Introduction to Music Studies
The module introduces you to the way in which music is studied and the principal theories and philosophies of current music study. The broad academic field of music study is interrogated through an exploration of its major sub-disciplines: their roots, philosophies, methods and applications.
Theory, Style and Analysis
The module familiarises you with tonal music theory, formal analysis and the more general foundation of music analysis, in the context of historical style and genre. The principles of tonality are explored interactively: not only its rules and processes, but also the practical, historical, psychological and cultural reasons behind those rules and processes in specific contexts.
This module builds on your experience of practical musicianship, developing skills essential for practical work in Years 2 and 3, but also skills important for music graduates (in performing, teaching, and composing, in particular). Skills covered typically include harmonisation, transposition, improvisation, playing by ear, score-reading, sight singing, and conducting. You will take part in a series of workshops in which musicianship skills are identified and developed, with an emphasis on learning through doing, and problem solving. You will develop practical skills through engaging with a wide range of musical materials and repertoire from different musical genres.
Either/both Performance and/or Projects in Composition (see below)
Years 2 and 3
In Years 2 and 3 you develop knowledge and skills in your chosen topic areas, supported by three core modules, Creative Industry Skills, Styles and Ideas, and Content and Context.
Styles and Ideas
This module allows you to familiarise yourself with fundamental concepts and approaches to music history and repertoire. You study set works through a variety of analytical approaches, including cultural, structural, harmonic and philosophical. These works come from a range of styles and genres, and typically include: music regarded as part of a stylistic ‘canon’ (the concept of which is challenged).. You will develop your aural analysis skills through close listening as well as your historical, critical, analytical and stylistic awareness.
Content and Context
This module aims to broaden and deepen your understanding of music, building on work in Styles and Ideas. You will examine specific musical works from a range of styles and genres, concentrating particularly on those works regarded as outside of any kind of ‘canon’ of musical works. You will study the musical works in depth, along with the cultures that produced them and some of their philosophical and psychological implications.. The approach to music in this module will enable you to understand and use techniques and perspectives developed in the New Musicology era.. You will further develop your aural analysis skills through close listening as well as your historical, critical, analytical and stylistic awareness.
Creative Industry Skills
The aim of the module is to equip students with a range of practical, creative skills in music that are related to, and appropriate for, a range of professional settings. These may include, but may not be limited to, recording, editing, mixing, music technology, arranging, conducting, jazz improvisation, ensemble rehearsal and recital, and composition. Students will work to develop their own projects in two of these skills, while learning about the creative and professional contexts in which they may go on to apply them. Where appropriate, students will be encouraged to develop their work for public presentation; professional standards of preparation and presentation relevant to their chosen creative disciplines will be assessed along with their creative practice.
Topic areas include: Performance, Composition, Sound Arts, Composition for Film and Media, Education, Health and Wellbeing, Musicology, Analysis, and Interdisciplinary Study.
Core modules in Year 3 involve project work, allowing you to pursue projects of interest to you through supervised independent study.
Students will chose two 20 credit modules in three areas (see below), to equal 120 credits.
The Performance module in Year 1 is designed to deepen and develop your understanding and employment of both executant and interpretative skills in the study of your specialist instrument or voice. Alongside the cultivation of your own instrumental skills, you will gain experience in preparation for performance; with a focus on individual development. You will explore issues such as performance anxiety, self-awareness, and communication. Performing skills will be cultivated through experience, as students prepare and present their work for one another. The process of performance will be the object of reflection in seminars and lectures, as you learn to situate your work within relevant stylistic traditions, and to consider the connections between theory and practice.
Projects in Composition
This module aims to provide you with a broad understanding of directions in musical thinking after 1950 and some related compositional techniques. It covers a number of stylistic approaches, typically including to harmony, form, notation and sound. There is in-depth focus on particular musical examples, within a wide range of repertoire composed after 1950. This allows you to develop a theoretical knowledge of composers and works, as well as contemporary ‘art music’ movements of Western Europe and the United States. You will engage directly with primary musical sources through listening, analysis, composition and performance exercises, and with theoretical issues related to the music through studying the writings of key composers and secondary analytical texts.
Music, Science and Technology
You will study a range of music’s scientific and technological contexts. Musical materials, tools and activities are examined through historical developments in science and technology. You will explore topics such as acoustics, the physiology of the ear, the ancient link between music and number, tuning and temperament, the influence of science on the development of music theory in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, electronic music and instruments, and recording technologies in music and music study. You will develop critical and analytical skills through making connections between music and scientific thought and gain a deeper understanding of music’s reliance on technology and scientific foundations.
Music in Society
You will develop a critical understanding of the social and cultural contexts of music. Taking a broadly sociological perspective, you will examine practitioners, audiences and consumers of music through history and in a range of societies, and will investigate the social factors influencing the status of a given music at a given time and place. You will explore music-sociological issues through studying a number of specific topics such as commercialisation, links between music and social class, and ‘political’ uses of music. You will develop critical and analytical skills through making connections between music and society and gain a deeper understanding of music’s role in everyday life.
Music Industry Fundamentals
This module explores the background, structure and organisation of the music industry enabling you to reflect upon your own potential role within it. This includes the concepts of intellectual property and copyright, the development and production of recorded music and the marketing and distribution of finished product together with the requirements regarding performance and promotion. Also included is an examination of both the operation of major and independent record companies and DIY releases together with the marketing of music from both composers and performing artists. The module introduces you to the legal framework within which music is composed, performed, recorded and licensed through a consideration of copyright and publishing and of the industry bodies that exist to support, promote and protect the composition, performance and recorded rights owners.
Audio Sequencing and Recording
This module explores the applications and techniques of MIDI and audio sequencing with a focus on commercial music recording and production methods, such as the practical production of demo-format recordings required for Songwriting. Through in-class exercises and project work you will develop a practical ability in the use of sequencing software and the skills to produce stereo masters that combine MIDI and audio sources in an effective and creative way.
This module focuses on interdisciplinary working and the devising process. The investigation and development of ideas through exploration tasks is central to the work you will produce. You will study mainstream/traditional devising devices and compositional structures and be introduced to aspects of production and design. In interdisciplinary groups (which may include students from music, performing arts, dance and drama) you will create a devised performance piece from a given stimuli.
This module aims to deepen and develop your understanding and employment of executant and interpretative skills in your own specialist instrument or voice. Emphasis will be placed on critical self-awareness as you reflect on your own progress and development as a performer. In particular, you will focus on the development of effective practice strategies and a more independent approach to your learning. This will provide a solid foundation for the Advanced Performance module, where you will be required to prepare a programme of advanced repertoire for a public recital.
This module builds on Intermediate Performance and aims to deepen and develop your understanding and employment of executant and interpretative skills in your own specialist instrument or voice. You will work independently and reflectively in the preparation of a programme of advanced repertoire for a public recital. As you gain experience in the preparation for concert performance, you will address issues such as stage conduct, programme planning, the preparation of programme notes, and communication.
Techniques of Composition
The module aims to develop your practical and technical skills in contemporary composition. Focussing on contemporary chamber music, multimedia composition, experimental music, or jazz, you will explore the techniques offered by the module within your area of interest through group and individual tutorials. You will build on work completed in Year 1 ‘Projects in Composition’ through guided technical exercises and compositional projects. You will gain a firm basis of compositional technique that will equip you to approach creative projects with confidence and professionalism. The module also focuses on developing idiomatic writing for instruments, orchestration skills, a professional level of notational competence, rhythmic construction, pitch construction, harmony, texture, and form.
Creative Strategies for Composition
Building on ‘Techniques of Composition’, this module engages you in the creative process by which you start the compositional process with a concept and complete it through performance. You study a range of conceptual frameworks for music composition and develop these in your own work. The emphasis is on developing compositional individuality and sophistication, while securing a professional level of presentational and notational competence. Alongside individual and group tutorials, a series of supporting workshops and seminars will engage you in the study of a range of pieces of contemporary music that might usefully provide models for your work, and in the discussion of each other’s works in progress. Engagement with other disciplines and artists will be encouraged throughout the module.
Music and Culture
This module aims to introduce you to the fields of cultural and critical studies of music and ethnomusicology in their broadest definitions: the history, methods and subjects of a culture-centred approach to music, particularly music of the non-Western world, folk and popular musics. The module will allow you to understand the cultural, critical and ethnomusicological methods and philosophies to music from around the world.
This module aims to provide in-depth practical training in the process of musical analysis, particularly those approaches that fall outside of a tonal theory-based structural or theoretical understanding. The module allows you to explore specific methods, developments and contexts of musical analysis, such as performance analysis; approaches from music perception and cognition; Schenkerian analysis, and post-tonal analysis.
Music Education in Schools and the Community
This module aims to introduce you to the basic principles of teaching music in groups. You study the work of seminal educators, from Plato and Aristotle to Dalcroze, Orff, Kodaly and Suzuki as well as theories of effective teaching and learning. You explore different pedagogical methodologies through a combination of theoretical sessions on topics such as group dynamics, developmental theories, the purpose of music in the curriculum; practical sessions in class and practical workshops in schools and community settings. You will become familiar with recent research into approaches to group teaching and learning, in terms of both content and strategy, and will consider your own work in relation to formal methodologies. Musical materials that learners could use in group settings will be developed through your involvement in collaborative projects.
Music, Health and Wellbeing
The module aims to provide you with an introduction to music’s link with health and wellbeing through an examination of existing research literature and through practical experience. It develops your knowledge, awareness and understanding of the implications of demographic change issues concerned with active music-making with older people. Through practical experience you will achieve an appreciation of the potential of music, and in particular singing, as a tool in palliative care and in the care of older people. You will also develop an understanding of the role of community musicians in a wide variety of settings. Practical sessions will mean developing existing musical skills applicable in new contexts, together with observation and some practice of music in a variety of care and community settings including groups of older people in day care centres.
Creative Sound Design
This module aims to provide a substantial practical overview of studio-based approaches to sound design and electronic composition. A broad and diverse approach will be taken, emphasising, for example, the influences of dance music and film sound, academia, the avant-garde and the commercial music industry on the shaping of the contemporary studio composer, and you will be encouraged to reflect on these influences within a creative portfolio of works.
Music in the Media 1
The aim of this module is to give you an introduction to the skills, approaches and insights needed to produce music for the media. You will develop the ability to compose music that enhances moving images and will learn to engage those stylistic conventions and techniques most commonly encountered in bespoke media music. You will develop those sequencing and arranging skills needed in the production of smaller-budget media music and will also be presented with opportunities to develop skills in sound design that may be used alongside or as an alternative to more traditional compositional skills.
Arts and Politics (Interdisciplinary)
Political dimensions of art, art’s ability to act as a catalyst for political change, and the use and abuse of arts by political movements have always been an urgent talking point of artistic and academic debates. This module examines the incorporation of political agendas into theatre, music, and dance. You will engage with a variety of key artistic practices and political concepts that have underpinned interactions between arts and politics. This module spans from the Middle Ages, throughout early modern period and Romanticism to the present and introduces key political concepts that underlie influential artistic practices. Specific works and artistic events relating to power, nation, and censorship will be explored. Topics may include (but are not limited to): the use of arts by courts, Church, and political regimes, key artists shaping and responding to national romanticism, national anthems, arts as a vehicle of revolution, and arts that offended moral standards.
Arts and the Individual (Interdisciplinary)
The module will introduce the broader notion of the ‘individual’ in the arts, and how this notion is manifest in a number of artistic movements beginning with nineteenth-century Romanticism. You will study a number of specific topics relating to the individual in the arts, which might include the idea of the suffering individual, key artists of the avant-garde, and the performer.
Performance: Professional Preparation
In the context of your own instrumental skills, you will focus on the development of an independent and creative approach to musical interpretation, critically evaluating your own interpretations as well as those of others. You will reflect on the processes involved in musical performance, situating your own experience with instrumental teaching and learning in the context of traditional and contemporary professional practice. There is an expectation that you will also engage with the particular challenges posed by the performance of contemporary music.
Performance: Final Recital
Performing skills are cultivated through experience as you prepare and present your work in a manner appropriate for professional public concerts. You will be encouraged to evaluate your approach to musical interpretation, becoming more aware of the specific skills required for the development of individual expertise. You will also develop your understanding of professionalism in public performance through observing and participating in concerts and masterclasses from visiting professional artists.
Advanced Techniques for Composition
This module aims to develop your practical and technical skills in contemporary composition with an emphasis on the application of these in professional settings. The module offers a focus on contemporary chamber music, multimedia composition, experimental music or jazz, and you will explore the techniques offered by the course within your area of interest through group and individual tutorials. This module builds upon the work done in Year 2 by engaging students with compositional projects for small forces. The emphasis is on expanding your knowledge of compositional technique which will equip you to approach creative projects with confidence and professionalism. In addition, the module focuses on developing extended writing for instruments, advanced orchestration skills and a professional level of notational competence. As well as discussing each other’s works in progress, you will study a range of pieces of contemporary music that might usefully provide models for your work.
Creative Project in Composition
Building upon the work done in Year 2, and in the Year 3 module, ‘Advanced Techniques of Composition’, in this module you are engaged in a creative process of composition that begins conceptually and ends in performance. You will study a range of conceptual frameworks for music composition and develop these in your own work. The emphasis is on developing compositional individuality and sophistication, while securing a professional level of presentational and notational competence. You will express your musical ideas clearly and in the context of contemporary musical repertoire both in your compositional and written work. You will produce works that explore a range of instrumental and/or vocal combinations or electronic means. You will prepare two works for visiting performers and ensembles. Each work will be supported by a workshop and presented in a final concert. Engagement with other disciplines and artists is encouraged throughout the module.
Advanced Music Research
The module provides you, with the opportunity to develop your research skills to a very high level, in preparation for applying them to a musicological topic of your choice in the ‘Independent Project’ module. The module provides training in specialist and contemporary methods of musicological research, planning and presentation.
The module provides you with the opportunity to apply your research skills at the highest level to a musicological topic of your choosing. This builds on the training provided in the ‘Advanced Music Research’ module, and you will develop the project started in that module for your final dissertation. You also gain valuable transferable skills such as research skills, problem solving, clear expression, organising information, and coherent presentation of a large-scale written work. You are encouraged to take the lead in your own planning, research and writing, as well as gaining from regular meetings with your supervisor.
Building on the Year 2 module, ‘Analysis’, this module deepens your understanding of analysis, focusing on a range of musical styles, and introduces you to historical and contemporary methodologies for analysis (such as pitch-class set theory analysis, Schenkerian analysis, semiotic analysis and the analysis of popular music) to develop an awareness of the utility of specific methods and of their philosophical, aesthetic, historical and scientific underpinnings. This module introduces advanced techniques in musical analysis through lectures and seminars. You will read and discuss key texts from the analytical literature and the application of the methods discussed to a range of music, developing a knowledge of analytical methodologies and approaches that can be applied to your future projects.
Building on ‘Advanced Analysis’, in this module you will develop strategies to analyse your own choice of music. You will connect analysis with your activities in other musical disciplines, such as performance and composition. A significant aim of this module is the practical and critical application of theoretical information in an extended project. The module will allow you to present a detailed study of your chosen music and analytical methodology. You are encouraged to take the lead in your own planning, research and writing, as well as gaining from regular meetings with your supervisor.
One-to-one Instrumental and Vocal Teaching
The aims of the module are to develop your ability to analyse and reflect on your instrumental or vocal expertise in order to transfer knowledge and skills in a flexible and communicative way, mainly in one-to-one or small group teaching situations. You will study and evaluate models of teaching in specialist fields, and investigate current research into traditional and contemporary modes of instrumental teaching. You will observe and analyse the practices of professional teachers at work. Reflection on your own experience will be supported and encouraged, while communication skills will be developed through participation in practical workshops, as you learn to teach your own specialist instrument/voice. You will explore the nature of both performance and verbal behaviours employed by experts in instrumental teaching and learning.
Music in Vulnerable Populations for Therapy and Education
The module aims to develop your knowledge of the use of music for the enhancement of health, wellbeing and music education in vulnerable populations such as older people with dementia and Parkinson’s disease as well as children and young people with learning disabilities or behavioural problems. The module also aims to expand your understanding and awareness of central issues in relation to planning and leading music-making activities with older learners in palliative care and in the community through theory and in practice. You will have opportunities to sample community music projects as they would be delivered at a professional level, and to work increasingly independently, within groups and individually, in practical community projects and academically. Framed within the theoretical perspective of music in the development of wellbeing, the module will include experiential learning in community settings. With tutorial guidance, you will be expected to lead music sessions with groups of vulnerable people.
Music and Social Science Research
The module will enable you to undertake academic research in the area of music using the tools of the social sciences, such as music psychology, music and health, or music education. The module aims to enable you to develop a detailed, critical understanding of your chosen area of study, and to research, analyse and present information, techniques, views and opinions in an academic fashion. Seminars and workshops are provided, dealing with the requisite research skills, analytical skills and presentation skills that will be necessary to enable you to develop and complete a literature review on your selected topic. You will have regular individual tutorials with a specialist member of staff.
Music and Social Science Project
Building on the ‘Music and Social Science Research’ module, this module enables you to undertake a substantive project, which may involve the collection and analysis of data, based on research questions developed through a thorough examination of the appropriate literature; or a substantive survey of one area of music psychology, music and health or music education. You will produce a significant piece of work in the form of an experiment report or dissertation. You will be supported through individual tutorials by a specialist member of staff.
Sound Art A
This module includes a strong emphasis on emergent forms of sound design, and alternative approaches to composition will be explored. You will be introduced to a range of skills, such as formulating project proposals and creating documentation, whilst new developments in Sound Art are discussed through a variety of lectures and practical demonstrations. You will also be encouraged to collaborate with visual media artists, such as photographers or web designers, in the creation of a mixed-media work.
Sound Art B
This module is designed to build upon knowledge developed in Sound Art A. You will be introduced to technical and artistic skills necessary to produce a large-scale non-linear installation work. Installation art and interactivity will be discussed through a variety of lectures and practical demonstrations. You will also be encouraged to collaborate with visual media artists, such as photographers, web designers or film-makers, in the creation of a mixed-media work.
This module aims to develop your ability to conceive and realise original compositions through creative use of the music production studio. You pursue individual areas of interest in technology-based music composition, devising creative ideas and the work of contemporary composers and producers in various genres is considered, with a particular emphasis on how methods of production (including studio process, collaboration, and relevant technologies) influence the creative output.
Film Music A
The module aims to give you an understanding of the process of writing music for film and you will be introduced to the development of the language of film music, film scoring techniques and to broader cultural and critical issues. The module covers a variety of composers working in the industry today with a focus upon the detail of influential works, and practical exercises extend further the creative and technical skills developed during level two of the course within modules such as Music in the Media.
Film Music B
Continuing from ‘Film Music A’, this module aims to develop your understanding of the language of film music, film-scoring techniques and the broader cultural and critical issues. You will develop composition, production, and software techniques and apply these skills to the creation of music for film. Practical exercises extend further the creative and technical skills developed during Film Music A and you will also be required to produce a show-reel of your work and supporting documentation, as if presenting to an agent or client.
Community Arts project (Interdisciplinary)
This module focuses on the application of skills, knowledge and understanding of interdisciplinary arts related to a community arts context. The module is centred on developing a performance for a community audience and related challenges, concerns, issues and practicalities of project development, management and completion. This module will prepare you for a community-focused interdisciplinary project. Relevant theory, research and documentation will be analysed and issues debated. You will work collaboratively and engage in planning, managing and delivering a project for a group in a community-based context. You will develop the idea and produce the performance project with a community-based audience in mind. As an interdisciplinary group, you will agree the outcomes of the project, be clear about role and responsibilities, undertake appropriate risk assessments with support from you University-based tutor and draw on your understanding of ethical considerations, child protection, consent and safe practice. You will also undertake relevant reading and research to support the project.
Multimedia Performance (Interdisciplinary)
This module is designed to explore the rapidly emerging and diversifying field of multimedia performance and interactive performance installation. Contemporary performance practice seeks to embrace new performative literacies and makes efforts to engage with current technologies in order to redefine the performance setting and the means by which performance is delivered. This module aims to guide you through this exciting and developing field of practice and expose you to the new theoretical concepts that underpin final performance/installation works. Multimedia performance embraces a new technology as means of extending both the self and place. Artists use the projected image to create alternative scenographies, social media systems to provide interactive environments with which to engage the audience, motion tracking devices to remediate movement and exist as virtual bodies. All of these techniques reflect developments in the use of technologies within our social environments and it is important that creatives attempt to analyse their use within performance practice. The module will introduce you to a range of current practitioners operating at the vanguard of multimedia performance; at the time of writing groups such as Blast Theory, Palindrome and Chunky Move are creating dramatic and immersive works, exploring therapy using multimedia techniques and presenting astonishing choreography using cutting edge technologies. You will have the opportunity to develop your own practice by experimenting with software designed specifically for the multimedia performance environment such as Mark Coniglio’s Isadora, together with Apple’s object orientated tool, Quartz Composer. You will explore innovative performance control systems that allow for real time scenic manipulation as well as being able to build immersive installation spaces using proximity and motion tracking technologies. Theorists such as Philip Auslander, Johannes Behringer, Susan Broadhurst and Steve Dixon will inform those concepts which underpin your work.