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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Music

Undergraduate Course: Ways of Listening (MUSI08063)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWe often encounter music as an entity in its own right: something brought forth through composition, performance, recording, production, and reproduction. What we hear when we listen to music, then, is an organisation of sounds.

But how we hear those musical sounds depends on numerous other factors that are thus relevant to musical analysis: these are the factors that will be central to this course.

We will discuss concepts commonly used to discriminate within, and to construct and deconstruct musical 'texts', and we will examine how these concepts differ according to who is doing the listening, and where (and why) they are doing it.

We will explore the problems of describing music by focusing on a variety of texts. Which descriptive terms are used, where they come from, and what are they actually describing? What is the appropriate scope of the description? What else needs to be described besides what we hear to get at what we are actually listening to?

Course description This course addresses the jointly creative and critical act of analysing musical 'texts' (sound, score, performance, imagination), providing a common conceptual vocabulary for music scholarship. It is a precursor to all further MA Music core courses.

1. What is 'musical appreciation'?
2. What is a musical 'text'?
3. Analysing music as performance
4. Analysing music as historical object
5. Analysing music as technological object
6. Analysing music as film score
7. Analysing music as ethnomusicological object
8. Analysing music as psychological object
9. Making sense of musical listening

1. A traditional Scottish bagpipe tune
2. A 1930s Blues number
3. A Beatles song
4. A live amateur operatic, choral or orchestra performance
5. A sentimental pop song
6. A medieval choral piece
7. A composition of contemporary chamber music
8. A North Indian raga
9. A piece of ambient electronic music.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students not enrolled on the MA Music programme should seek permission for entry via the Course Organiser
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should seek permission for entry via the Course Organiser.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  31
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 15, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 171 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. ESSAY: Critical listening and analysis of a chosen musical text (1500 words, week 5, 30%).

2. PRESENTATION: Critical commentary on a published piece of musical analysis (Group presentation, week 7, 10%).

3. TAKE-AWAY EXAM PAPER: Comparison of two contrasting music performance critiques, from a given selection (3000 words, December examination diet, 60%). These may include, for example:
a) Two printed reviews of live music of different sorts (e.g. classical and jazz) , or
b) Two video excerpts of judges' comments after televised performances in competitions, or
c) Two programme or sleeve notes from different genres (e.g. rock and choral music)"
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No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Draw on a wide range of terms and concepts to articulate your own analytical responses when listening to music.
  2. Recognise that different forms of critical listening are undertaken in different ways by different groups of people (e.g. historical musicologists; amateur and professional journalists; music psychologists; ethnomusicologists; everyday listeners; performing musicians, etc .)
  3. Identify the specific ways in which these groups 'listen' differently to one another by identifying the different values and concepts that each applies.
  4. Compare the critical insights and limitations of various practitioner and scholarly approaches to analytical music listening.
Reading List
Selected excerpts from:

Bernstein, Leonard. The unanswered question: Six talks at Harvard. Harvard University Press, 1976.

Blacking, John. How musical is man?. University of Washington Press, 1973.

Clarke, Eric F. Ways of listening: An ecological approach to the perception of musical meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Frith, Simon. Performing rites: On the value of popular music. Harvard University Press, 1998.

McClary, Susan. Feminine endings: Music, gender, and sexuality. University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Moore, Allan F. Rock, the primary text. Buckingham: Open University Press, 1993.

Pratt, George. Aural awareness: Principles and practice. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Tagg, Philip. "Analysing popular music: theory, method and practice." Popular music 2.1 (1982): 37-67.

Tovey, Donald Francis. Essays in musical analysis, Vol. 1: Symphonies. Oxford University Press, 1959."
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical/analytical listening skills. Communication skills (describing unseen objects using abstract concepts).
Special Arrangements After you have discussed taking one of our courses with your Personal Tutor/ School Student Support Office, please contact us to enquire if a place is available at:
KeywordsMusic, Listening, Analysis, Critical
Course organiserDr Thomas Wagner
Tel: (0131 6)50 2423
Course secretaryMrs Noureen Ehsan
Tel: (0131 6)50 9179
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