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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Music

Undergraduate Course: An Introduction to Musical Instruments (MUSI08083)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryMusical instruments are central to all forms of music. This course introduces the study of instruments, introducing methods and methodologies that can be used to inform ongoing studies across the music curriculum.
Course description Musical instruments are central to all forms of music. This course introduces the study of instruments, introducing methods and methodologies that can be used to inform ongoing studies across the music curriculum. Through considering instruments from around the world as socially and musically located craft objects that are tools for music making, a decolonised approach is central to the ethos behind this course. Sessions will touch on the history of instruments; the history of studying instruments; how instruments are made, preserved and used; the meanings that instruments gain through association; and the materials available to makers in different contexts. The course will be grounded in the University's Musical Instrument Collection and will be delivered through weekly lectures, each supported by a small-group seminar.

An indicative list of the topics to be covered in weekly sessions, shaped to cover the fundamental aspects of musical instrument studies is: the history of the study of musical instruments; collections, taxonomy and cataloguing; gathering, grouping, displaying and interpreting; materials; how musical metaphors are shaped by the capabilities of instruments; and different disciplinary perspectives concerning musical instruments.

The course is delivered in a series of weekly lectures (1 hour) by the Curator of the Musical Instrument Collection, who also acts as Course Organiser. This is supported by weekly tutorials/seminars (1 hour) led by Musical Instrument specialists and/or appropriate tutors from an academic school. Both types of delivery will take place at St Cecilia's Hall, the public face of the Musical Instrument Collection.
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 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Access to the Musical Instrument Collection by appointmnet.
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 50 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. Presentation: 10-12 minutes: 50%, to take place in week 6
2. Essay: 2,000-2,300 words: 50%, due in week 15
Feedback Formative assessment:
300-400 words: programme note or blog post for a concert audience relating to a musical instrument, due in week 4
Written feedback will be offered in week 5. In addition, students will receive verbal feedback from collections staff and their peers in tutorials on an ongoing basis.
Written feedback on summative assessments will be provided in accordance with University regulations.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a grounding in musical instrument studies;
  2. apply theoretical concepts and approaches derived from considering musical instruments from varied perspectives;
  3. understand how instruments connect with and influence their musical and cultural contexts;
  4. exercise observational and analytical skills developed through object-based learning using the University's Musical Instrument Collection.
Reading List
Barclay, Robert. The Preservation and Use of Historic Musical Instruments: Display Case and Concert Hall. London: Earthscan, 2005.
Dawe, Kevin. 'The Cultural Study of Musical Instruments'. In Martin Clayton, Trevor Herbert & Richard Middleton, eds, The Cultural Study of Music: A Critical Introduction, 274-83. London & New York: Routledge, 2003.
Libin, Laurence. 'Progress, Adaptation, and the Evolution of Musical Instruments', Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 26 (2000), 187-213.
Monelle, Raymond. The Musical Topic: Hunt, Military and Pastoral. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006.
Strauchen-Scherer, E. Bradley. 'Technology and Timbre: Features of the Changing Instrumental Soundscape of the Long nineteenth Century (1789-1914)'. In Emily I. Dolan and Alexander Rehding, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Timbre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Students will demonstrate an understanding of musical instruments and how they sit within musical, cultural and temporal contexts.
- Students will present and convey information about musical instruments to their peers and informed audiences.
- Students will critically review contrasting practices and thinking within musical instrument museums and collections, including how instruments are collected and cared for.
- Students will understand ways in which musical instruments, in combination with other source types, can contribute to wider musicological, historical and cultural debates.
- Students will undertake informed synthesis of ideas relating to musical instruments and how they are studied from varied disciplinary perspectives.
Keywordsmusical instrument; conservation; performance history; museum; music history
Course organiserDr Jenny Nex
Tel: (0131 6)50 2414
Course secretaryDr Ellen Jeffrey
Tel: (0131 6)50 2430
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