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MUS2044 : Practising Music Analysis

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Christopher Tarrant
  • 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 help the student develop skills in the various practices of music analysis, including those already acquired in MUS1020 (Counterpoint and Voice-Leading). It also aims to help develop the student’s knowledge of musical pieces from the Baroque period through to the early Twentieth Century through aural and analytic encounters (with possible excursions into other repertories), and help them gain a measure of self-sufficiency in critically understanding the form(s), voice(s) and content of musical pieces.

By the end of the module students should be able to make sense of a reasonably complex piece of music through their own musical and intellectual resources. This means understanding how a piece works with (or sometimes against) formal conventions and how it mobilises forces such as harmony, tonality and thematic structure, to make an experience that is musically satisfying. This also includes learning to see the wood for the trees – to distinguish between musical elements of local and more global significance; in other words to understand the different levels on which a piece is working.

Outline Of Syllabus

Becoming good at music analysis (like becoming adept at anything else) takes practice. So the course offers a weekly programme during the academic year in which the student can try their hand at working with a range of pieces on different scales, starting with relatively simple ones, and moving towards complex and longer ones. They will be encouraged to understand the music in its various contexts too – historical, cultural, aesthetic etc. Weekly encounters with a related set of pieces should also help them get familiar with musical repertories.

Practising musical analysis also suggests that analysis is a form of doing or making. We will encourage the student to approach the music imaginatively – perhaps hearing it with a composer’s- or performer’s-ear. And we will ask them to produce something in response to their encounter with the music. This includes not only the written word, but other forms of representing their knowledge of the piece (e.g. a transcription, a graph, a talk, or a demonstration).

There are two points of summative assessment during the module: the first at the close of semester 1 (50%); the second at the close of semester 2 (50%).
At the end each semester you hand in a portfolio of work, comprising of task(s) that are related to the learning skills and outcomes of the learning events throughout each Semester. The brief for each portfolio can be found on Blackboard.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00PIP lecture or online lecture material with associated tasks in case of lockdown
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading165:0065:00Seminar and lecture preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars - PIP or online and synchronous in case of lockdown
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1102:00102:00Portfolio assignments
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures include expositions of relevant issues and approaches relevant to analysing music. Although staff-led, they still presuppose preparation on your own part, usually involving listening and/or reading, and/or score study. Seminars and workshops encourage you to apply these approaches to the study of specific pieces or movements from them, and give you an opportunity to present and discuss your findings and test out your ideas. Through a series of increasingly challenging assignments undertaken for both lectures, seminars and workshops you should gradually acquire the skills and knowledge that the module aims to develop. About 5 hours preparation time is assumed each week.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1A502,000 words
Portfolio2A502,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Portfolios comprise key coursework assignments designed to test distinct skills and methodologies, and works and repertories studies at each stage of the module.

Reading Lists