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MUS2018 : Contemporary Musical Materials

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Mr Phil Begg
  • Teaching Assistant: Mr Fred Hollingsworth
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to introduce the student to further contemporary and cross-cultural understandings of the nature of musical materials. Students will be considering specific case studies throughout the course and challenging preconceived notions about what musical materials are, how they can be analysed/understood, and how they are used in practice . This module is partly theoretical and builds upon the Music Theory modules (MUS1001, MUS1002, MUS1004, MUS1005, MUS1015 and MUS1044) undertaken at Stage 1.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will be introduced to a variety of different musical practices, from other cultures and from different contemporary and popular practices, and will study these examples with reference to their musical material. These are directly related to the research interests of the staff delivering on the module and may reasonably include: study of the art of record production and its associated technologies, electroacoustic music, contemporary sampling practices, turntablism, popular music analysis, musical materials in film and video games. The approaches will be analytical, cultural and historical and will deal with musical forms that are seemingly resistant to conventional analysis.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Lectures with associated tasks and discussions. Present-in-Person, can be online asynchronus.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion162:0032:00Reflect upon the learning outcomes and skills in relation to the assessment.
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities201:0020:00Research/reading tasks set for students to investigate using guided online research methods
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops111:0011:00Discussions or practical demonstrations. Present-in-Person, can be online synchronous if needed.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00Synchronous (PiP or online) single and group tutorials.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study179:0079:00Student to analyse and evaluate their learning and then create from the skills being explored
Guided Independent StudyOnline Discussion162:0032:00Discussion group for the students to engage either synchronously or asynchronously
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The scheduled learning activities are designed to introduce the students to different types of contemporary musical material so that a plural and open definition can be understood, and so that alternative modes of analysis are presented to the traditional score based approach to music. The students will also be expected to place their learning in context so that the module outcomes are fit for purpose not only for their final year specialist study but also for when they graduate. The development of their critical voice is encouraged and supported throughout the module and assessed against the summative tasks: the first being an application for a job as a music researcher and the second being a position piece that the music researcher has been set from a brief.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A401600 word research-driven essay in response to an open-ended set question/assignment brief
Essay2A602400 word think piece or an equivalent Creative Project to be negotiated with the module leader
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The first task is weighted to reflect the student's engagement with the content of the module up to that point and their brief is appropriately worth c.1600 words. The second task is worth c.2400 words (or equivalent if the student's response to the brief is practice-based). This is larger, due to the need for the student to reflect upon their learning during the whole module.

Reading Lists