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The University of Southampton

MUSI1014 Transformations in Twentieth-Century Music: Pop, Jazz, Art Music and Beyond

Module Overview

This module explores key developments that occurred during the twentieth century across a variety of musical styles and practices including jazz, popular and art musics. Various topics will be presented over the semester with each investigating how a concept and/or practice of music making changed during this time period. Topics may include analyses of 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’ changed during the twentieth century.

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 century music-making practices.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Improve your skills in analytical observation of music
  • Improve your skills in writing about music.
  • Introduce you to a range of musical idioms that were significant during the twentieth century.
  • Consider music of the twentieth century in social, political and cultural contexts.


A series of topics will be presented over the semester with each topic examining how a concept and/or practice of music making changed during the twentieth century. Examples of topics that may be explored include:  The emergence of new musical idioms and cultural practices (e.g. reggae, sound mass composition and be-bop).  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);  Debates around copyright and authorship in the practices of sampling, remixes and mashups in hiphop and electronic dance music.  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)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include  Lectures  Individual tutorials by arrangement Learning activities include  Individual study and listening  Library-based research  On-line based research

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

Resources & Reading list

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

Alex Ross (2009). The Rest is Noise. 

MUSI 1014 Blackboard site. 

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

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

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

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

Hartley Library reserves. 

Hartley Library audio/visual reserves. 

Mark Gridley (2011). Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. 

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

Andrew Ford (1997). Illegal Harmonies. 


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
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Examination  (120 minutes) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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