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Portfolio (50%)

Assessed Item 1

Students are asked to make an arrangement for one piano, two hands, of a brief excerpt from The Rite of Spring, writing either by hand, or using notation software.  The arrangement can be accompanied by a short (max. 100 word) description of what you’ve done and why you’ve done it in the way that you have.  You should submit paper and electronic versions of all items.

We will have a run-through of piano arrangements during the Thursday class of week 4.

This assignment should be submitted with revisions for formative feedback to the tutor’s tray by 5:30 in week 5, Thursday 2nd March.

  • include rehearsal numbers
  • include articulation and dynamics
  • use the full extent of the piano
  • listen to the piece and make a balance between what you hear and the actual score
  • ensure that everything is playable by a single pianist.  If there are difficult moments, try to ensure that there is sufficient time for the pianist to prepare and try not to make the arrangement uniformly difficult throughout.

Assessed Item 2

Students are required to write a strict serial composition for two or more instruments, lasting between 30 seconds and three minutes. A brief written commentary and two copies of the score should be submitted: a performing score, and an annotated score demonstrating the serial construction. This assignment will be played in workshop on the Thursday of week 8 and then should be submitted with revisions for formative feedback to the tutor’s tray by 5:30 on week 9, Thursday, 30th March.

Final Portfolio submission

The complete portfolio should be submitted electronically to Grademark by 2pm on Wednesday May 10th (week 13) along with the Essay (see below).  You should collect together all electronic elements (essays, sound files, etc.) and save them as a single (compressed) file and submit that.

Updated paper versions of the portfolio items should be submitted to the i-Centre by 2pm on Wednesday May 10th 2017.

Essay (weighted 50%)

You are required to choose ONE of the essay titles given below, which are drawn from the topic blocks of Musical Modernism and Experimental Music. Your essay must be no longer than 1500 words in length, excluding footnotes, indented quotations, examples, and bibliographical references, and must conform to published formatting guidelines. Your answers should cite specific musical works, and should include notational and/or audio examples as appropriate. This is due at 2pm on Wednesday May 10th  2017 (week 13) via Grademark

These are indicative Essay titles for the Music Pathway; these can also be negotiated with the lecturer to reflect specific interests

  1. Choose Debussy, Bartok, Schoenberg, Stravinsky or Webern and examine how their aesthetic outlook and working methods serve both to sever ties with their past and to root themselves in history. Is this a paradox?
  2. How did composers draw upon jazz, popular or folk influences in their music? Contrast some differing approaches illustrating with no more than two particular pieces.
  3. Have the Minimalists been co-opted by Popular music? What elements are used and which are discarded? Provide a detailed examination of a particular piece.
  4. Detail an instance of exchange of aesthetics and ideas between composers and the Visual Arts? Use a specific example.
  5. How did the American Experimentalist composers influence their contemporaries in Europe? Use one specific example, illustrated by one specific work.
  6. How have other cultures influenced particular composers, for instance Debussy, Messiaen, Lou Harrison (suggest your own choice if you like)?  Were these examples of ‘Exoticism’ or integral to compositional structure?


Please plan to attend all classes and arrive on time. Please be courteous to the collegial community we are creating this semester by not conversing with others during class lectures; be mindful during the class that this is time is designed to give you guided practice with some of the tools you will need in order to complete your assignments.

Participation means being an active member of the dialogue. It consists of doing one or more of the following: being prepared for class and writing comments in your notes and in the Facebook group, by making observations about the readings and exercises, by asking questions, by staying on topic. In class, taking notes, actively working on in-class exercises instead of unrelated activities like email, chat and general web surfing, and actively listening lends to better discussion.

Unexpected problems happen (serious illness, etc.), it is important to let me know so we can make appropriate changes to your schedule. If you will miss class for whatever reason, let me know as soon as possible so we can make alternative arrangements for this as well.