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By Rhys Lett

VCE Bass Music Solo Performance Exam Guide

This guide will help you understand and prepare for the VCE Music Solo Performance Bass performance exam taking place at the end of unit 4. We hope by giving you a clear understanding of the requirements of the exam will settle your nerves.

You must perform a minimum of 5 songs within the 25 minute exam time. Songs are selected from the list that is available from this link. In 2015 the song list has remained unchanged. From this list you must cover songs from two categories. These categories are pre 1910 and post 1910. Alongside selecting songs from the two categories you must perform on song unaccompanied and

When selecting songs from pre 1910 song and post 1910 categories, specific instructions must be followed when performing songs. Some are required to be played unaccompanied or some require that a backing track must be used. Specific bars may be requested or repeats may be ignored. Make sure you thoroughly read the listed instructions. Consult with your classroom and instrumental teachers for clarification. We are also happy to be contacted if you have further questions about the rules of the exam.

Lets explore the song lists.

Pre 1910 – VCE Bass Exam Music Solo Performance

Pre 1910 songs are all Bach pieces. You must play at least one of the songs from the list in this category. They will test your technical skills of arpeggio and scale playing. Much of this category is written for the double bass and adapted for electric bass.

Included in this category is a Jaco Pastorius version of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy.

Post 1910 – VCE Bass Exam Music Solo Performance

This category contains the history of modern bass playing. Songs range in styles from jazz, rock, soul, pop and world music. Also versions of songs asked for may be specific versions. I have broken down the larger list into style categories. You must make sure your program shows a variety of styles. Knowing what style each tune belongs to will not only reflect on your playing style but also your tone choices. We have sorted songs into categories here to assist you with selection.


Yesterdays – must be accompanied by track or instrumentalist.
All the Things You Are – must be accompanied by track or instrumentalist.
Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me – must be accompanied by track or instrumentalist.
Almost but maybe – must be performed as duet.
Waltz for Doris – must be performed as duet.


All songs in this grouping must be played with a backing track. You can only select two songs from this group to perform in your VCE Bass exam. Song title and artist are listed here.

Iron Man – Iron Maiden.
Peace Sells – Megadeth.
The Trooper – Iron Maiden.
Jeremy – Pearl Jam.
You Oughta Know – Alanis Morrisette.
All I Want to Do – Sheryl Crow.
Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The Thrill is Gone – BB King.
Born Under a Bad Sign – Albert King.
Brick House – The Commodores.
Le Freak – Chic.
Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder.


These songs feature the Motown era that bass master James Jamerson performed as the in house session bassist. I highly recommend including one of these songs in your VCE Bass exam. They must be played with a backing track.

James Jamerson (Motown Songs) – Ain’t nothing like the real thing, For once in my life, Heard it through the Grapevine, Home Cookin’, I was made to love her, What’s going on.


Stanley Clarke – Song to John: Part II, Bass folk song.
Frank Corniola – Bon voyage, Complex city, Fusion boulevard, Highway to funk, Oakland Drive, Odd time journey, Quiet town. These must be played with either the CD track or a drummer.
Lee Ritenour – Rio Funk.
Marcus Miller – Run for Cover.
Yellowjackets – Matinee idol, Rush hour.
Al Jarreau – Boogie down.
Level 42 (Mark King) – Dune Tune.


Yo Me Songo – must use backing track.
Metal Mozamboque – must use backing track.
Blue Cha Cha – must use backing track.
Nigerian marketplace.


These pieces must be played unaccompanied. Also for particular artists you can only perform one of the listed songs.

Jaco Pastorius – Donna Lee, Amerika, Continuum, Portrait of Tracy.
Billy Sheehan – Michelle.
Stu Hamm – Terminal beach.
Victor Wooten – Blu-Bop, Amazing Grace, Classical Thump, Stompin’ Ground, Cherokee.
John Pattitucci – Backwoods, Trane.
Carol Kaye – Come together, Hicky Burr.

Song Selection Tips – VCE Bass Exam Music Solo Performance

When selecting songs do your research. Listen to as many of the songs you can using YouTube or iTunes/Amazon previews. Do not limit your selections purely to songs that you are already aware of. Enjoy the listening experience.

Give yourself the best possibility of gaining the marks you deserve by selecting material that is within your skill limits. As well as relying on playing ability you already have select songs that will stretch your current skills or introduce a new technique.