Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Music and Meaning

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Music Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is mainly concerned with what music means and how it means. It deals with issues concerning the specificity of musical communication, musical narrative, memory and the perception of the musical sound, the rapport between music and language, as well as the importance of the learning process in the assimilation of musical values and modes of thinking about music.

Students will be introduced to a sign-typology of music that will eventually dovetail well with different approaches to musical analysis. Musical examples employed throughout this study-unit will include an array of musical genres and styles, ranging from film music to folk, pop, and western art music.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to:

(a) enable students explore the communicative nature of music;
(b) assist students examine the various processes that determine the way people think, talk, and write about music;
(c) facilitate a deep understanding of the processes inherent to musical creativity;
(d) assist students recognise the social and cultural position, intentions and motivations of those producing the music, as well as the functions and acoustic context of the music.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

(a) recognize and examine different modes of thinking and discourse about music;
(b) identify areas of collaboration between musical analysis and contemporary theories of music communication;
(c) explore and reflect about issues of musical meaning.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

(a) build on analytical music skills that include the use of general aspects of communication and the evaluation of para-musical forms of musical expression;
(b) discuss critically issues related to meaning and communication in music;
(c) apply the knowledge attained to the analysis of different musical genres and styles;
(d) evaluate deeply the rapport between music and visual mediums such as in films and advertisements.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts

- Tagg, Philip. 2012. Music’s Meanings: A Modern Musicology for Non-Musos (New York & Huddersfield: The Mass Media Music Scholars’ Press).
- Sheinberg, Esti (ed.). 2012. Music Semiotics: A Network of Significations. In Honour and Memory of Raymond Monelle (Burlington: Ashgate).

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Seminar and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 30%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 70%


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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.