and supporting tests for instant accessibility on all your favourite devices.

Note: Digital sheet music is stamped with your email address and order number.

3. Digital Download + E-Book Access

The RSL e-books, utilising Learning Platform technology powered by MatchMySound, are the ultimate practise tool, giving you the ability to master your instrument like never before.

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