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Hey there!

I have a question regarding the MLI. Is it really a big deal if the chosen pieces are inappropriate?

So I was looking at the criteria, and the only criterion that affects the chosen pieces is criterion A. The rest are independent, or so it seems (it's never explicitly stated).

For instance, criterion A tells us that "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.".

However, if we look at the grading, and separate each mark, we can see that if you were to achieve 1 mark, that means your chosen pieces are inappropriate and/or the links stated are not stated (in this case, 2 musical links are expected).

If you were to achieve the 3 marks, it means that the student was able to properly identify separate musical cultures that are clearly different from each other, and that they share two (or more) significant links.

That means that someone can choose two cultures that are perfect for what the IB is asking, though the musical links are poor and lack any in-depth analysis, which could, either way, result in 1 mark. Now, someone could choose two pieces that belong to the exact same cultures, yet, the identified musical links are excellent for what the IB is asking, though it does not meet the requirements of having two different cultures, would score 1 mark.

Quickly revising every single criterion:

  • Criterion B is "analysis and comparison of musical elements": this includes duration, pitch, timbre/tone color, texture, dynamics, form, and structure. Where to achieve the highest marks possible, one would have to "demonstrate a highly effective description, analysis, and examination of the musical elements, in relation to its comparison and contrast between the chosen examples".
  • Criterion C is "musical terminology": this is solely for the student's knowledge of musical terminology and its appropriate use. Achieving 4 marks would be: "The work consistently displays good knowledge and use of musical terminology.".
  • Criterion D is "organization and presentation", stating that "student's ability to organize and present their material, references, quotations, bibliography, and discography". Having an appropriate organization and presentation alongside its sources would yield the highest marks possible (3).
  • Criterion E is "overall impression": concerning "qualities such as intellectual initiative, depth of understanding and creativity, and the extent of engagement with the intended audience.". For 4 marks, one would need to write their work "consistently showing good evidence of the qualities noted above.".

None of the criteria apart from Criterion A and possibly Criterion E, state a correlation between the criteria being worked on and its grading influenced by the chosen cultures. That means that someone who even though chose two cultures that are not (or barely) appropriate for the MLI, only one criterion would be affected. You can have a good analysis, establishing strong links, a great presentation, and organization, with flawless musical terminology, yet the musical cultures you chose are not appropriate (thus having 1 mark on criterion A, while possibly having the highest marks possible on every other single criterion).

Is this the case?

Thanks in advance.

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