Current Musicology 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
A fairly late addition to the concert of academic disciplines, musicology is defined as ‘the study of music’ broadly understood. Simple though this specification sounds, music as an object of study has elicited a variety of different methodological approaches, both intrinsic to the musicology (analysis) and imported from other disciplines (philology, literary criticism, aesthetics, sociology, anthropology, and acoustics etc.). The course intends to make students familiar with a range of methodologies and methodological debates which have a vital impact on current research undertaken in the field (e.g. historiography, analysis, ‘new musicology’, gender, structuralism and post-structuralism, authenticity).
Selected readings of scholarly writing serve a dual purpose: Firstly, they are used to establish the key concepts and approaches characteristic of the individual approaches and thus pave the way for an understanding even of jargon-ridden texts. Secondly, they form the basis of a critical assessment, which recognises the historical conditioning of methodologies and seeks to evaluate their benefits and limitations. This look behind the scenes of musicological discourse will prepare students for a reflective use of methodologies in their own research. The practice of critical discourse will be developed by discussion sessions on seminal and controversial methodological approaches, in which students take the lead.
Additionally, students will be exposed to the latest trends in musicology and related areas through the School / Dept research seminars, which provide a forum for cutting-edge research by scholars from Bangor and elsewhere.
50%-59% (Pass) The crucial achievement is demonstration of a sound grasp of the topic and relevant secondary literature, appropriate use of sources, which are critically examined, interpreted and contextualised, methodological tools and technical terminology. However, the mark will be limited to this level by such things as: unoriginal application of a pre-defined methodology, which results in a failure to address its limitations with regard to the subject matter concerned; heavy reliance on and unquestioned use of secondary literature; inability to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant; poor expression; incompetent bibliographical and footnoting skills.
60%-69% (Merit) The distinguishing quality is the generation of some original insights, resulting from research into a little-explored area and/or the competent and creative use of methodologies, which are further developed or applied to a new field of study. The work will therefore demonstrate the ability to develop an original and sophisticated argument without intrinsic contradictions and inconsistencies; secure intellectual grasp of material beyond the subject matter narrowly defined; ability to diagnose and remedy problems and contradictions within previous scholarship; effective communication of ideas and argument. Work of this category may contain many of the same qualities which qualify for distinction (70% and over), but they will be demonstrated at a less independent level, or the work may be outstanding in one distinction characteristic, but significantly deficient in another.
70%-83% (Distinction) The distinguishing quality is the generation of novel and original insights, which make a substantial contribution to scholarship and substantially advance the current understanding of the topic. Work of this category will typically result from: the aggregation of a sizeable body of previously unresearched information; the development of tailor-made methodology, which sheds new light on the subject; true intellectual acumen, scholarly rigour, analytical skills of high order; the solution of challenging problems or identification of hidden flaws in established academic knowledge and discourse. Depending on the nature of the research project, a notable degree of innovation is recognisable either in all of these aspects or in selection, then to a higher extent.
84%-100% (High Distinction) Work at this level is of a standard that attains or closely approaches professional standards and has the potential to re-define the area or methodological debate. The work will demonstrate in a consistent manner all of the features listed in the 70%-84% category, and will be of such a quality that it either stands up to publication in a scholarly journal in its submitted state or with presentational amendments.
- Collate, assimilate, and synopsize relevant musicological literature (bibliographical exercise).
- Critically evaluate and synthesize a range of current research methodologies in music.
- Demonstrate advanced skills in communication (written essay and oral presentation).
- Review, synthesize and critique a range of concepts and terminology use in current musicological scholarship, research, and discourse.
Bibliography Exercise An Exercise in research and bibliography – preparation of an extended source and literature list on a selected topic (approximately 20–25 items); due by 4pm on Thursday of week 5. This submission may be linked to the presentation topic. Topics should be decided by week 3.
Individual Presentation One presentation of 15 minutes’ duration, ideally to be presented live to the class. To be presented in class in week 10. The presentation, its overall scope, and detail should be discussed and confirmed with module coordinator in advance (in the tutorial sessions).
Final essay on a musicological topic. One essay covering a discussion of a current musicological subject or sub-discipline (3,500 words); due on the first day of the semester 1 assessment period.