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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. As a result, we hope 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. Categories names were updated in 2019. Therefore, they are now called Baroque (pre 1910 previously) and Original Works (post 1910). You must cover songs from the two categories. In addition, you must perform one song unaccompanied.

Specific instructions must be followed when performing songs. For example, some are required to be played unaccompanied or require that a backing track must be used. Further, specific bars may be requested or repeats may be ignored. Therefore, make sure you thoroughly read the listed instructions. Consult with your classroom and instrumental teachers for clarification. Contact us if you have further questions about the rules of the exam through the chat box or calling 0421 705 150.

Lets explore the song lists.

Baroque – VCE Bass Exam Music Solo Performance

The Baroque 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. As a result, it may include techniques you are unfamiliar with.

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

Original Works – VCE Bass Exam Music Solo Performance

This category contains the history of modern bass playing. Consequently, songs range in styles from jazz, rock, soul, pop and world music. Also specific versions of songs may be asked for. I have broken down the larger list into style categories. Make sure your program shows a variety of styles. Importantly, knowing what style each tune belongs. As a result, show your understanding in your performance and your tone choices.


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 – Black Sabbath.

Peace Sells – Megadeth.

The Trooper – Iron Maiden.

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.

Unholy Confession, Afterlife – Avenged Sevenfold.

Hey Joe, All Along the Watchtower, Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix.

Know Your Enemy – Rage Against the Machine.

Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz.

You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon.


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. Also, they must be played with a backing track.

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.


These songs will demonstrate your slap technique. In contrast, your tone should also contrast what you used on the Rock song selections.

Song to John: Part II, Bass folk song – Stanley Clarke.

Bon voyage, Complex City, Fusion Boulevard, Highway to Funk, Oakland Drive, Odd Time Journey, Quiet Town – Frank Corniola. These must be played with either the CD track or a drummer.

Rio Funk – Lee Ritenour. 

Run for Cover – Marcus Miller.

Matinee idol, Rush Hour – Yellowjackets

Boogie down – Al Jarreau.

Dune Tune – Level 42 (Mark King).

Modadji – Dave Grusin.

Cissy Strut – The Meters.

What Is Hip – Tower of Power.

Jerry Was a Race Car Driver – Primus.


South American based songs feature in this area. Therefore, the focus is on the rhythm features from this area of the world.

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.

Donna Lee, Amerika, Continuum, Portrait of Tracy – Jaco Pastorius.

Michelle – Billy Sheehan.

Terminal Beach – Stu Hamm.

Blu-Bop, Amazing Grace, Classical Thump, Stompin’ Ground, Cherokee – Victor Wooten.

Backwoods – John Pattitucci.

Come Together, Hicky Burr – Carol Kaye.

Song Selection Tips – VCE Bass Exam Music Solo Performance

When selecting songs do your research. Certainly, 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. Above all, enjoy the listening experience.

Give yourself the best possibility of gaining the marks you deserve by selecting material that is within your skill limits. Most importantly, select songs that will stretch your current skills or introduce a new technique.