Module WXM-2016:
Ancient Mexican Music

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Jochen Eisentraut

Overall aims and purpose

The module forms part of the Genre/Composer modules according to the School of Music's Programme specifications. The aims of this module are, to: 1) offer an introduction to the Crossley-Holland collection of Mexican musical instruments held by the School of Music 2) generate knowledge of the cultural context of the collection’s origins in pre-Hispanic West Mexico 3) develop an understanding of the wider context of ancient Mexican music, and its connections to other Central American cultures 4) promote an understanding of contemporary indigenous music practice in Mexico 5) generate or extend knowledge of ethnomusicological approaches to musical instrument research.

Course content

The School of Music holds a fantastic collection of ancient musical instruments and artefacts from West Mexico. They all pre-date the Spanish invasion (c.1500CE), and some are thought to be as old as 5000 years. They represent a range of instruments, (flutes, ocarinas, percussion), with decorations and construction revealing the rich cultural and religious practices of their people. This module will place this collection in its original cultural context of pre-Hispanic Mexico, as well as discuss its connections to other parts of Central America. It will also trace the contemporary practice of indigenous music as performed in Mexico and Mexican diasporas. The module will equip students with the skills and theoretical knowledge required of musical instrument research, including music archaeology. It will include practical elements working closely with the instruments themselves.

Assessment Criteria


Please also see the Explicit Marking Criteria for Musicology:

A- to A** Work which displays a thorough grasp of the subject, with evidence of further study, deeper thought, originality of approach and excellent written skills.


B- to B+ The work should display a sound grasp of the subject, a good level of conceptual thought, awareness of the main issues, with evidence of intellectual acumen and very good expression.


D- to D+ Work which displays basic, restricted knowledge of the subject with limited ability at conceptual thought, and a limited awareness of issues, but has some evidence of a generally intellectual approach, with fair expression.

C- to C+

C- to C+ Work which displays fair knowledge of the subject, with some ability at conceptual thought (albeit inconsistent or otherwise flawed), and a general awareness of issues, with evidence of a generally intellectual approach, with good expression.

Learning outcomes

  1. developed an understanding of the relationship between cultural artefacts and musical practices

  2. demonstrated knowledge of ethnomusicology and music archaeology

  3. further developed communication skills (written and oral)

  4. demonstrated an understanding of the development of musical practices in Mexico in relation to their cultural, political, and historical contexts

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Presentation topics are given in the module handbook (in week 1). The presentations are scheduled normally during the semester, but depending on numbers may also be held during the examination period.


Essay questions are given in the module handbook (in week 1) and are to be submitted not later than noon on Monday of Week 13.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Preparation for classes and assignments.


Eleven two-hour classes.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
  • Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
  • Technological skills – digital capture, digital expression, digital innovation
  • Intellectual skills shared with other disciplines – research and exploration, reasoning and logic, understanding, critical judgement, assimilation and application
  • Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
  • Enhanced powers of imagination and creativity (4.17)


Resource implications for students


Reading list

Talis list will be created once validation has been granted.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: