This module explores the history of key twentieth and twenty-first musical styles and practices including jazz, popular and art musics. Its scope is global, with the aim of "provincialising" European and North American experiences. In addition the module will explicitly feature women composers and musicians, tracing how women have made impacts in music across the time period.
The module focuses on "transformations": shifts in musical language and idiom, aesthetic intentions, performance practices, theories of listening, cultural contexts and divides, and how understandings of ‘what music is’ and ‘what it is for’.
Aims and Objectives
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- Provide an understanding of key developments in twentieth and twenty-first century music-making practices on a global scale.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Improve your skills in analytical observation of music
- Consider music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in social, political and cultural contexts.
- Introduce you to a range of musical idioms that were significant during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
- Improve your skills in writing about music.
A series of topics will be presented over the semester. Each will examine how a concept and/or practice of music making changed in a specific compositional or geographical context. Examples of topics that may be explored include:
The emergence of new musical idioms and cultural practices
The birth of "British" art music
Music in postcolonial contexts such as Africa, India, Latin America and China
Cultural and aesthetic debates (e.g. serialism vs. neoclassicism, progressive rock vs. punk, modern jazz vs. traditional jazz);
New ways of creating and organising sound (e.g. within electronic music, extended instrumental techniques);
New models and contexts for music-making (e.g. graphic and instruction based scores, improvisation, the studio album);
Theories about listening (e.g. within experimentalism, music concrete, soundscape composition);
New forms of rhythmic complexity (e.g. within heavy metal, new complexity composition, minimalism)
Non-European/North American "avant-garde" musics
Music and political movements (such as Civil Rights in the United States or Nationalism in Latin America and/or Africa)
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods include
Individual tutorials by arrangement
Learning activities include
Individual study and listening
On-line based research
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||38|
|Completion of assessment task||40|
|Wider reading or practice||40|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
John Cage (1973). Silence: Lectures and Writings. Wesleyan University Press.
Joseph Auner (2013). Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Robert P. Morgan (1993). Modern Times: From World War I to the Present. Macmillan.
Michael Nyman (2011). Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. Cambridge Univ. Press.
Paul Griffiths (1994). A Concise History of Modern Music. Thames and Hudson.
James Saunders (editor) (2009). The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music. Ashgate.
Paul Griffiths (1995). Modern Music and After: Directions Since 1945. OUP.
Alex Ross (2009). The Rest is Noise. Harper Perennial.
Andrew Ford (1997). Illegal Harmonies. Black Inc.
Include details of the proportion and weighting of coursework as well as the number, type and duration of examination(s). You must specify which element will be taken as the final assessment.
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
An internal repeat is where you take all of your modules again, including any you passed. An external repeat is where you only re-take the modules you failed.
Repeat type: Internal & External