MUS2014 : Folk Tunes and Airs: performing the melodic tradition (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate:
1.       a knowledge of the major genres and forms of oral traditional music in the British Isles and Ireland
2.       an ability to perform to at least a basic standard, several instrumental tunes and airs in recognisable sets that take account of traditional genres and styles of performance.
3.       familiarity with the critical discourse and theoretical debates surrounding composition in traditional music, structure, oral tradition, communal performance, and the aesthetics of performance and sessions.
4.       an ability to compare genres, themes and content across a number of British and Irish genres of melodic traditional music.
5.       the ability to recognise and identify by ear essential components of a musical style
6.       the ability to recognise and describe musical organisation, style, genre or tradition in a tightly defined musical tradition

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is explicitly designed for any melody player across any of the music programmes or elsewhere in the faculty; no prior performance expertise in traditional or folk musics is required and students from any degree programme are encouraged to attend—the focus is not on excellence of performance but on understanding and comprehension of melodic structure, variation and improvisation in folk tunes and airs.

Students will be guided through selected critical listening and session performance of several key areas of British and Irish folk tunes and airs taking account of some key concepts and their manifestation in traditional music performance:
•       Key genres: jigs, reels, hornpipes, slow airs, Gaelic airs, marches, waltzes, Highlands, strathspeys, slides, polkas etc.
•       Phrase structure and repetition
•       Melodic variation and contour in folk tunes and airs
•       Regional style
•       Dance music genres
•       Agogic stress
•       Improvisation within traditional music and the boundaries of aesthetic practice
•       Notational systems in British/Irish traditional music (Great Stave, ABC, canntaireachd, mnemonics, The Sliabh Luachra ‘Code’ etc.)
The module is entirely focused on folk tunes and airs and therefore students taking the module must be able to perform on a melodic instrument of any diatonic kind (the module is not available to singers or to non-Western tuned instruments). Many instruments are however encouraged for students e.g. fiddle (violin), guitar, banjo, clarinet, oboe, cello, viola, bagpipes (Scottish, Uillean, Border, Northumbrian etc.), flute (Boehm or wooden), whistle, harp, accordion (other free reed instrument), mandolin etc. Students who play brass or keyboard instruments may wish to discuss the suitability of the module with Dr McKerrell prior to making module choices.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture32:006:00Introductory lectures to the musical field
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading401:0040:00Individual guided listening and reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical11:001:00Final Module Performance Event
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical182:0036:00Guided and taught performance sessions
Guided Independent StudySkills practice771:0077:00Private Practice
Guided Independent StudyProject work401:0040:00Work on performance project across the year individually and in pairs or small groups
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Practical music sessions provide the core of students’ practical learning (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, B1, B2, B3, B5 above). Lectures provide fora in which students learn key concepts surrounding traditional music performance, transcription, tradition and wider issues of aesthetics and performance practice (A1, A4, A7, B2, B3, B4, B5 above). Directed listening, performing, and reading deepen and strengthen students' understanding of the particular styles of music (A1, A4, A5, A7, B2, B3, B4, B5 above).

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Performance602A70Peer assessed performance
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M30Written portfolio of critical listening commentaries on albums and recordings
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Folk tunes and airs performance evaluates basic practical foundation, absorption in practice of key concepts etc. and overall level of progress and application in core practical study. The written portfolio of critical listening commentaries on albums and recordings evaluates your ability to conduct individual research into a topic informing your practice.

Reading Lists