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Unit information: From Notation to Performance in 2015/16

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Unit name From Notation to Performance
Unit code MUSI30104
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Tarrant
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

How do you get from the notes on the page to a performance? The challenges in early western repertoires are enormous: the earliest notations can only be read if you already know the melody; much early polyphony has no rhythmic notation. The baroque period is a familiar focus for considering ornamentation, improvisation and playing techniques, and the challenges continue beyond Mozart (if he would have improvised on the piano during the orchestral tuttis of his piano concertos, should we?) to our own time. The course will be structured around a series of case studies as we delve into the status of the Work concept and the place of performative creativity in different western contexts, including our own. Our focus will be on establishing what knowledge is needed to successfully translate the expectations of composers and notators into modern editions and performances.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable students to do the following:

  1. explore and gain deeper understanding of many different types of music;
  2. describe with confidence the techniques and procedures employed;
  3. understand the historical contexts in which these repertories came into being;
  4. assess how political, economic and social situations have influenced various approaches to musical composition;
  5. write critically and perceptively about a wide range of musical topics, using appropriate language and terminology;
  6. demonstrate, where relevant, a detailed knowledge of relevant performance practices;
  7. defend and critique arguments orally and in writing;
  8. incorporate a consistently strong grasp of detail with respect to content;
  9. argue effectively and at length (including an ability to cope with complexities and to describe and deploy these effectively);
  10. display to a high level skills in selecting, applying, interpreting and organising information, including evidence of a high level of bibliographical control;
  11. describe, evaluate and/or challenge current scholarly thinking;
  12. discriminate between different kinds of information, processes, interpretations;
  13. take a critical stance towards scholarly processes involved in arriving at historical knowledge and/or relevant secondary literature;
  14. engage with relevant theoretical, philosophical or social constructs for understanding relevant works or traditions;
  15. demonstrate an understanding of concepts and an ability to conceptualise;
  16. situate material within relevant contexts (invoking interdisciplinary contexts where appropriate);
  17. apply strategies laterally (perhaps leading to innovative results).

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminars for the whole cohort (levels H/6 & M/7).

Assessment Information

All the assessment is summative.

  • 1x3,000-word essay (50%);
  • 1x 2-hour exam (50%).

Both the essay and the exam will demonstrate learning outcomes (1)-(17), with the essay in particular allowing students to demonstrate learning outcomes (9)-(13) .

Reading and References

  1. Caldwell, John, Editing Early Music (Clarendon Press, 2nd edition, 1995)
  2. Dunsby, Jonathan, Performing Music: Shared Concerns (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  3. Grier, James, The Critical Editing of Music (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
  4. Nyman, Michael, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 1999)
  5. Rastall, Richard, The Notation of Western Music: an Introduction (Leeds University Press, 2nd edition, 1998)
  6. Taruskin, Richard, Text & Act: Essays on Music and Performance (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)