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Module WXM-0002:
Language of Music

Module Facts

Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Mr Stephen Rees

Overall aims and purpose

This module is designed for Foundation Year students who do not yet read staff notation or lack confidence in so doing. It comprises an intensive programme of exercises, supported by seminars and participation in group music-making, which will bring students up to an appropriate level of skill for them to be able to read music confidently in classes, rehearsals and in private practice. This module opens to the door to advanced musical study to all students, regardless of their experience before arriving in Bangor.

Course content

Principles of musical language: pitch, rhythm, metre. Principles of notation: pitch, rhythm, metre. Clefs: treble, bass (and rules for how to read the others). Keys and chromaticism. Tempo, dynamics and expression Basic principles of harmony (triads, inversions, voice-leading). Roman letter chord analysis. Basic principles of counterpoint (canon, imitation)

Assessment Criteria


The student can read music satisfactorily with care, but not in tempo at sight. The student can demonstrate that they have a basic grasp of music as an academic discipline


The student can read music accurately, and can do so in tempo at sight with only occasional errors. The student can demonstrate a good understanding of music as an academic discipline


The student can read music accurately in tempo and at sight. The student can demonstrate an ability to apply original insight into music as a cultural phenomenon.

Learning outcomes

  1. On completion of this module, students will be able to read and write monodic music fluently using treble and bass clefs.

  2. On completion of this module, students will be able to interpret harmonic formations and music written on other clefs

  3. On completion of this module, students will be able to perform confidently as a member of a large ensemble (or other ensemble as agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator).

  4. On completion of this module, students will be able to understand the principles behind the academic study and practice of music.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Weekly exercises

Students are supplied with 4 pages of exercises on a weekly basis. These are marked weekly. The grade awarded for this component is a conflation of these weekly marks. The exercises will address principles of musical language and musical notation, including keys, expression marks, basic harmony and counterpoint, and the use of Roman Letter chord analysis.

LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Rehearsal logbook

Students are required to keep a weekly log of their participation in one of the University’s large ensembles (orchestra, choir, opera group, etc.), or other ensemble as agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator. The log should be completed weekly on the VLE, and should record and reflect on the work done that week, both by the student individually, and by the ensemble as a team.

ESSAY Short Essay

An essay on a topic set by the module tutor, addressing a topic in musical culture. The essay topics will include options on musico-historical and performance-related topics, with particular relevance to the work undertaken in the ensemble participation.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Practical classes and workshops

Participation in weekly rehearsals (2 hours each) of one of the University's large ensembles (orchestra, choir, opera group, etc.). or other ensemble as agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator. Participation in the chosen ensemble requires regular attendance and reflection on the weekly contribution and progress of the individual, and the development of the ensemble as a whole.

Private study

Work on exercises set. Additional tutorial support is available on an ad-hoc basis


11 2-hour weekly workshops


Weekly 1-hour seminars


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
  • Re-creative skills – interpretation, innovation, versatility, and other skills relating to performance
  • Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
  • 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


Resource implications for students

There are no resource implications for students

Talis Reading list

Courses including this module