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Semester 1

Understanding Music History 1: Critical Approaches to Art Music in Europe, c800-1800 (MUSI08084)







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Visiting students must be able to read music (i.e. have score-reading skills) in order to be eligible for this course. **Spaces on Music courses are limited in 2022/23, and so enrolment cannot be guaranteed for any visiting student**

Course Summary

This course offers a critical perspective on the early pre-history of Western Classical music from the Middle Ages to the late Eighteenth Century. It seeks to introduce students to the music history of the period and to its wider cultural, political, economic, and philosophical contexts. The lectures and tutorials will explore major theoretical and aesthetic systems, and Issues of transmission, representation, cultural norms, performance practice, and music historiography. Students will be introduced to analytical methods and will develop an awareness of the ways in which music reflects the time period in which it is created.

Course Description

This course takes a critical and historiographical approach to the study of music from the Middle Ages to the late Eighteenth Century. It explores the emergence and development of new styles of music through this period and the ways in which they develop from and reflect the societies that produced them. It also focuses on the ways in which we have constructed our histories of these periods: what pieces, and what stories about them, are included, and which are not? Combining close study of a range of representative compositions with readings from primary and secondary literature, the course explores how these developments influenced approaches to music, and contextualises the history of music in terms of wider cultural and philosophical trends. Broadly, the course covers repertoires such as medieval chant, organum, and motets; Renaissance Mass cycles, and madrigals, Baroque operas, ballet, and chamber musics, and Classical concerti. With the context of these genres and repertoires, it explores how common ideas now associated with western art music, such as 'the composer', 'tonality', or 'musical form' were created, adopted, and adapted. The course is taught through two one-hour lectures a week, weekly tutorials, and set reading and listening. Please note that score-reading skills are a prerequisite for this course.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 50%, Coursework 50%, Practical Exam 0%

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