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Module

MUS1102 : Applications and Structures of Music Theory

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s):
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

This module is designed for students who are familiar with Western European Music Theory up to a recognized professional standard equivalent to the ABRSM Grade 5 Theory qualification. The module will enable them to understand music theory in application and chose an area of application (professional score, analytic presentation, or teaching pack) in which to specialise their engagement with the musical materials and be able to critically think and communicate the materials of Common Practice musics to a third party. They will also learn the principles of 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.

Students will also undertake an e-learning journey, using the software Musition in support of the weekly lectures to enable the students to practice and embed their skills outside of the immediate learning environment, and to monitor their own learning gain through weekly and incremental formative assessments.

Outline Of Syllabus

Western European Music Theory comes from a privileged background, it was formulated and proposed by those that had access to a formal education, monies to be able to publish their treatises, and was most likely expounded by white, upper-class, males. As such, it should be a considered a theory rather than the theory of music. That said, it is a theory which has held prominence across art musics since the 16th Century and its presence can often be found in the multitude of globally rich musics in the 20th and 21st Century; this makes it a topic worthy of critical study.

In Semester 1 students are shown how to produce music notation both by hand and digital notation software to a publishable standard. The setting of a typical Bach Chorale is the focus of the musical material and this is explored through the influence of Thomas Campion on four-voice harmony; Common Practice techniques such as cadences in major and minor key signatures, second inversion chords, the seventh degree note and chord, circle of fifths and modulations; the Lutheran tradition of setting lyrics to chorales, and finally the practical application of the skills outside of this trajectory to other forms of musical composition.

In Semester 2 student engage with an 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.

The module leader is an active researcher in Authentic Music Theory meaning that the learning and teaching in this module will be from the following perspective: students will be encouraged and assisted to engage with critical, creative, and self-reflective thought and practical and real-world tasks will drive the modes of assessment. For more information on this position see: Fleet, P (2022), ‘Parental Advisory: Making Explicit the Value and Authenticity of a Music Degree’, in: Dromey, C. (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Applied Musicology, New York: Routledge.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion222:0044:00In between the sessions - reflect on learning outcomes and skills in relation to the assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:3033:00Lectures with workshops embedded into the sessions.
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities222:0044:00Handwritten & digital notation skills by copying and creating extracts from parts & scores.
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities161:0016:00Online learning using the MUS1002 customised package within Musition.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study163:0063:00Used by student to analyse and evaluated learning & create from skills being explored.
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Semester 1 is designed to put theoretical musical skills into application by using authentic education models to be able to demonstrate theory into practice with real world relevance. Semester 2 begins with the fundamentals of Species Counterpoint with exercises drawn 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. 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. The curriculum is devised to enable the student at the close of the module to be able to communicate, construct, and create musical materials with their peers in a professional and/or undergraduate academic environment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study1A50This will be a take away paper that will assess the intended knowledge outcomes 1-5, and the intended skill outcomes 1-5.
Case study2A50This will be a take away paper that will assess the intended knowledge outcomes 6-8, and the intended skill outcomes 1, 6-9.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MThese will be weekly assessments undertaken on the software package Musition.
Computer assessment2MThese will be weekly assessments undertaken on the software package Musition.
Written exercise1MIntended Skill Outcome 1-6 will be assessed in weekly formative tasks.
Written exercise2MIntended Skill Outcome 1, 6 – 9 will be assessed in weekly formative tasks.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The students are being tested on their abilities to write music (by hand and by software), talk about music using the correct terminology, listen and comprehend musical materials, and then close the circle by writing and writing-about the materials to which they have just listened. The rationale is to enable the student to engage with music theory and literacy to a standard that then enables them to work with other literate musicians.

Further, the assessment is designed to contextualise and enable the student to consider the materials outside of the University learning environment and in real world situations. Whilst these templates for presentation are different, the briefs will be written to ensure consistency of required musical materials and their discussion across the templates to ensure parity of assessment across the cohort.

Reading Lists

Timetable