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Module WXM-2022:
Popular Music Analysis

Module Facts

Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr John Cunningham

Overall aims and purpose

Popular music can be dismissed as being too simple for analysis; however, the last four decades or so have witnessed a growing body of scholarly literature offering a range of theories and methodologies. This module aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to analysing various kinds of popular music. Modes of analysis will include lyrics, music, visual representations and cultural context.

Course content

The first part of the module will offer a contextual history of the development of popular music analysis as a sub-discipline of musicology, seeking to explain why popular music should be studied seriously and how thoughts about this have developed especially since the 1980s. The second part of the module will examine different modes of analysis, with reference to case studies, allowing students to become familiar with approaches such as Schenkerian techniques, soundbox, semiotics, lyrical analysis, and deconstruction of visual accompaniments (e.g. music videos). It will also give students a firm understanding of the leading authors in the field and how their approaches differ and interact. The module will require some score reading and an understanding of basic music theory (it is advised that students will have taken WXM 1004, Harmony and Counterpoint, in the first year).

Assessment Criteria

good

Good (B– to B+): Work which displays a good grasp of the subject, with evidence of strong ability at conceptual and critical thinking, expressed engagingly.

threshold

Threshold (D– to D+): Work which displays basic knowledge of the subject, with some limited ability in conceptual and critical thinking, expressed intelligibly.

C- to C+

Fair (C– to C+): Work which displays fair knowledge of the subject, with satisfactory ability at conceptual and critical thinking, expressed understandably.

excellent

Excellent (A– to A*): Work which displays a thorough grasp of the subject, with evidence of depth and originality in conceptual and critical thinking, expressed convincingly.

Learning outcomes

  1. On completion of this module, the student should be able to demonstrate and apply a detailed knowledge and understanding of specific methodologies / techniques of popular music analysis

  2. On completion of this module, the student should be able to demonstrate and apply a detailed knowledge and understanding of popular music in culture (current or historical)

  3. On completion of this module, the student should be able to apply skills of musical analysis, source-based research, and critical thinking in relation to the music studied

  4. On completion of this module, the student should be able to communicate ideas about the music studied effectively

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Presentation

Oral presentation, 10 minutes in length (25%), offering a brief but detailed analysis of a song / section of a song from the popular repertoire, rooted in at least one of the theories / methodologies discussed on the module: testing Learning Outcomes 2 and 4. Presentations must be submitted online not later than noon on Thursday of Week 12 (17 December 2020).

To be submitted via Blackboard not later than noon on the submission date.

25
ESSAY Essay

3000-word essay, with bibliography, references and music examples to be submitted on Monday of week 13. A list of topics will be provided by the tutor at the start of the module, but will allow students to demonstrate the ability to analyse a piece of popular music in terms of socio-cultural context combined with engaging with the work as a piece of music using at least one of the analytical methods / techniques taught on the module.

To be submitted via Blackboard not later than noon on the submission date.

75

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Lecture

One two-hour lecture each week for eleven weeks.

Teaching will take place via a University approved platform such as Teams, and will be supported by online resources etc. Tasks / reading will normally be set as preparation: where teamwork is required it must be done online via a platform such as Teams. Each student will also be allocated a seminar group (one hour, each week), which will be delivered via a University approved platform such as Teams: these sessions are intended to build on the material / concepts outlined in the lectures and allows students to discuss through practical exercises.

22
Seminar

One one-hour seminar each week for eleven weeks.

Teaching will take place via a University approved platform such as Teams, and will be supported by online resources etc. Tasks / reading will normally be set as preparation: where teamwork is required it must be done online via a platform such as Teams. Each student will also be allocated a seminar group (one hour, each week), which will be delivered via a University approved platform such as Teams: these sessions are intended to build on the material / concepts outlined in the lectures and allows students to discuss through practical exercises.

11
One-to-one supervision

Individual tutorial to discuss the presentation assessment.

Each student is encouraged to book up to two tutorials (via Teams or other online platform) to discuss the assessments and how to approach them. Depending on student numbers, slots will be allocated typically in Weeks 8–12. Tutorials may be individual or in groups of up to three. Ahead of the tutorials you are expected to prepare a plan of how you are intending to approach the work.

1
One-to-one supervision

Individual tutorial to discuss the essay assessment.

Each student is encouraged to book up to two tutorials (via Teams or other online platform) to discuss the assessments and how to approach them. Depending on student numbers, slots will be allocated typically in Weeks 8–12. Tutorials may be individual or in groups of up to three. Ahead of the tutorials you are expected to prepare a plan of how you are intending to approach the work.

1
Private study

Including assignment preparation and preparation for classes (students will be expected to read / listen to texts ahead of lectures and / or seminars).

166

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Resources

Resource implications for students

none

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/wxm-2022.html

Reading list

To be provided

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: