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Unit information: Technical Studies II: Introduction to Baroque Composition in 2015/16

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Unit name Technical Studies II: Introduction to Baroque Composition
Unit code MUSIM0143
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Scott
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit surveys the harmonic and contrapuntal procedures of the baroque period with reference primarily to the work of Corelli, Handel and J.S. Bach. The emphasis will be on 2-part writing, beginning with the composition of simple dance movements in the manner of Corelli and Handel and moving towards the 2-part invention style of Bach. At various stages the developing harmonic language of the period will be explored with reference to Bach's chorale harmonisations; students will also be given the opportunity to develop fluency in their application and practice of figured bass.


The unit aims to introduce key stylistic features of baroque instrumental music through the study of models and the composition of pastiche examples. Wherever possible, selected models and examples will be illustrated through live performance in class.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable students:

  1. to compose simple dance movements for violin and keyboard in the baroque style
  2. to compose 2-part counterpoint for keyboard in the style of J. S. Bach
  3. to harmonise chorales fluently.
  4. to identify and discriminate between the various stylistic characteristics of baroque instrumental repertoires, and to apply these characteristics in appropriate ways

Teaching Information

Weekly hour-long classes plus sign-up tutorial sessions in the tutor’s weekly consultation hour.

Assessment Information

Weekly exercises for credit

Final project (100%), consisting of a 3000-word analytical essay, and the composition of two complete movements: a sonata for violin and continuo in the style of Corelli, and a 2-part invention for keyboard in the style of Bach.

Learning outcome 4 will be demonstrated through the analytical essay. Outcomes 1-3 are demonstrated in the composition and harmonisation assignments.

Reading and References

Piston, W. (rev. ed. by DeVoto, M.), Harmony (London, 1978)

Corelli, Sonatas for Violin and Continuo, op. V

Handel: Solo Sonatas

J.S. Bach (ed. A. Riemenschneider), 371 Chorale Harmonisations (New York, 1941)

J.S. Bach, Two-part Inventions