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Unit information: Historical Studies 1: Western Art Music (up to 1750) in 2013/14

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Unit name Historical Studies 1: Western Art Music (up to 1750)
Unit code MUSI10045
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Pickard
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts


A study of key issues and repertoires within the tradition known as 'Western Classical Music' (drawn from the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods) interspersed with consideration of relevant cultural issues in which music was implicated in those eras, and an introduction to research and bibliographic skills required for historiographical work.


This unit aims to develop the student's knowledge base in relation to key repertoire within the field of 'Western Classical Music' (principally by investigation of particular works from the period c.1450-1750 and by relating these to relevant cultural issues). It also seeks to provide foundational skills for historiographical research into music, including an ability to evaluate existing published writings), effective use of bibliographical resources, planning and researching a short essay and (in a seminar context) presenting and defending an argument orally.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable the student to:

  • discuss in greater depth particular works and repertories introduced in the lectures
  • alternatively, to examine contrasting or complementary works
  • demonstrate a detailed understanding of social and cultural contexts for music
  • evaluate and apply strategies and methodologies for writing historical accounts of music, including relevant research methods, bibliographical tools, etc.
  • evaluate traditions and cultural values critically
  • search library computer catalogues and the Web of Science database to compile a bibliography on a given topic
  • know where to find books, journals, scores and CDs within the Bristol University and City libraries
  • make effective notes on reading and present assimilated information in bullet point form
  • develop a suitable short essay title from the reading undertaken by identifying issues of interest and debate within a given field
  • plan an essay correctly using footnote referencing and appending a bibliography
  • present and defend arguments orally
  • contest arguments in seminar discussion
  • internalise information and apply it appropriately in an examination context

Teaching details

Weekly lecture (1 hr) and weekly seminar (1 hr).

Assessment Details

2 x 1500-word essays (50%); 2-hr examination (50%).

Reading and References

  • Dahlhaus, C., Foundations of Music History transl. J. Bradford Robinson (Cambridge, 1982)
  • Strohm, R.,The Rise of European Music (Oxford, 1995)
  • Citron, M., Gender and the Musical Canon (Cambridge, 1993)
  • Forster, H. (ed.), Postmodern Culture (London & Sydney, 1985)