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The University of Southampton

MUSI1014 Global Transformations in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Music

Module Overview

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

Learning Outcomes

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:

  • Introduce you to a range of musical idioms that were significant during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  • Consider music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in social, political and cultural contexts.
  • Improve your skills in analytical observation of music
  • 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 Global jazz 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 Lectures Seminars Individual tutorials by arrangement Learning activities include Individual study and listening Library-based research On-line based research

Wider reading or practice40
Completion of assessment task40
Preparation for scheduled sessions38
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Paul Griffiths (1994). A Concise History of Modern Music. 

Paul Griffiths (1995). Modern Music and After: Directions Since 1945. 

Joseph Auner (2013). Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. 

Robert P. Morgan (1993). Modern Times: From World War I to the Present. 

Michael Nyman (2011). Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. 

James Saunders (editor) (2009). The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music. 

Andrew Ford (1997). Illegal Harmonies. 

Alex Ross (2009). The Rest is Noise. 

John Cage (1973). Silence: Lectures and Writings. 


Assessment Strategy

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.


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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