Module Catalogue 2022/23

MUS2048 : Free Music Practice: Experimental Pop & Interdisciplinary Performance

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr William Edmondes
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Mariam Rezaei
  • Teaching Assistant: Mr Craig Pollard
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To develop a core understanding of contemporary experimental and interdisciplinary practice in 21st century vernacular music-making including beat-making, improvisation, DIY resourcing.

To develop core skills in improvisation, spontaneous performance & intuitive practice.

To develop critically informed understanding and perspectives concerning improvised and experimental music culture .

To encourage creativity and imaginative engagement with contemporary discourses and contexts, foregrounding a DIY, alternative media, digital and commercial dimension inherent in popular music.

To develop individual abilities in recording, non-notated performance and/or arranging/mixing

To develop critically informed skills working within a contemporary production, publishing and distribution environment constantly reconfigured through advancements in technology and online platforms, but also integrating contemporarily relevant revival of various hardcopy formats.

To develop critically informed skills with regard to the development of aesthetic, artists’ profiles and contexts, learning to deal with the challenges and contradictions particular to a given mode of delivery or cultural framework.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module deploys the non-genre-specific umbrella term ‘Free Music’ loosely to encompass a range of established, current and emergent practices within contemporary pop as a reflection of a real-world/professional environment that draws no practical distinction between genres such as Hip Hop, Trap, Drill, Noise, Jazz, Free Improv and electroacoustic composition.

The module is delivered through a series of distinct projects across the semester focusing on the development of core skills through a combination of lectures that provide a historical and reportorial context for Free Music Practice (supplemented by readings, screenings and class discussion), and practical projects through which students develop their own ideas and identities within Free Music disciplines.

A number of contemporary approaches to making music and sound art will be presented, and students will engage with these through workshops, tutorials, individual and group study. Topics covered will include electronic music, free improvisation, video, creative use of social media and other experimental creative practices. Students will also look and listen to repertoire that is relevant to the module, and a certain number of readings will be set to help students think through the key issues and work them into their artistic practice. The module provides a strong grounding for final year artistic practice as well as providing alternative and innovative frameworks for professional practice.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

An enhanced knowledge of how to develop creative ideas towards practice-based research and professional practice.

An increased knowledge of the creative capabilities of instrumental and expressive forces.

An increase in the range of techniques, formats and narratives available to the student in preparing for either specialist research practice or professional practice.

An enhanced critical understanding of how to contextualize creative practice within a wider cultural framework.

A greater knowledge and critical understanding of historical and contemporary recording, composition, performance and multimedia distribution platforms and how to integrate personal and collective critical practice into them.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Ability to compose, produce and/or perform in fixed media and/or live media while facilitating the potential to work interdisciplinarity, with an understanding of the prevalence of multimedia production prevalent in contemporary pop.

Ability to improvise within both studio and performance context.

Ability to deploy intuitive decision-making in creative production.

Ability to curate individual work and the work of others in interdisciplinary contexts and cross-disciplinary settings.

Ability to collaborate with other artists/musicians in productive and meaningful ways.

Greater confidence and fluency in developing musical and artistic ideas and realising them practically.

An ability to work creatively in a research, professional or commercial context.

Enhanced skills in applying musical knowledge and critical thinking to creative ends.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery102:0020:00tutorials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1100:00100:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce and offer scope for discussion of theoretical ideas and key repertoire relevant to the module topics. Students are directed to readings and listenings connected to the content of lectures, allowing an in-depth understanding of contextual issues. Moreover, lectures introduce students to ways of negotiating the vast, multi-layered repertoire of contemporary (meaning present-day, professional and ‘real-world’) music through critical and historical perspectives that, at the same time, place their own creative expression at the heart of how they respond. Lectures also analyse ways in which the post-digital networking environment offers myriad, imaginative ways in which musicians can get their work heard and seen. Practical work, artist crit groups and tutorials help students realise their ideas in a manner that explores aesthetic parameters and technological avenues with the help of teaching staff, but predominantly independently.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M20the ‘essay’ will reflect the modules materials and narratives but will function in creative symbiosis with the portfolio.
Portfolio1A80‘portfolio’ can comprise a selection of works, a single piece of work or a performance/exhibition/screening/public presentation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The portfolio allows students to focus on disciplines introduced throughout the semester that they consider to best represent their own emergent creative practice. The essay requires students to place their practice in the wider cultural, critical-theoretical and philosophical context and to develop ways of articulating these in a distinctive manner that is less alienated from the creative work they produce – to that end working creatively with critical text will be included in lecture content. Readings and repertoire case-studies (along with optional, evening film-screenings) are provided each week so that students gradually build up knowledge of the context of their creative work, engendering a strong relationship between creative practice and philosophical and critical reflection. Students are assessed on the degree of success and effectiveness with which they were able to formulate a vision for distinctive, new work and realise it. Presenting their work publicly as much as possible throughout the module (via online networking platforms and/or at public live events) will be encouraged in helping students bypass the concern for marking criteria per se and produce work that ‘does what it’s trying to do.’ However, the marking criteria will be foregrounded from the start – research and professional rationale will form a significant part of group discussion from early on in the module. The portfolio is assessed more directly on students’ understanding and development of skills specifically within a Free Music context; the essay is intended to provide contextualisation and to further evidence the extent to which the practical work has responded to the module content.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.