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Critical Reflection on Musical Performance

  • Module code: MU7014
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module is core for MMus Performance and is offered as an option for other MA and MMus programmes. The module will address the development of critical and aesthetic insights into both the substance of music and the varied practices of performance required to deliver high quality musical experiences across a range of genres. It considers performance roles, values and practices including issues of meaning in music and emotional responses to music. It will trace the development of aesthetic attitude theories and post-structuralist approaches to understanding and performing a wide range of musical repertoires. Themes explored will include: issues of authenticity, value judgements, virtuosity and the role of the performer. Themed lectures will introduce topics, followed by seminars which will provide opportunities for students to reflect and discuss issues raised in lectures, which are then consolidated in debates that relate ideas to specific texts, repertoires and personal performances. Assessment will be through prepared debates, on topics suggested by the tutor, a critical reflection of a filmed performance and an essay on a related topic selected from a choice provided by the tutor.

Aims

  • To develop in students an awareness of some aesthetic issues relating to musical performance;
  • To enable students to engage with and critique a range of articles, texts, musical scores and recordings related to the aesthetics of musical performance;
  • To develop skills of critical and analytical thought in relation to the practice of musical performance;
  • To enable students to express critical ideas on musical performance in both written and verbal forms.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate awareness and understanding of a range of issues relating to the study of musical performance;
  • Evaluate and assess a range of texts and other materials on musical performance;
  • Engage in debate on issues concerning musical performance and the values and practices of musical performers, in a critical and informed manner;
  • Express arguments relating to musical performance in an appropriate academic written format.
  • Analyse their own musical performances and apply critical ideas to them.

Curriculum content

The following topics will be discussed in relation to specific musical examples, introduced first by a lead lecture, consolidated by a seminar workshop, and furthered by a structured debate:

  • Virtuosity and performance;
  • Music as performance;
  • Authenticity in performance;
  • Performing popular music;
  • Emotional responses to music;
  • Meaning in music;
  • Aesthetic theories;
  • Writing about music as performance.

Teaching and learning strategy

The content is delivered via themes, each of which is delivered through keynote lectures, followed by seminars, and then debates are prepared on the delivered topics. Students will discuss and debate a series of topics informed by their evaluation of texts, scores and recordings which they have investigated, and will participate in debates and seminar discussions. Lectures and seminars occupy 1.5 hours per week for 22 weeks. At Masters' level in Music students are expected to undertake a significant level of independent guided study of 256 hours investigating study materials. Tutorial support for assessment preparation will be delivered in office hours. Additional support will be provided for students by the Academic Skills Centre and music-dedicated Study Space skills support.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lectures, seminars and debates 33
Guided independent study 267
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

2 Debates – 30% (formed from 50% written and presented component and 50% active participation in the debate)

Students are required to prepare a short statement on both sides of a critical debate on a topic (provided by the tutor) and to present one of these statements to open a debate. Students in the class will be divided into panels representing each side of the argument. Students must engage in the debate. A summary statement should also be prepared to close the debate. Both introductory and both closing statements will be submitted, with full references. 50% of the mark will be awarded on the statements and 50% will be awarded for student participation in the debate.

Critical Reflection on a Recorded Performance (c.1,000 words) – 25%

Students will choose a recorded performance to critique which relates to one or more of the issues discussed in class and to their own interests.  The item must  be agreed with the module tutor. 

Essay (c.2,500 words) – 45%             

Students are required to choose a topic which relates to one of the areas discussed in class and to their own interests as performers.  The assessment for this module is designed to test the students' understanding of the various and changing roles of the musical performer, their ability to interrogate the relevant published literature in the field of musical aesthetics, as well as recordings and performing materials and to express arguments and ideas related to this topic in written form.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Demonstrate awareness and understanding of a range of issues relating to the study of the aesthetics of musical performance; Assessed through formative (at least 2) and two summative debates. Through tutor feedback to students input into class discussions. And summatively through the critical reflection and essay.
Evaluate and assess a range of texts and other materials from an aesthetic and philosophical standpoint; Assessed through formative/summative debates and through tutor feedback to students input into class discussions and summatively through the critical reflection and essay.
Engage in debate on issues concerning the nature of the musical work, learning music, values and practices of musical performers, and the meanings and roles of musical performers in a critical and informed manner; Assessed through formative/summative debate and through tutor feedback to students input into class discussions and summatively through the critical reflection and essay.
Express arguments relating to the aesthetics of musical performance in an appropriate academic written format. Assessed through formative/summative debates and through tutor feedback to students input into class discussions and summatively through the critical reflection and essay.
Analyse their own musical performances and apply aesthetic and philosophical ideas to them Assessed through formative/summative debates and through tutor feedback to students input into class discussions and summatively through the critical reflection and essay.

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
PRC Two debates 30
Coursework Critical reflection on a recorded performance 25
Coursework 2500 word essay 45
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Abbate, C. (2004) "Drastic or Gnostic?" in Critical Inquiry 30, 505-536

Cook, N. (2001) "Music and/as Performance" in Music Theory Online 7/2 pp 1-19

Davies, S. & Young, J.O.  (2002) "The "Authentic" Performance of Music," 51-79 in Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley (eds.), Arguing about Art. Contemporary Philosophical Debates. London/New York: Routledge

Gracyk, T. (date unknown) The Aesthetics of Popular Music: Race, Gender and Expressive Authenticity The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, available online.

Herwitz, D. A. (2008) Aesthetics: Key Concepts in Philosophy. London: Continuum.

Kivy, P (2002) Introduction to a Philosophy of Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Meyer, L. (1956) Emotion and Meaning in Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Small, C. (1998) Musicking. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press

Smith, J.D. (2008) "A Defence of Virtuosity" American Arts Quarterly 25/3 available online.

Bibliography recommended reading

Adorno, T (2007) Philosophy of Modern Music. London: Continuum.

Cook, N. & Everist, M. (eds) (1999) Rethinking Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cook, N. (1990) Music, Imagination and Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dahlhaus, C.   (1982) Esthetics of Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Davies, (2001) Musical Works and Performances, a Philosophical exploration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Deliège, I. & Wiggens, G.(eds.) (2006) Musical Creativity: Multidisciplinary Research in  Theory and Practice, Hove and New York: Psychology Press.

Frith, S. (1996) Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Godlovitch, S. (1998) Musical Performance: a philosophical study. Abingdon: Routledge

Gritten, A. & King, E. (2011) New Perspectives on Music and Gesture (Aldershot: Ashgate).

Hamilton, A (2007) Aesthetics and Music.  London: Continuum.

Herwitz, D. (2008) Aesthetics: key concepts in philosophy. London; Continuum.

Juslin, P. N, & Sloboda, J. A. (eds.) (2001) Music & Emotion, Theory and Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kivy, P. (1995) Authenticities: Philosophical Reflections on Musical Performance. New York: Cornell University Press

Neill, A. & Ridley, A. (eds) (2008) Arguing about art; contemporary philosophical debates. Abingdon: Routledge

Scruton, R. (1999) The Aesthetics of Music.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Taruskin, R. (1995) Text and Act: essays on music and performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Taruskin, R (2010). The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays, California: University Of California Press.

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