Music Technology in Context. 

This component covers how Music Technology has changed over time and what impact it has had on the music industry.

Component 3 Music Technology in Context Exam of the Edexcel Music Technology A Level tests a student’s ability to analyse and understand various musical pieces and styles.

The exam is composed of both a listening and a written component, where the student must demonstrate their understanding of musical elements, structures, and technologies used in the pieces.

The exam typically lasts for 2 hours and the student must answer a series of questions based on pre-released musical extracts.

Covering elements such as the development of recording, the electric guitar, the digital era and much more, this component will give you an understanding of the importance that Music technology has on the musical creative process.


Example question: Analyse the use of technology in the introduction of the piece “Cyberspace” by Virtual Insanity.

Exemplar answer:

In the introduction of “Cyberspace” by Virtual Insanity, technology plays a significant role in creating the overall sound and atmosphere of the piece. The use of synthesizers and DAW is evident from the beginning, as the introduction opens with a sequence of sci-fi-inspired electronic sounds that set the stage for the rest of the piece.

The use of reverb and echo effects on the synthesizer sounds creates a sense of spaciousness, adding to the futuristic vibe of the piece. Additionally, the use of automated control devices, such as the modulation wheel, allows for real-time manipulation of the sounds and adds a dynamic element to the introduction.

Overall, the technology used in the introduction of “Cyberspace” helps to create a futuristic and surreal atmosphere, which sets the tone for the rest of the piece and helps to convey the theme of technology and its impact on society.

The following resources detail the necessary knowledge to succeed on the exam.







Misc. Technology

Here are some resources for preparing for the AS C3 exam.

C3 AS Exam Materials 2018

C3 AS Exam Practice Questions

Here are some resources for preparing for the A Level C3 exam.

C3 A Level Exam 2019 Material

C3 A level Exam Practice Questions

These are all the topics that are needed to be understood for both the C3 & C4 Exams

Music styles

Students should have knowledge and understanding of the instruments, the sounds associated with them and the combination of instruments and voices used in the following styles:

  • jazz
  • blues
  • rock ’n’ roll
  • rock
  • metal
  • punk
  • soul
  • disco and funk
  • reggae
  • acoustic and folk
  • commercial pop
  • urban
  • electronic and dance
  • music for the media
  • computer game and film.
  • Direct to tape mono recording (c.1930 – 1963).
  • Early multitrack recording (c.1964 – 1969)
  • Large-scale analogue multitrack (c.1969 – 1995)
  • Digital recording and sequencing (c.1980 – present day)
  • Digital audio workstations (DAW) and emerging technologies (c.1996 – present day)
  • Gain structure and signal-to-noise ratio
  • Microphone types (including pickup patterns) and how microphones work
  • Microphone placement (suitable distances and angles for various instruments), proximity effect, phasing issues when using multiple mics
  • Microphone preamps
  • Stereo recording techniques
  • Acoustics (Properties of rooms, psycho-acoustics, how to counteract unwanted acoustics)
  • Reverb time (RT60)
  • Leads (Balanced, unbalanced)
  • Impedance (Mic, Instrument, Line level) and using a DI box
  • Audio interfaces
  • Removing noise, hiss, hum, plosives
  • Correcting rhythmic and pitch mistakes
  • Time stretching
  • EQ (High / Low pass, shelving filters, parametric EQ, using EQ to correct mistakes)
  • EQ (Resonance, Q-factor, bandwidth, Graphic EQ)
  • The difference between Analogue and digital clipping
  • Normalising and inverting waveforms (comp 4 only)
  • Oscillators (waveform types, course / fine tuning)
  • LFO, Filters and Envelopes
  • Pitch bend range
  • Monophonic, Polyphonic
  • Portamento (glide) and Arpeggiators
  • Mapping envelope and LFO to filter and pitch (comp 4 only)
  • Pitch mapping
  • Editing samples and looping
  • Sample rate and bit depth (and how this effects sound quality)
  • Limitations of early samplers with limited memory
  • Using synthesis parameters on samples, envelope, filters, LFO (comp 4 only)
  • Velocity layering (comp 4 only)
  • Finding zero crossings (comp 4 only)
  • Quantising (swing time quantising, suitable quantise values)
  • Piano roll editing
  • Using a MIDI controller for real time input
  • How MIDI works, data bytes, note on/off, continuous controllers etc. (comp 4 only)
Dynamic Processing
  • Compression (ratio, threshold, attack, release, make up gain)
  • Side chain compression / ducking
  • Gating (threshold, attack, release, reduction range)
  • Limiting, expansion, de-essing
  • Wet / dry and bypass settings
  • Reverb (Natural, plate, spring, digital hardware and software, convolution, reverb time)
  • Delay (single / multitap, slapback, timed, ping pong / stereo delay)
  • Delay time, feedback, ADT
  • Modulated delay (Flange, phaser, chorus, LFO rate and depth, feedback)
  • Wah wah pedal (band pass filters)
  • Distortion (overdrive, fuzz, gain/drive, tone) and amp modelling plug-ins
  • Tremolo (LFO rate and depth)
  • Vocal effects (Vocoder, autotune as an effect, response time)
  • Lo-fi effects (Bit crusher, vinyl emulation, telephone EQ, ambient/found sound)
  • Drawing and analysing graphs of compression and gating (comp 4 only)
  • Limiting
  • Master reverb
  • Master EQ (High shelf, high pass / rumble filter)
Digital software / hardware
  • Graphical user interfaces (GUI)
  • Analogue to digital conversion
  • DAW (Real-time processing, destructive / non-destructive editing)
  • Software instruments
  • Digital tape (ADAT)
  • Digital hardware effects units
Analogue hardware
  • Valves; soft clipping; tape saturation
  • Solid state (transistor) amplifiers/distortion for hard-clipping
  • Maintenance issues and variations in frequency/pitch
  • Tape (editing and splicing, multitrack tape formats)
  • Analogue FX (tape delay, bucket brigade, spring / plate reverb, Leslie speaker, vinyl scratching, pitch and reversing using tape / vinyl)
  • Analogue synths (advantages / disadvantages, patching, modules)
  • Analogue drum machines
  • Electric instruments (Guitar, bass, Theremin, Mellotron, electric organ/piano, Clavinet)
  • Mixing desks (Aux sends, insert points, sub groups, channel strips)


  • Numeracy (units, calculating frequency)
  • Analogue consumer formats (Vinyl, tape cassettes , mono and stereo releases)
  • Digital consumer formats (CD, mp3/m4a, High-definition masters, bit rate)
  • Speaker technology, how speakers work (comp 4 only)
  • Digital leads and connections, USB, Firewire, thunderbolt
  • Decibel scales, peak and RMS (comp 4 only)
  • Calculating binary, converting MIDI values to binary (comp 4 only)