The MMus/MA programme has a strong focus on contemporary practice and emphasises the connections between the various areas of study while offering a degree of choice. The programme takes the contemporary musical situation as its centre, but explores its interfaces with diverse areas through the unusual concentration of specialists on the staff (including composition, improvisation, electronic music, critical theory, phonetics, installation, work using MAX/MSP).Entry RequirementsYou should have a good honours degree or relevant professional experience. Course AimsThis programme is unique in that its focus is expressed in temporal terms (contemporary music) rather than in terms of discipline (composition, performance, studio work, etc). This sets it apart from other programmes but also recognises that there are many promising composers who improvise and many theorists who are fine performers - while avoiding rigidity.
It also recognises the essential interdependence of critical thought and creative practice. The programme explores relationships between different musical practices, and between musical and non-musical domains, without losing the rigour of the central concerns of musical knowledge and compositional and performance technique.Course ContentYou may choose your modules, but any combination will provide a balanced programme of practical and critical work, the latter engaging in a range of methodological and critical issues related to the historical, political, economic and social context of musical creativity, including questions such as the nature of musical creativity.
Each module will have a range of assessments; some practical, others written, as appropriate. Students will choose four of the following 30-credit modules, including one or both of the asterisked modules, and a dissertation.Typical ModulesCoreMusic and TextThis module studies in depth the ways in which musical material and praxis has been written about in domains such as musicology, philosophy, sociology, critical theory, semiotics, and psychology, emphasising, but not limited to, the ways in which these topics have been addressed by recent and contemporary thinkers. It aims to develop the skills of research, analysis, synthesis and critical reflection necessary for advanced academic study.Locating PracticeThis module enables students to develop a contextual framework for their practice as composers, improvisers, musicologists, or performers. It also enables students to develop the theoretical understanding necessary for them to articulate a critique of their practice.Final ProjectThe award you receive at the end of this programme depends on what you choose for your dissertation project. If you undertake a written project, you will be awarded an MA. If you undertake a major composition or performance project, you will be awarded an MMus.ElectiveCompositionThis is the study of contemporary compositional techniques in the context of students’ own creative practice.MusiologyThis module provides an informed knowledge of the history, methods, theory, techniques and repertoire of recent contemporary music in all its forms. It enables students to develop the analytical understanding necessary for them to articulate the main issues, both aesthetic and technical, in contemporary music.Contemporary PerformanceThe development of technique and critical approaches to the performance of contemporary music, including matters of notational interpretation, freedom, and the role notational complexity in relation to realisation.Improvisation: Theory and PracticeThe advanced study of approaches to improvisation, taking sources from a variety of styles of improvised music, and exploring its connections with and differences to both “traditional” performance and composition, as well as the interaction between improvisation and live electronics.AssessmentEach module is assessed by a combination of practical and written elements as appropriate.