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MU5503: WORDS AND MUSIC (2018-2019)

Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This course aims to explore the link between words and music and how composers set various texts through many and varied genres, including eastern music, western music and popular music, and nonsense texts. Intended primarily for composers, this course would also be of interest to singers, conductors and musicologists with an interest in text-setting. Word-painting, structural design and poetic understanding will all be explored. 

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Paul Mealor

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • One of Master of Music (Studied) or Master of Music in Vocal Music (Studied) or Master of Music in Sonic Arts (Studied)
  • Any Postgraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Teaching will be by means of a series of practical seminars and workshops examining the major aspects of word-setting in both vocal (song) and choral works from plainchant to John Cage and beyond. We will also examine aspects of world music (African song, Indonesian Song), folk music and popular music (particularly The Beetles) and consider how these genres have affected contemporary vocal composers and the way in which word-setting has changed and developed. Running concurrently, seminar-based classes will provide an historical overview of word-setting that utilises the voice or choir correctly. The theme of each seminar, focused each week around a different aspect of the setting words to music, will provide the theoretical, philosophical, and aesthetic basis for practical applications. Drawing from readings, close analysis and listening of key vocal works, we will assess particular aesthetic issues that concern word-setting today.

Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Seminar during University week s 25 - 29, 31 - 35

More Information about Week Numbers

Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Summative Assessments

1st attempt: Seminar Presentation on an aspect of word-setting: 25 % Final compositional project: 75% Resit: Students resit any failed element of assessment.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.



Course Learning Outcomes


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