Enter for your Popular Music Theory exam in four quick steps

The next deadline is 1 May

Popular Music Theory Grade 8

Take Popular Music Theory Grade 8 for a professional test of your notation skills, theoretical understanding, and band analysis within multi-instrumental scores. Master this and you'll have the music-theory grounding to take on any job in the world of rock and pop.

Key Skills at Grade 8

What you'll learn at Grade 8:

  • Complex music notation, time signatures and note values
  • Complex elements of popular music harmony
  • Instrumental components, specialist notation, techniques and stylistic traits
  • How to analyse, identify and modify music notation, harmony, stylistic traits and
  • instrumental characteristics within a multi-instrumental score
  • How to interpret a score to make a range of appropriate harmony choices for improvised music and interpret improvisational directions while demonstrating stylistic awareness

What You're Marked On

Your Popular Music Theory Grade 8 exam lasts 180 minutes and is split into four key sections.

Music Notation

At Grade 8 you will cover the following aspects of music notation:

  • Understanding rhythm: 32nd and 64th notes, and equivalent rests
  • Rhythmic values: halving rhythmic values, doubling rhythmic values, working with less-common time signatures
  • Understanding pitch: enharmonic transpositions
  • Transposing and re-writing scores across different instruments and clefs
  • Understanding time signatures: 5/4, 6/4, 7/4

Popular Music Harmony

At Grade 8 you will cover the following aspects of popular music harmony:

  • Identifying compound intervals
  • Understanding modes: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian
  • Recognising modes and modal differences, and writing out modes in notation
  • Transposing melodies: 2nds, 4ths, 6ths
  • Chord identification: diatonic 11 and 13

Band Knowledge

At Grade 8 you will cover the following aspects of band knowledge:

  • Identification of drum parts
  • Genre-specific techniques used across different instrumental disciplines
  • Identification of guitar and bass guitar parts
  • Understanding the use of music technology with band instruments
  • Understanding instrumental performance technique

Band Analysis

At Grade 8 you will cover the following aspects of band analysis:

  • Understanding scores with up to eight different instruments
  • Understanding instrument-specific techniques
  • Re-writing a score for transposing instruments
  • Chordal analysis and stylistic traits of band and brass instruments
  • Interpreting a score for up to eight players
  • Understating improvisation techniques across instrumental disciplines


Your Grade 8 exam lasts 180 minutes. Candidates are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes before their exam starts.

Get Started Today!

You can start working towards your Grade 8 exam now! Simply buy or Grade 6 - 8 Guidebook and corresponding Grade 8 Workbook book below and start preparing alongside your music teacher.

If you don't have a music teacher that can help you with music theory, you can quickly find the perfect teacher nearest to you with our handy find a music teacher map.

Books for Popular Music Theory Grade 8

  • Guidebook Grade 6 - 8 Book Cover Guidebook Grade 6 - 8

    Rockschool's Guidebooks are the ideal introduction to music theory for musicians, composers, students and teachers.

  • Workbook Grade 8 Book Cover Workbook Grade 8

    The Rockschool Grade 8 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 8 theory exam.