History of Music Year Three

Unit of Study - History of Music 301

The following applies to Year Three Bachelor of Music students.

Unit Outline

Unit NameHistory of Music 301: Music Since 1893
Unit CodeHISTMU301
Unit DescriptionHistory of Music 301 develops concise knowledge of musical trends and developments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will explore the impact of technological developments, political landscapes and cultural diversity on music of the modern era. The unit examines the complex web of styles that have developed since the height of 19th-century Romanticism (including the continuing of the romantic aesthetic) and takes special note of more recent aesthetics such as post-modernism, and of the development of Australian music, jazz, and popular music.
Students will demonstrate their understanding of these characteristics and changes through quizzes, listening tests during the semester and an investigative project at the of the semester.
Research into scholarly literature and relevant material, such as standard texts, peer-reviewed papers and online video resources for the chosen topic will provide the basis for a scholarly investigative essay on one of the given topics below. These topics are based on the elective choices that students can make from one of three (3) areas available from week 9 of the course. Students will select one of group of four elective lectures, available as video uploads, and use them as springboards towards answering the related essay topic.

Award(s)Bachelor of Music
Unit Duration1 Semester (12 weeks)
Year LevelYear Three, Semester 1
Unit CoordinatorDr Houston Dunleavy
Teaching StaffDr Houston Dunleavy
Pre/Co-requisitesSuccessful completion of HISTMU201
Credit Points10 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 2-hour lecture
• Tutorial n/a
• Preparatory reading/listening, study time - 6 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 301 unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the cultural, social and technological changes, including religious, political and philosophical influences that shaped and developed early music trends since the Romantic period.
  2. Display knowledge of the fundamental musical developments from the end of the Romantic period.
  3. Demonstrate a grasp of the techniques, forms and performance styles of music of the 20th and early-21st centuries.
  4. Critically analyse musical works from relevant musical composers, identifying stylistic attributes that discern works of certain periods, and contextualise these works within the broader scope of music history.
  5. Present a clearly-argued essay that displays critical thinking, sophisticated use of language.

Teaching Outline

Year 3
Music until 1945
• Week 1
The end of Romanticism? The anti-Romantics; politics and music; the shock of the new; Futurism, Pastoralism, Impressionism and the future of Romanticism.

Composers: Debussy, Schoenberg, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Puccini, L. Boulanger, Beach, Stravinsky.

• Week 2
The fallout The Great War, Expressionism, Dadaism, Nationalism, Absurdism, the end of tonality? Are the Romantics all gone? The meaning of avant garde.

Composers: Antheil, Bartók, Vaughan Williams (again), Schoenberg (again), Sibelius, Stravinsky (again).

• Week 3
The Second Viennese School. Serialism and atonality; Neo-classicism; The Jewish diaspora; Les Sixes.

Composers: Berg, Webern, Milhaud, Hindemith, Varese, Honnegger, Tailleferre.

• Week 4
The USA. Jazz; the movies; Tin Pan Alley; the American symphonists; the American mavericks; the American serialists.

Composers: Ives, Gershwin, Joplin, Hanson, Crumb, Ellington, Pearle.
Music since 1945
• Week 5
The fallout of World War 2. The Darmstadt school; total serialism; electronic and computer music; humour and satire; the old guard.

Composers: Berio, Stockhausen, Messiaen, Boulez, Hoffnung, Schaeffer, Varese (again), Walton, Copland, Britten.

Week 6
The 1960s (freedom, electronics, computers, approach to the score); Fluxus.

Composers: Erb, Feldman, Penderecki, Maxwell Davies, Riley, Young, Derbyshire, Ohrem, Glass, Reich, Cage, Cardew.

• Week 7
Postmodernism; Neo-Romanticism; where are we now?

Composers: Larsen, Zappa, Dun, Adams, Takemitsu, Taaffe Zwilich, Zorn, Rihm.

Australian music
• Weeks 8-9
Music in Australia. Colonialism v. post-colonialism; the search for an identity; Aboriginal music – then and now; the “magpie theory”;

Composers: Alfred Hill, Mirrie Hill,Hyde, Sculthorpe, Butterley, Meale, Boyd, Conygham, Tahourdin, Vine, Burt, Edwards, Finsterer, Lim, Kerry, Glanville-Hicks, Greenbaum, Hindson, Hyde, Westlake.
Elective work - weeks 10-12
Students will be able to access one of the three groups of lectures that address the essay topics below. Each group will have three (3) pre-recorded lectures that address the specific questions in the essay.

1. Major world conflicts and the response of composers and musicians.

World wars 1 and 2, (including the post-Hiroshima bomb period); The Korean War; the Vietnam War; modern parallels.

2. Post-imperial and post-colonial nationalism around the world.

The rise of national identities; the rediscovery of traditional folk music; “traditional” instruments; “World music”.

3. The legacy of Romanticism.
The pendulum swings away for some, others desperately hang on or take it further or explore new areas; still others look at what might have been forgotten.

Completing the learning and assessment tasks in this subject will assist students in developing the following AGME Graduate Qualities.

Student Assessment

Assessment Type When Assessed Weighting
Learning Outcomes Assessed
Assessment 1:
Quiz number 1 – Music from 1890-1945
The quiz will cover technical terms, historical data and a listening component from weeks 1-4 lecture content and from the relevant listening list.
Maximum 500 words
Week 4 20%1, 2, 3
Assessment 2:
Quiz number 2 – Music since 1945
The quiz will cover technical terms, historical data and a listening component from weeks 4-7 lecture content and from the relevant listening list.
Maximum 500 words
Week 8 20%1, 2, 3
Assessment 3: Research Essay
Type: Essay
Word length: 2000

An essay written 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 FOUR scholarly monographs
• At least FOUR chapters from an edited book
• At least THREE articles from a scholarly journal
• At least TWO scores and TWO recordings

Topic 1.
The major, minor and potential conflicts of the 20th century have had a major effect on the music written as a response to those events. With reference to two (2) composers and their works studied in this course, discuss the reactions of composers to world events and contextualise the works produced within world events.

Topic 2.
There rise of the nation state in the 20th century is often expressed in nationalistic terms. Choose two (2) composers you have studied this semester and examine their musical output in terms of their response to nationalist sentiments in their own countries.

Topic 3.
There have been a number of reactions to 19th-century Romanticism in the last 100 years. Discuss the music written by two (2) specific composers studied in this course in this context.
Week 13 60%3, 4, 5

Prescribed and Recommended Readings:

Library Resources

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.).

Plus updated content bibliographies, specially-commissioned articles only available online.

2. A subscription to JSTOR Journals and books


Recommended Reading List

Reference Materials

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.

Ford, Andrew. 2011. Illegal Harmonies: Music in The Modern Age. Melbourne: Black Inc.

Griffiths, Paul. 2011. Modern Music and After. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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

Kerry, Gordon. 2009. New Classical Music: Composing Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Schwartz, Elliot, Godfrey, Daniel. 1993. Music Since 1945: Issues Material and Literature. New York: Schirmer.

Smith-Brindle, Reginald. 2003. The New Music: the avant garde since 1945 (2nd ed.). London: Oxford University Press.

Taruskin, Richard. 2010. Music in the Early 20th Century. London, UK: Oxford University Press.

Taruskin, Richard. 2010. Music in the Late 20th Century. London, UK: Oxford University Press.


Reference Sources









Structuralism and post-structuralism:








 Course Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should be able to demonstrate:
Unit Learning OutcomesAssessments
1A broad knowledge of the applied, theoretical and historical basis of the discipline1, 2, 3, 41, 2, 3
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, 51, 2, 3
5Effective written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills3, 4, 51, 2, 3
6Critical thinking and analytical skills appropriate to a range of contexts including further study4, 51, 2, 3
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 Attribute
Successful completion of this unit will contribute to the attainment of the following graduate attributes:
Unit Learning OutcomesCourse Learning OutcomesAssessments
1Deep disciplinary knowledge1, 2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 71, 2, 3, 4
2The ability to apply knowledge and skills in innovative ways3, 4, 54, 5, 6, 72, 3, 4
3A commitment to lifelong learning1, 2, 3, 4, 51, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 72, 3, 4
4Effective communication skills for diverse contexts1, 2, 3, 4, 53, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3, 4
5The capacity to work independently and collaboratively3, 4, 53, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3, 4