Global Opportunities

MUS1097 : Creative Projects

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       to be able to work effectively in response to set creative challenges within the diverse field of contemporary "classical" music/Western Art Music.
•       to encounter new working processes in the realisation of musically creative works, broadening the range of techniques and approaches to contemporary creativity
•       to develop imagination and confidence in creative risk-taking
•       to be able to constructively and critically evaluate one’s own work and that of others
•       to acquire a broader knowledge of the different types of contemporary music practice through focussed listening to selected repertoire as well as exploration of the creative potential of various different music-making approaches.

This module introduces students to a range of contemporary approaches to composing contemporary "classical", or Western Art Music, primarily for voices and instruments, through a series of projects that will include notated contemporary compositional techniques, enriched at times by improvisation and other music-making techniques. Material covered may include modal, post-tonal, graphic scores, atonality, and approaches using improvisation. Each of the four main projects will include directed listening assignments. It is a practical and experience-based course, delivered through online work packages, "live" lectures/workshops, seminar feedback discussions of student work, and directed listening assignments to a wide range of different musics, with examples drawn from medieval to the avant-garde, jazz to electroacoustic, and including the wide range of different kinds of contemporary "classical" composition.

The assignments are set each week which build cumulatively into portfolios of creative work. Students work with the project leaders almost every week, receiving support and feedback on their work and accumulating marks as the module progresses. Students may be required to work independently or in groups depending upon the nature of each specific projects. Students will also be guided through ways in which to engage in self-reflection and critical debate through peer-review. A good working knowledge of music notation is required, but the module includes tutorials and assignments in how to use Sibelius software. As the nature of the material is mostly modal and post-tonal musics, no actual music "theory", in the sense of 18th-century harmony, is required, though knowledge of the terminology of this tradition could also be an advantage.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module introduces students to a some contemporary approaches to composing for instruments and voices through a series of directed projects that will require a reasonable level of familiarity with western music notation. The module may t times be enriched with projects involving improvisation and other forms of contemporary creative practice. It is a practical and experience-based course, delivered through a combination of online work packages, lectures, feedback seminars and workshops. The module does not cover pop songwriting or studio-based production, which are covered in other modules (MUS1059 and MUS1010). Successful completion of the module is usually a pre-requisite for taking the stage 2 composition module "Composing for Spaces and Places" MUS2006.

An important aspect of the module involves listening to a very diverse range of repertoire, critically evaluating it, and reflecting on ways it may inform the student's own creativity.

Students will be required to work independently, both on their own and in small groups, in order to develop their creative projects. Projects will include critical discussion and evaluation in modes appropriate for the different approaches, encouraging peer-review and self-critical reflection.

The module usually consists of four different creative projects, lasting up to five weeks each, with small-scale projects and listening assignments set every week that build material for four separate portfolios of work done. The assessment is structured so that marks and feedback are accumulated week on week, rather than a "sudden death" assessment at the end of the semester.

Students develop their own responses to the set projects, but may also at times be required to work in small groups. The module is designed to challenge some assumptions about musical creativity, and at the same time open up new possibilities for ways of making and listening to contemporary musics, and consolidate skills and confidence in working with music notation outside of the strictures of 18th-century "music theory". Skill in music notation is required, an ability to harmonise Bach Chorales is not. The module does not deal with composing pastiche of 18th and 19th century styles of composition.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture42:008:00Introductory lecture for each project - PIP
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion851:0085:00completion of creative assignments, group projects, and other relevant activities
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities181:0018:00listening assignments to be completed for portfolio - first assignment of year double-weighted
Guided Independent StudySkills practice162:0032:00weekly projects set during module
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching161:3024:00small group seminars going over and giving feedback on previous week's assignments - PIP
Guided Independent StudySkills practice162:0032:00Online asynchronous work packages designed to develop technical skills
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Drop in surgery to discuss student work
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Rationale and relationship to learning outcomes:
• lectures and practicals (online work packages) introduce and critically discuss creative techniques, demonstrating how they can be used, and illustrating this through reference to selected examples from the contemporary repertoire. Guidelines and examples of practical projects to be carried out by students are included. Some lectures will also involve a degree of practical participation that may then break out into the scheduled small-group sessions (see below).
• small group teaching takes the form of supervised seminars and workshops, supporting and critically evaluating the progress of each group of students through looking at previous week's assignments, as well as suggesting possible strategies with which to approach the creative challenges set. These sessions may also include more direct practical exercises such as group improvisation in further enrichment of the creative sills development.
• skills practice has students working through their own responses to the weekly assignments, or the more involved final creative projects associated with each of the four projects throughout the year.
• structured research and reading activities will mostly involve listening assignments, with set pieces of repertoire, evaluating and critically reflecting on them, and finding ways to adapt what has been learned in creative ways within the students's own work. Listening assignments lead to greater awareness of the diversity of creative opportunities in the present day, develop critical skills in evaluating the work of others, and by reflection on the student's own creative work, as well as developing listening skills more generally.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1A40portfolio containing 2 sub-portfolios developed during 1st semester, with written commentaries where relevant
Portfolio2A40portfolio containing 2 sub-portfolios developed during 2nd semester, with written commentaries where relevant
Written exercise1M10portfolio of listening assignments completed and submitted throughout the semester via Canvas
Written exercise2M10portfolio of listening assignments completed and submitted throughout the semester via Canvas
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

• this is an experiential and practice-based course, and the success, or otherwise, of the students’ work is measured by the success with which they produce an engaged and creative response to the challenges set. This is most appropriately assessed by a cumulative portfolio of weekly assignments (which are marked and feedback is given every week)
• the group work also at times evidences the degree to which the students have mastered techniques for working collaboratively in a positive and productive manner
• written reports are included on each portfolio to act as both a measure of each individual student’s engagement with, and understanding of, the context of their creative work, and allows students the opportunity to evidence their critical skills, imaginative insights, and to show that they can appropriately contextualise their own creative work in relation to selected contemporary repertoire.
•       portfolio of listening assignments evidences completion of this aspect of the study testing the student's ability to identify and comment upon selected repertoire studied.

Reading Lists