History of Music Year One

Unit of Study - History of Music 101

The following applies to Year One Bachelor of Music students.

Unit Outline

Unit NameHISTORY OF MUSIC 101: Medieval to Baroque
Unit CodeHISTMU101
Unit DescriptionThis unit examines the development of music through the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, from ca. 800 to 1750 AD. The unit provides students with the opportunity to gain a solid understanding of the distinctive forms, compositional techniques and performance practice conventions of each of these periods, as well as to understand the social, political and religious contexts. Students will demonstrate their knowledge through quizzes, listening tasks and a scholarly essay. Small-group discussions will form a part of each lecture. Weekly readings and listening will be assigned through the Learning Management System (Moodle).
Award(s)Bachelor of Music
Unit Duration1 Semester (12 weeks)
Year LevelYear One, Semester 1
Unit CoordinatorDr Houston Dunleavy
Teaching StaffDr Houston Dunleavy
Unit Weighting10 credit points
Total Course Credit Points300 credit points
Mode of Deliveryx Face to face
x E-learning (online)
o Intensive/block mode (where the unit or a face to face component is delivered in a block)
x Distance/independent learning (un-timetabled)
x Full-time
x Part-time
o External
o Fast track
Student Workload
Delivery/ Contact Hours
Number of timetabled hours per week:

• One 1-hour lecture
• Tutorial n/a
• Preparatory reading/listening, study time – 7 hours

Total hours per week - 8 hours
Resource Requirements• Computing resource requirements
• External Technical Help
Resources Provided• Online streaming video and additional referencing videos
• Library resources (see prescribed or recommended texts below)
(e-readings list, listening list).

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this History of Music 101 unit, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural, social and technological contexts of music-making during the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.
  2. Display knowledge of the fundamental musical characteristics of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.
  3. Demonstrate a solid understanding of the musical languages, conventions, forms, and performance styles of music of these periods.
  4. Critically analyse musical works from selected composers of each period, identifying stylistic attributes that characterise works of these periods, and contextualising these works within the broader scope of music history.
  5. Present a scholarly essay that displays critical thinking, appropriate tertiary-level use of language and grammar, and a comprehensive applied understanding of the nominated citation system (APA author-date style: Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed).

Teaching Outline

Year 1
• Week 1
Gregorian chant, compositional philosophy (Guido de Arezzo and “Guido’s hand”, Boethius); the three styles of Notre Dame Polyphony – organum, fluid organum and discant; Ars Antiqua and Ars Nova; the motet; “Anonymous 4”; The Mass – Proper and Ordinary; tropes, sequences and isorhythms.

Composers: Léonin, Pérotin, Hildegard of Bingen, Power.

• Week 2
The rise of secular music; Jongleurs; the Troubadours; Trecento Italy and The New Polyphony; Dance music; the theatre becomes secular.

Composers: Machaut, Landini, Moniot d’Arras, Adam de la Halle.
• Week 3
The shift in harmonic language – the “sweet sound” and the English composers; musica ficta; the development of secular songs and instrumental music; madrigals; the Flemish composers and the Burgundian school.

Composers: Dunstable, Dowland, Du Fay, Binchois, Josquin.

• Week 4
The music of the Christian church; increasingly complex polyphony; the Parody mass; counterpoint developments.

Composers: Palestrina, Victoria, Ockeghem, de Lassus.

• Week 5
Renaissance keyboard music; scales and modes; the cultured amateur; more madrigals.

Composers: Byrd, Gibbons, Andrea Gabrieli, Gesualdo.

Baroque Period
• Week 6
Opera and texture; harmony; figured bass and continuo; Prima pratica and seconda pratica.

Composers: Giovanni Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Peri, Schütz.

• Week 7
Music of the church and court; patronage; Baroque forms – church and keyboard.

Composers: Corelli, Purcell, Alessandro Scarlatti, Couperin.

• Week 8
Opera and oratorio; the independent artist; Baroque forms – opera and concerto.

Composers: Lully, Vivaldi, J. S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Handel, Pergolesi.
Elective work Weeks 9-12
Students will choose one of the three groups of lectures that address the essay topics below. Each group will have one (1) lecture on academic essay writing (week 9), and three (3) recorded lectures that address the specific questions in the essay (weeks 10, 11, and 12).

Student Assessment

Assessment Type When assessedWeighting Learning Outcomes Assessed
Assessment 1
Quiz number 1 – Medieval and Renaissance music
The quiz will cover technical terms, historical data and a listening component drawn from the lecture content of weeks 1-3 and from the relevant listening list, which will be available on Moodle.

The quiz consists of 15 short answer questions on technical terms and includes a listening component (maximum 50 words per question). In the listening tasks students will be asked to identify the title, composer and date of the piece and answer a specific question on each listening example.

(Equivalent to a maximum of 750 words).

Quizzes will be posted online and must be completed and submitted on the due date within 24 hours of the posting.

Week 425%1, 2, 3
Assessment 2
Quiz number 2 – Renaissance and Baroque
The quiz will cover technical terms, historical data and a listening component drawn from the lecture content of weeks 4-8 and from the relevant listening list, which will be available on Moodle.
The quiz consists of 15 short-answer questions and includes a listening component (maximum 50 words per question). In the listening component, students will be asked to identify the title, composers and date of the piece and answer a work-specific question on each listening example.
(Equivalent to maximum of 750 words).

Quizzes will be posted online and must be completed and submitted on the due date within 24 hours of the posting.

Week 825%1, 2, 3
Assessment 3
Research Essay

Word length: 1500
An essay on one of the topics listed below, drawn from one of the elective topics presented in weeks 10-12. The essay must address the question posed and demonstrate the developments, causes, impacts and outcomes of the subject under discussion. Students must consult the following sources, and acknowledge these sources in the AGME citation style.
• At least TWO scholarly monographs
• At least TWO chapters from an edited book
• At least ONE article from a scholarly journal
• At least ONE score and ONE recording

Topic 1.
In what ways did the songs of composers such as John Dowland and John Dunstable differ from those of the Medieval troubadours? Illustrate your response by referring to text setting considerations and melodic and harmonic language.

Topic 2.
What did the music of Palestrina’s “Missa Papae Marcelli” demonstrate about how music was developing in the contemporary church? Be sure to discuss at least one contrasting work.

Topic 3.
How did the keyboard music of the Baroque differ from late Renaissance composers’ works? Refer in your essay to works by Byrd, Frescobaldi, J.S. Bach and D. Scarlatti.

Week 1250%3, 4, 5


All essays are to be cited in APA author-date style ( Chicago 17th ed.) This will be explored in week 9.

A good summary can be found here:


Prescribed Library Resources

The following are available through Moodle:

1. A subscription to Oxford Music Online and to Grove Music Online, which includes:

  • The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2nd ed.).
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd ed.).
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.).
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Opera.
  • The Oxford Companion to Music.
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Music (2nd ed.).

2. A subscription to JSTOR journals and books.


Recommended Readings   

Atlas, Allan W. 1998. Renaissance Music. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Brown, Howard, and Louise K. Stein, (eds.). 1999. Music in The Renaissance. (2nd ed.) Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall.

Burkholder, J. Peter. 2014. The Norton Anthology of Western Music. New York:  W. W. Norton and Company.

Burkholder, J. Peter. Donald Grout, and Claude Palisca, 2014. A History of Western Music. (9th ed.). Norton Anthologies, New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Everist, Mark with Thomas Forrest Kelly. Forthcoming. The Cambridge History of Medieval Music.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Everist, Mark. 2013. (a) “Singers, Scholars and the Performance of Medieval Polyphony.” Early Music 41: 44-48.

Everist, Mark. 2013. (b) “Master and Disciple: Teaching the Composition of Polyphony in the 13th Century.” In Proceedings of Conference: The Gothic Revolution in Music, 1100-1300, Musica Disciplina 58: 51-71.

Everist, Mark, and Thomas Forrest Kelly. (n. d.). The Cambridge History to Medieval Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hill, John W. 2005. Baroque Music: Music in Western Europe, 1580-1750. New York:  W. W. Norton and Company.

Judd, Cristle Collins, ed. 1998. Tonal Structures of Early Music. New York: Garland Publishing.

Kerman, Vivian, and Joseph Kerman. 2016. Listen. New York:  W. W. Norton and Company.

Korsyn, Kevin. 2013. “Composition Lessons With Bach.” Bach 49 (2): 227-247.

Kreitner, K, ed. 2011. Renaissance Music. London and New York: Routledge.

McAlpine, Fiona. 2004. “Beginnings and Endings: Defining the Mode in a Medieval Chant.” In Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 17th International Congress of the International Musicological Society IMS Study Group Cantus Planus, 165-77.

Schulenberg, David. 2013. Music of the Baroque. (3rd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Yudkin, Jeremy. 2017. Music in Medieval Europe Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Reference Materials

The Medieval period:


The Baroque period:


The Renaissance period:




Choral music:



The Norton Anthologies


Course Outcomes

#Course Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should be able to demonstrate:
Unit Learning OutcomesAssessment
1A broad knowledge of the applied, theoretical and historical basis of the discipline1, 2, 3, 41, 2
2A depth of disciplinary knowledge in a professionally applicable specialisation3, 4, 51, 2
3An understanding of the processes of musical scholarship and research1, 2, 3, 4, 51, 2, 3
4The ability to work both independently and collaboratively in diverse and complex musical settings3, 4, 53
5Effective written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills3, 4, 53
6Critical thinking and analytical skills appropriate to a range of contexts including further study4, 53
7The ability to apply specific musical skills to a wide range of professional contexts3, 4, 51, 2, 3
8The capacity to apply technological and creative solutions to contemporary musical practices
9The ability to incorporate knowledge from the business and legal fields to a portfolio career in the music profession

Graduate Attributes

 Graduate Attribute
Successful completion of this unit will contribute to the attainment of the following graduate attributes:
Unit Learning OutcomesCourse Learning OutcomesAssessment Number
1Deep disciplinary knowledge1, 2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 71, 2, 3
2The ability to apply knowledge and skills in innovative ways3, 4, 54, 5, 6, 73
3A commitment to lifelong learning1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3
4Effective communication skills for diverse contexts1, 2, 3, 4, 5 3, 5, 6, 73
5The capacity to work independently and collaboratively3, 4, 53, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3