Study Abroad and Exchanges



MUS2007 : Early Music in Practice

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


Early Music in Practice will give students the opportunity to learn about Renaissance consort performance – both vocal and instrumental - through hands-on practical experience. It will also help students develop a range of musicianship skills valuable to their existing musical practice(s), through focusing on key issues such as ensemble performance skills, tuning and temperament, balance within an ensemble, rhythmic interdependence of parts, improvisation and ornamentation.

No prior experience of playing Renaissance instruments is necessary. Students will have the option (subject to places and instruments being available) of studying the viol, recorder, crumhorn, cornett or sackbut. There is also provision for singers to participate via the New Vocal Ensemble (NB entry to this ensemble is by audition). Teaching and learning of these practical skills will take place through regular (normally weekly) rehearsals with the ICMuS Viol Consort, Renaissance Band, or New Vocal Ensemble.

The practical work is supported by seminars on Renaissance music theory, through which students will a) learn to read and perform from facsimiles of original sixteenth-century sources, and b) consider issues related to historical performance practice.

The module will culminate in a public ensemble performance during Semester 2.
Assessment will be based on a combination of elements, reflecting the fact that this will be a new practice for most students. The student’s individual contribution in the ensemble performance will be marked (examiners will take into consideration both the prior experience of the student and tutors’ reports on the contribution of each student to the rehearsal and preparation process); there will be a short study of an extract in original notation, which the student will have a week to prepare and perform on their chosen instrument; and the final element is a reflective essay documenting and reflecting on the student’s own learning though the module.
•       Ensemble performance                   40%
•       Notation reading skills (short study)       30%
•       Reflective essay                         30%

Outline Of Syllabus

The core of your activities comprises:
•       a series of regular rehearsals (e.g. winds, viols, vocal consort).
•       regular daily individual practice, and periodic group rehearsal sessions.
•       seminars though which the principles of reading and performing from mensural notation will be taught, and through which issues of performance practice will be discussed.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture92:0018:00Seminar-based work on notation and performance practice.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical181:0018:00Separate classes (rehearsals) for viols, winds, vocal consort
Guided Independent StudySkills practice184:0084:00Private practice
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study180:0080:00Wider reading and listening, developing knowledge of source materials, etc.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Regular rehearsals provide the core of students’ practical learning. Seminars provide fora in which students learn notational skills and exchange ideas on wider issues of interpretation and performance practice.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A301500-2000 words
Prof skill assessmnt2M40Ensemble performance (before Easter Vacation)
Prof skill assessmnt2M30Quick study of extract in mensural notation (oral / solo performance; normally scheduled after Easter Vacation).
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Ensemble performance and tutors’ report evaluate your basic practical foundation, absorption in practice of key concepts etc, and overall level of progress and application in your core practical study.

Quick study evaluates your individual progress on your chosen instrument / voice, and your understanding of the principles of Renaissance notation.

The essay documents / evaluates your absorption of ideas discussed in rehearsals / seminars; your development as a period instrumentalist / vocalist, contribution to ensemble activities, your reflections on music you have listened to, on the learning process in general.

Reading Lists