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Music 1: From Present to Past

Course Level: 1 (HE4) | HE Credits: 40 | Approx. Duration: 12 months at 8hrs/week


This course is suitable for anyone who wishes to develop an understanding of western art (classical) music, its instruments, its practitioners and its history. The course offers you a developmental and directed learning pathway, within a context of structured freedom to make your own listening choices and respond to musical works. The course provides a general survey of western art music from c1450 to the present day, its key composers and repertoire; and an exploration of sociological aspects of musical performance. Throughout the course, you are encouraged to appreciate the ways in which later and contemporary music forms may develop, expand and consciously refer to earlier styles or deliberately seek to deconstruct or break away from previous conventions.


The exercises and assignments are designed to help you develop an understanding of compositional forms and structures, tonality and atonality, a range of musical instruments, their sounds and mechanical developments, and of major social influences on the development of musical styles, forms and instruments. You are required to listen to a range of music from each era, and to develop your own opinions, preferences and responses to the music.

This unit will be removed as an elective unit from the BA Hons Creative Arts degree pathway from 28 February 2019.


This course aims to:

  • A1 provide a general survey of Western classical music from c1450 to the present day
  • A2 introduce the key composers and repertoire
  • A3 introduce basic musical notational and theoretical concepts
  • A4 develop a basic understanding of the sociological aspects of musical performance
  • A5 enable you to develop and express your own opinions, preferences and responses to music.


On successful completion of the course you will be able to:

  • LO1 Recognise a range of repertoire from different eras.
  • LO2 Demonstrate an understanding of historical aspects of western art (classical) music, from Renaissance to the present day, in terms of its exponents and major developments.
  • LO3 Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant forms and modes of communicating musical information, including textual, aural and electronic.
  • LO4 Demonstrate a basic understanding of the sociological aspects of musical performance.
  • LO5 Reflect upon your own learning experience.

Course content

  • Music today: how we listen to music in the modern world; modern contexts – electronic music, music in film, world music; instruments of the orchestra; contemporary classical music;
  • Twentieth century music: from 1990-1945, from 1945 onwards; new instrumental sounds;
  • Nineteenth century music: technical innovations and the orchestra;
  • The development of Romantic music;
  • The emergence of new audiences for music; C19th opera and Wagner;
  • The Classical era: classical forms of composition, musical performance and opera in the classical era;
  • Ars Nova, Renaissance and Baroque music: musical instruments of the Baroque and Renaissance eras;
  • Baroque compositional forms and major composers; music of the Ars Nova and Renaissance eras;
  • Past influences on contemporary music.