Musical Revolutions

Module code: W3032
Level 5
15 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar, Lecture
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module examines the radical explosion of ideas that took place between 1890 and 1970, resulting in counter-cultures that subverted the authority of the 'classical', both within the concert-hall and beyond. The module explores a lineage of radical paradigm shifts in musical thinking and experimentation, incorporating new ways of thinking about ‘modernism’. This might include studying Debussy, Reich, Alice Coltrane, or Kaija Saariaho, whose works will be unpacked against their social, historical and political contexts. The module considers modernism's estrangement from the tastes of concert goers, how composers of the twentieth century responded to mass popular culture, and the impact of electronic and digital technology.

Module learning outcomes

  • Understand the impact of authoritative models upon the creative imagination of composers during the period covered by the module, demonstrating in particular an understanding of the social structures and institutions that reinforced such authority to define the roles and function of the resulting music.
  • Demonstrate an understanding and critical awareness of music's inner workings.
  • Show competence in the reading of musical scores and show comprehension of the technical means by which they are written.
  • Demonstrate, via appropriate format, detailed analysis of a selected topic, extensive research and appropriate methodology.