Global Opportunities

MUS1044 : Composing and Analysing Music (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


This module builds upon the learning knowledge and skills of MUS1004 and MUS1001 to prepare students for analytical and compositional practice at Level 5 (Pre-Final Year) and Level 6 (Final Year) modules across the music degree curriculum (for example MUS2041, MUS2044 and MUS2018). It recognises the Janus-faced activities of analysis and composition and places them as complementary activities through encounters with Baroque, Classical and Romantic musics. Students learn precepts of composition and musical construction through historically tried-and-tested analytical and compositional approaches, beginning with principles of ‘strict’ counterpoint and moving to freer stylistic practices, emulating the styles of composers in the common practice period. Through this, students should acquire an understanding of essential musical principles that affords insight into a large repertory of music and equips them with skills transferable to many forms of free compositional practice.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module begins with a five-week exploration of Species Counterpoint: moving from Cantus Firmus (Bass Line) and First Species (one note against the bass line note) to Second Species (two notes against the bass line note), Third Species (four notes against the bass line note), Fourth Species (a rhythmically offset melodic line against the bass line), to Mixed Species. This journey moves from the basic principles of consonance and dissonance to an analytical practice that is the underpinning of tonal music composition. Subsequent case studies explore works from the common practice era from both compositional and analytical perspectives. The next part of the module concerns methods of rhythmic reduction (analysing) and compositional practice (composing) with regard to a Common Practice Minuet that has been specifically created for this module. The work undertaken by the student in this module prepares them for the assessment (and a potential future mode of employment) which assumes the role of a music editor in receipt of a fragment of music that needs to analysed and then completed in a complementary style.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00Introductory online video/lecture and materials #
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials82:0016:00Asynchronous online lecture material with associated tasks
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion92:0018:00Reflect on learning outcomes & skills in relation to assmnt. Research the options for presentation
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities92:0018:00(PIP) Handwritten & digital notation skills by copying and creating extracts from parts & scores.
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities10:300:30Introductory online video by the student introducing themselves to the learning group
Guided Independent StudySkills practice82:0016:00Reflect upon the learning outcomes and practice those as professional skills in between sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study122:3022:30Analyse and evaluate their learning and then create from the skills being explored.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk81:008:00Synchronous online lecture talk with discussion of the associated tasks
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will embark on a learning journey that begins with the fundamentals of analysis and composition in tonal music through the rule based practice of Species Counterpoint (1 and 3) as these are standards in the understanding and practice of many Western musics. They will both analyse and composer species counterpoint exercises from the foundations of a cantus firmus through to harmonic dislocations to create tension. With this in place, students then explore the structure and space of Common Practice musics through the principles of rhythmic reduction and composition (2 and 4). By unpacking and investigating such materials they will gain a critical appreciation of Common Practice music from the perspectives of an analyst and a composer.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2A100Present musical materials as a rhythmic reduction and as a completed score as if undertaking the role of a music editor.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Design/Creative proj2AWeekly tasks in first half of module concerning Species Counterpoint exercises & in second half concerning compositional practice
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students are set a task where they undertake the real world role of a music editor. They receive/are set a fragment of composition they needs to be completed in two parts. The first is analytical in that the first section of the Minuet is complete but the student/editor needs to provide a rhythmic reduction of the material using the techniques shown in the lecture, the principles of species counterpoint, and harmonic labelling using Roman numerals and figured bass. The second part is compositional where they realise the rhythmic reduction of the second section into a performance ready score that could be presented to a performer without the need for any additional instruction. The second part of this module has input and direction from a composer so that the students understand the role of compositional practice within Common Practice harmonies in order to be able to complete this task to a professional standard.

Reading Lists