MUS1044 : Composing and Analysing Music

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


This module builds upon the learning knowledge and skills of MUS1004 and prepares students for analytical and compositional practice at Level 5 (Pre-Final Year) and 6 (Final Year) modules across the music degree curriculum in ICMuS (for example MUS2041, MUS2044 and MUS2018). It recognises the Janus-faced activities of analysis and composition and places them as complementary activities through encounters with Baroque, Classical and Romantic musics. Students learn precepts of composition and musical construction through historically tried-and-tested approaches, beginning with principles of ‘strict’ counterpoint and moving to freer stylistic composition, emulating the styles of composers in the common practice period. Through this, students should acquire an understanding of essential musical principles that affords insight into a large repertory of music and equips them with skills transferable to many forms of free compositional practice.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module begins with a five-week 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 a compositional 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 module concludes with a team-taught session on analysis through composition and composition through analysis to reinforce the shared learning experiences of these musical applications.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion136:0036:00This is to prepare for the weekly formative tasks throughout the module.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture72:0014:00These are the seven 2hr lectures on the Case Studies and the final lecture
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00These are the five 1hr lectures on Species Counterpoint.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops51:005:00These are the five workshops after the Species Counterpoint lectures.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:0040:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will embark on a learning journey that begins with the fundamentals of analysis and composition in tonal music, the rule based practice of Species Counterpoint. The split of lectures and workshops enables the student to encounter a specific technique and then practice and develop it afterwards with support before then considering it within their independent learning time. The case studies use real world examples in which to explore compositional and analytic techniques to understand the music through both lenses, and the skills learned can become transferrable when undergoing performance studies.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2A100Two pieces of work comprise the portfolio one compositional and one analytic
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Design/Creative proj2AThese assessments will be set in response to compositional tasks.
Aural Examination2AThese assessments will be set in response to analytic tasks.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will submit two pieces of work one analytical and one compositional to show their engagement with the module. To demonstrate transparency in the linking of these musical activities (analysis and composition) the student will submit an analysis of a given 12-16 bars of Classical musical material (drawn from the content of the lectures) and then continue to compose in a similar manner for a complementary 12-16 bars.

Reading Lists