Music first year modules

Module details

For students taking 80 credits of Music:

  • Music History I and II
  • Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint I and II

One module from:

  • Paper and Studio Composition
  • Performance

For students taking 60 credits of Music (This is the only option available for BA Maths and Music students):

  • Music History I and II
  • Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint I and II
  • Optional unassessed Instrumental or Vocal Performance (10 hours)

For those students taking 40 credits of Music:

  • A choice of either Music History I or Music History II
  • Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint I and II
  • Optional unassessed Instrumental or Vocal Performance (10 hours)

Compulsory modules

Music History I

This module offers discussion and analysis of central trends in the history of Western art music, across a broad historical span from c. 1200 to c. 1900. It does so, first, in order to enable students to begin developing a depth and breadth of Western music-historical subject expertise – not only in the traditional terms of composers and works, but in terms of transhistorical themes cutting across established repertoires and periods. Second, it enables students to explain the significance and relevance of their acquired expertise, and to put this to use as a foundation for their studies elsewhere in music.

Guided by staff research specialisms, the module’s lectures will treat a range of social, cultural, political, and aesthetic issues across this historical span, including (but not limited to) style, genre, expression, patronage, dissemination, and reception. In the seminars, students will focus on specific musical examples drawn from the lecture material: thus they will develop skills in critical thinking and musical and cultural analysis that will engage them with the Western music of the period and encourage them to make connections with other core modules in Music – particularly Music History II, which addresses themes in twentieth-century Western and popular music. Through the essay assessment, students will have opportunities to develop research and writing skills.

Music History II

Music History II provides history and analysis of key moments in twentieth and twenty- first century music. Crossing both ‘art’ and ‘popular’ musics, and aiming for breadth in terms of geographical coverage, the module seeks, first, to develop the depth and breadth of students’ subject expertise in twentieth century music studies across focal works, composers, groups, collectives, movements, and stylistic concepts; and second, to enable students to understand and explain the significance and relevance of that acquired expertise in order to use this as a foundation for their studies elsewhere in music.

The module will address twentieth and twenty- first century music in its historical, social, political and institutional contexts. Guided by staff research specialisms, lecture content may focus on (but is not limited to): avant-garde, experimental and electronic musics in Europe, Japan and the Americas; African-American styles and their influence on the development of Western popular music; the changing relations between ‘art’ and ‘popular’ musics in the twentieth-century; and global popular musics. In the seminars, students will focus on specific musical examples drawn from the lecture material: thus they will develop skills in critical listening and musical and cultural analysis that will engage them with art and popular musics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and encourage them to make connections with other core modules in Music. Through the essay assessment, students will have opportunities to develop research and writing skills.

Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint I

Weekly lectures will provide the theoretical background for the practical study of tonal harmony, analytical tools and music examples aimed at familiarizing students with the style of the ‘age of common practice’. Weekly seminars will explore the principles of harmony and counterpoint by means of practical exercises in harmonic analysis, realisation of figured bass and introductory chorale harmonisations. The seminars will also provide a forum for both discussion of weekly assignments and for the working or re-working of examples.

Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint II

Weekly seminars will continue to explore the principles of harmony and counterpoint introduced in Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint 1 and expand the repertory of practical exercises to include complete harmonisations of four-part chorales and a pastiche composition of Schubert-style song. The seminars will provide a forum for both discussion of weekly assignments and for the working or re-working of examples.

Optional modules

Studio Composition

The module will be taught in a variety of ways: in addition to ‘straight’ lectures, there will be demonstrations, workshops, electroacoustic studio sessions (including familiarity with computer-based editing, mixing and signal processing software) tutorials, and guided listening and reading. The aim is to stimulate the growth of composition and to use all available means to achieve it. Attendance at the weekly MiniBEAST listening sessions in the Dome Room is also encouraged.

Paper Composition

The module will be taught in a variety of ways: in addition to ‘straight’ lectures, there will be demonstrations, workshops, tutorials, and guided listening and reading. The aim is to stimulate the growth of composition and to use all available means to achieve it. The final assessment for Paper Composition will be played through either in the first week of the Spring Term or the third week of the Summer term. Attendance at workshops and seminars run in conjunction with the Department’s link with BCMG is also required as they form an integral and quality aspect of the course.

Solo Performance I and II

This module comprises the following elements:

a) One-to-one instrumental/vocal tuition.  This tuition (20 hours) is provided either by approved teachers at the Birmingham Conservatoire, or by tutors employed directly by the Department of Music, or, for Early Music, through the Department's Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR), and is normally divided equally between two studies, either two instruments or one instrument and voice.  The aim is to make as much technical and musical progress as possible and to provide a basis for further specialisation in solo performance in the 2nd and Final Years.

b) Independent work with aural training software, in order to maintain and improve listening skills.

c) Attendance at a minimum of eight Barber Evening Concerts

d) Attendance at all 5 Health and Wellbeing Seminars

e) Attendance at four Platform sessions