History of Music Year Three

Unit of Study - History of Music 301

The following applies to Year Three Bachelor of Music students.

Unit Outlines

Unit NameHistory of Music 301: 20th-Century Music to Post Modernism
Unit CodeHISTMU 301
Unit DescriptionIn this Unit students will:
• Develop concise knowledge of musical trends and developments of the 20th and 21st century.
• Explore the impact of technological developments, political landscapes and cultural diversity on music in the modern era.
• Observe the impact of postmodernism on music production and audience engagement.
• Discuss verbally and written major influencing factors and developments of contemporary music.
• Analyse peer reviewed literature and review authors’ intention and methodology.
• Research and collage peer reviewed and relevant material for a chosen topic.
• Synthesise a research paper on a topic derived from lecture content.
Award(s)Bachelor of Music
Unit Duration1 Semester (12 weeks)
Year LevelYear 3, Semester 1
Unit CoordinatorDr Houston Dunleavy
Teaching StaffDr Houston Dunleavy
Pre/Co-requisitesA pass in History 201
Credit Points10 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
• Lecture Theory 2 hour
• Practical Session - n/a
• Tutorial - n/a
• Personal Independent Study - 7 hour
Total hours per week - 9 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)

Unit Aims

The History of Music 301 unit further develops concise knowledge and comprehension of the major music developments in the 20th and 21st Century, observing the technological, multicultural and political influences of the modern age on emerging musical trends. Students will observe the progression of popular music through 20th and 21st Century, considering the impacts of changing copyright and music regulations, and the potential in composition and performances made possible through the development of Postmodernism and absence of a single defining structure or ideology, leading from contemporary classical music and minimalism.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Recognise the cultural, social and technological changes of the 20th and early 21st century and identify their impact on the development of contemporary music.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of the developments of contemporary classical musical styles including Impressionism, Serialism, Atonalism, Minimalism, and Postmodernism and their impacts on contemporary music.
  3. Identify the proliferations of non-Western musical trends and traditions on contemporary composers.
  4. Employ highly academic research skills in examining and comparing significant aspects of 20th and 21st Century music drawn from both classical and contemporary streams, formulating arguments realised in a research essay.

Teaching Outline

Year 3
Semester 1
Impressionism in 20th Century
• Overview demonstrating unity of foundational concepts. Diatonic, scales, intervals, chords, functional harmony, key signatures.

• Impressionism in music and art and the influence of Claude Debussy.
• Nationalist music produced by ‘The Five’.
• Music in the early 20th century in Europe.
• Music in the early 20th century in Britain.
• Serialism and Atonalism in music of the 20th century.
• Connection between Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern and the new ways in which they composed their music.
• Innovations and personalities of American composers during the 20th century and the differences between the American style as opposed to the Russian and European styles.
• Advances and differences in post-war music (1945 onwards) and pre-war music in the 20th century.
Composers from the early 20th century, discussions of their life and works:
• Claude Debussy;
• Maurice Ravel;
• Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff;
• George Gershwin;
• Richard Strauss.
• Arnold Schoenberg;
• John Milton Cage;
• Igor Stravinsky;
• Leonard Bernstein;
• Dmitri Shostakovich;
• Hans Werner Henze
Folk through Jazz and Blues
• Early music of the Native American Indians and the impression it had upon colonists.
• Folk music of the African American population during the time of slavery.
• Early transformation of African music into early blues music.
• Racial segregation of blues performers and the ways in which this was overcome.
• Progression of instrumentation used in blues music and the different styles this created.
• Characteristics of Latin American music and its origins.
• Distinction between jazz and blues.
• Early development of rock and roll music in the United States and Britain.
Pop, Rock and Metal
• Influence of British artists in the 1960s upon the music scene in both the UK and the US.
• Folk revival of the 1960s and the social and political stance many musicians took during the period.
• Emergence of the punk scene in Britain during the 1970s.
• Contrast of heavy metal, glam rock and progressive rock in the 1970s.
• Emergence of disco in the 70s and its impact on the mainstream music scene.
• Contrast of pop music and new wave in the 80s and the impact of the music video.
• Impact of Live Aid on social consciousness in the 80s and the ways in which such an event originated.
Music Today
• Growth of alternative music in the 1990s. Explore the sub-genres that also emerged at this time and how they are considered alternative in regards to mainstream culture.
• Origins and development of grunge music. Explore its rise into mainstream culture and the impact left upon music history after its decline.
• Growth and changes in pop music from the 1990s to today. Explore what constitutes pop and its various sub-genres, how it has evolved, and where you believe its future is heading.
• Development of music in the early 2000s, discussing the early direction music has taken and emergence of styles which are contributing to the current music industry.
• Independent artists and music and the resulting indie movement from its origins to today. Explore what constitutes an indie artist and if this has altered throughout the decades.
• Meaning of Postmodernism in music and the origins of this idea in history. How is the term applied to music? What is the difference, if any, between postmodernism and postmodern?
• Changing world of copyright and how the digital age affects copyright laws in music. Explore and research the history of copyright and the ways in which it has had to, and continues to evolve.

Student Assessment

Assessment TypeWhen assessedWeighting
(% of total unit marks)
Learning Outcomes Assessed
Assessment 1
Type: Weekly Engagement
Length: 500 words min. over unit
Participate in weekly forum discussions online/in lectures.
Week 1 - ongoing10%1, 2, 4
Assessment 2
Type: Literature Review
Word Length: 500 words min.
Write a literature review analysing a given article, as assigned in class.
Week 315%1, 2, 3, 4
Assessment 3
Type: Literature Review
Word Length: 500 words min.
Write a literature review analysing a given article, as assigned in class.
Week 615%1, 2, 4
Assessment 4
Type: Essay Proposal
Word Length: 500 words min.
Written report proposing area of study and arguments for final essay assessment, due in week 12. Present literature and early conclusions, including intended areas of study.
Week 910%1, 2, 4
Assessment 5
Type: Major Essay
Word Length: 2000 words min.
Produce an essay demonstrating the developments, causes, impacts and outcomes of one of the major developments in music studied this semester. Base your research on a notable composer and works from that period, and comment on its’ influence.
Week 1250%1, 2, 3, 4

Prescribed and recommended readings:

Library Resources
Online Resources (books/video)
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.

A subscription to JSTOR Journals and books
A subscription to Lynda.com video tutorials


Recommended Reading List

Coles, W. (1997). The Form of Music. London, England: Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

Cooke, M. (2008). A history of film music. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Crocker, R. L. (1986). A History of Musical Style. New York, NY: Dover Publications.

Fordham, J. (1999). Jazz. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble.

Gagné, N. (2011). Historical Dictionary of modern and contemporary classical music. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Gammond, P. (1995). The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Classical Music: An essential guide to the world’s finest music (revised ed.). London, England: Salamander Books.

Grout, D. J. and Palisca, C. V. (1996). A History of Western Music (5th ed.). New York, NY: WW Norton & Co.

Hall, M. (1996). Leaving home: A conducted tour of twentieth-century music with Simon Rattle. London, England: Faber and Faber.

Kamien, R. and Kamien, A. (1988). Music: An Appreciation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Menuhin, Y., & Davis, C. W. (1979). The Music of Man. Toronto, Canada: Methuen.

Metzer, D. (2011). Musical Modernism at the turn of the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Morgan, R. (1991). Twentieth-Century music: A history of musical style in modern Europe and America. New York, NY: WW Norton & Co.

Scholes, P. A. and Ward, J. O. (1970). The Oxford Companion to Music. Vol. 9. London, England: Oxford University Press.

Schonberg, H.C. (1997). The Lives of the Great Composers. New York, NY: WW Norton & Co.

Reference Materials

Botstein, L. Modernism. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40625

Brackett, D. Disco. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/46627

Dayal, G. & Ferrigno, E. Electronic Dance Music. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2224259

Dell’Antonio, A. Postmodernism. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2259137

Fast, S. Rock. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2257208

Hamm, C., et al. Popular music. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2259148

Kleiner, P., et al. Copyright. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40690

Laing, D. Folk-rock. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/46853

Middleton, R. Rock. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/49135

Middleton, R., et al. Pop. Oxford University Press. Web. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/46845

Pegg, C. Folk music. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/09933

Pond, S. F. Jazz-rock. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2241830

Ramsey, G. P. African American music. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A222683

Sun, C. Experimental music. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2224296

Toop, D., et al. Rap. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2225387

Tucker, M. & Jackson, T. A. Jazz. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/45011

Warwick, J. Pop. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2259112

#Course Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should be able to demonstrate:
Unit Learning OutcomesAssessments
1 A broad knowledge of the applied, theoretical and historical basis of the discipline1, 2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 5
2A depth of disciplinary knowledge in a professionally applicable specialisation1, 2, 3, 41, 4, 5
3An understanding of the processes of musical scholarship and research1, 2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 5
4The ability to work both independently and collaboratively in diverse and complex musical settings2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 5
5Effective written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 5
6Critical thinking and analytical skills appropriate to a range of contexts including further study1, 2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 5
7The ability to apply specific musical skills to a wide range of professional contexts1, 2, 3, 41, 2, 3, 4, 5
8The capacity to apply technological and creative solutions to contemporary musical practices2, 41, 2, 3, 4, 5
9The ability to incorporate knowledge from the business and legal fields to a portfolio career in the music profession.1, 4NA

#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, 5
2The ability to apply knowledge and skills in innovative ways2, 3, 44, 5, 6, 72, 3, 4, 5
3A commitment to lifelong learning1, 2, 3, 4, 51, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71a, 1d
4Effective communication skills for diverse contexts2, 3, 43, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3, 4, 5
5The capacity to work independently and collaboratively2, 3, 43, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3, 4, 5