Music as Cultural History
Approaches to Musicology 2024-25
School of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 2
This module uses repertoire primarily of the baroque to early romantic eras to develop students’ understanding of music history, how it’s constructed and how it (and musical works) can be understood in today’s culture.
Over the semester you will attend lectures and seminars in which you will learn more about the music and cultures of the periods. You will also have workshops in which you will develop essential skills in research and communication.
On this module you’ll learn about important works and composers active from the late 16th century through to the middle of the nineteenth. You will also learn key skills in doing research and in communicating your ideas – both verbally (through debates) and in writing.
On this module, you will develop your musical knowledge of a range of important works and composers in the Western tradition as well as an understanding of the cultural contexts in which they arose. You will also develop your skills in research (including working with primary sources) and communicating your ideas effectively to audiences.
The assessments on the module are designed to develop your skills and expertise in several areas, while building your knowledge of music history. In the seminars you will take part in two debates on contemporary topics related to the music studied. You will also take two short online repertoire tests. And at the end of the semester you will submit a short essay.
Indicative lecture topics include: - Palestrina and the golden age of polyphony - The madrigal - The invention of opera - The concerto - Women, music and the Baroque - Music and the Enlightenment - Opera as cultural history - Oratorio - String quartet and symphony - Schubert and the Lied - Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn - Virtuosity: Paganini, Liszt and Chopin - Verdi, opera and cultural nationalism - The Mass - Music, spectacle and power
Third Class: D- to D+ (40%-49%)
The crucial achievement is demonstration of a basic grasp of what the topic is about, and the sort of material involved. However, the mark will be limited to this level by such things as: mere repetition of information without demonstration of real understanding; confusion of argument which indicates a failure to properly understand the material; inability to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant; inability to grasp ideas; inclusion of factual errors; seriously defective bibliographical or footnoting skills; poor expression; oral reticence; scrappy presentation.
Lower Second Class: C- to C+ (50%-59%)
The main quality which warrants marks in this category is the amassing of a reasonable body of relevant material drawn from a fairly wide range of reading or other forms of information retrieval, sorted into a coherent order and expressed intelligibly. Qualities which limit the mark to this level are: incoherent arguments, or argument which is defective in some way; limited or defective bibliography or footnotes; limited understanding of ideas or argument; limited evidence of a broad knowledge and understanding of the topic; limited engagement with negotiating and renegotiating ideas in oral discussion; limited evidence of serious thought, as opposed to straightforward diligence.
Upper Second Class: B- to B+ (60%-69%)
The distinguishing quality is the ability to construct focused argument which is properly evidenced. The work will therefore probably demonstrate the ability to understand the discussion of a work of art and to apply that knowledge to different works; the conveyance of a general knowledge and understanding of the topic as a whole, and of a more detailed knowledge and understanding of specific areas; competent bibliographical and footnoting skills; effective communication of ideas and argument; thoughtful contribution to oral discussion; ability to see problems and contradictions within source reading; skills in observation and analysis. Upper Second Class work may contain many of the same qualities which apply in First Class work, but they will be demonstrated at a less independent level, or the work may be outstanding in one First-class characteristic but significantly deficient in another.
First Class: A- and A (70%-83%)
The distinguishing quality is evidence of real intellectual and independent thought in a sustained discussion. Work at this level will probably demonstrate initiative in carrying out research beyond the obvious sources; ability to evaluate critically sources used; sustained and coherent discussion; articulate expression in speaking and writing; ability to bring together material from disparate sources; observational and analytical skills of a high order; the ability to employ knowledge to illuminate musical texts; indications of wide knowledge beyond the narrow confines of the topic addressed; the ability to lead oral discussion; ability to identify and rigorously confront problems in the topic, contradictions in texts, or lacunae in available evidence.
First Class: A+ to A** (84%-100%)
Work at this level is highly original and of a standard that attains or closely approaches professional standards. The work will demonstrate in a consistent manner all of the features listed in the A-/A (70%-83%) category, and will be of such a quality that it either stands up to publication or broadcast in its submitted state or has the potential for publication or broadcast with presentational amendments.
- Communicate ideas effectively.
- Demonstrate a knowledge of specific works, styles, genres and musical features in repertoire composed between 1550 and 1850.
- Demonstrate a knowledge of the historical and cultural circumstances in which music was composed and performed between 1550 and 1850.
- Demonstrate the ability to research topics in music history independently.
Debate 1. Students must participate in a debate on a set topic. This will be delivered during one of the seminar classes (typically week 7).
Debate 2. Students must participate in a debate on a set topic. This will be delivered during one of the seminar classes (typically in week 12). An individual mark will be given.
Online repertoire test 1. You will be given a series of questions (usually 10 multiple-choice, equally weighted) relating to various aspects of the topics covered in weeks 1–5 of the module. They are designed to test your understanding of the key concepts taught to that point in the module;. The test is to be completed online, on Blackboard. There is no time limit, but it is designed to not take more than 30 mins. It is due by 4pm on Thursday of week 6.
Online repertoire test 2 You will be given a series of questions (usually 10 multiple-choice, equally weighted) relating to various aspects of the topics covered in weeks 7–12 of the module. They are designed to test your understanding of the key concepts taught to that point in the module;. The test is to be completed online, on Blackboard. There is no time limit, but it is designed to not take more than 30 mins. It is due in the assessment period of semester 2.
Main assignment An essay of 2000 words on a topic related to the music studied. Topics are provided at the start of the semester. The essay is due on Monday of Week 13, the start of the assessment period in semester 2.