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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
SummaryThis course teaches you to think critically and write well about music. You do not need specialist musical training to take this course. The course is likely to challenge your assumptions about music listening, and will make you think (and write) conceptually - which should help to improve your critical thinking and writing skills generally.
You will gain an overview of scholarly perspectives through set reading and weekly lectures, learning how different groups of people use different concepts to construct knowledge about music and to analyse it. At weekly listening seminars, you will focus on pieces of music selected by invited expert listeners, who will share with you what they can hear.
Course description When we listen to music we hear an organisation of sounds. The sounds that we call music come about not only through acts of composition, but also through performance, recording, production, and reproduction. There are many dimensions to describe: a theme, a tune, a groove, harmony, the quality of a singer's voice, and so on. In this course, you will learn that many factors influence the way we understand music, and that the words we use to describe musical sounds are usually conceptual rather than literal. This course will give you experience in using such words to organise and explore your ideas about musical listening.
This course addresses the jointly creative and critical act of analysing musical 'texts' (sound, score, performance, imagination). We will discuss the concepts used to analyse, to construct, and to deconstruct musical 'texts' from many sources, and we will examine how these concepts differ according to who is doing the listening, and where (and why) they are doing it. Which descriptive terms are used? Where do these concepts come from, and what are they actually describing? What is the scope of this description? How much can it tell us about how the music works? What else needs to be taken into account besides what we hear to get at what we are actually listening to?

Lecture topics cover:
- What is musical appreciation?
- What is a musical 'text'?
- Musical perspectives: History; Performance; Technology; Soundtrack; Ethnomusicology; Psychology
- Making sense of musical listening

Listening seminars may include, for example:
- A track of electronic music
- A traditional Gaelic song
- A jazz improvisation
- A contemporary composition of chamber music
- A Beatles song
- A Romantic symphonic work
- A North Indian raga
- A live amateur operatic, choral or orchestra performance
- A twentieth-century work of art music

Prioritised reading (and listening) lists are available. You are required to prepare for lectures and listening seminars by completing at least the Essential reading and listening material. Preparation for tutorials involves specific study tasks. You will need to do this preparation to receive effective feedback on your progress and to progress well.

There are two assessed components. The first is a group presentation in week 8. The second is a 2000-word essay, submitted after teaching finishes.
Written formative feedback is offered on a writing task submitted in Week 5 (feedback within 15 working days). Verbal formative feedback is provided during small-group tutorials.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
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 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. GROUP PRESENTATION (30%): Critiquing the critics.

2. ESSAY (2000 words, 70%): Critical listening and analysis.

For guidance on all written work, please see the Music Guide to Academic Writing, included on the Learn course page.
Feedback All students submit a formative written assignment mid-way through the semester. You will be given written feedback on this within 15 days of the hand-in date.
Verbal formative feedback on group work is provided during the small group tutorial prior to the assessed group presentations.

All listening seminars involve discussion and interaction with staff and other students as a part of the teaching format; the lectures also offer plenty of scope for questions and discussion. These are all important forms of feedback, which you will make the most of when you are well prepared. Preparation means spending time studying ahead of the class, completing at least the 'Essential' reading and listening.
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. Compare the critical insights and limitations of various practitioner and scholarly approaches.
Learning Resources
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:
Course organiserDr Nikki Moran
Tel: (0131 6)50 2423
Course secretaryMiss Carrie Lyall
Tel: (0131 6)50 2422
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