四虎影院

Accessibility statement

Popular Music & Experimentation - MUS00172C

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jack McNeill
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This project will look at experimental approaches to the composition and production of popular music, looking at conceptual, musical and technological themes. Students will gain practical knowledge of DAW-based composition, production techniques and sound design.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

From SOPHIE’s synthetic percussion textures, and the AI-cyborg-human collaborations of Holly Herndon to the pointillistic trance of Lorenzo Senni and the wonky beat-based excursions of Lorraine James, the experimental composition and production of popular music comes in all styles and forms. While some artists and groups tend to experiment with works’ musical characteristics and sound production, others choose to approach work conceptually. The diverse musical and conceptual approaches of experimental popular music barely touched upon here are exactly what this module will explore.

Combining critical thinking, cultural studies, analysis and practice, sessions will include: introductions to and discussions on theory and concepts that form the backbone of experimental pop styles; discussions on general themes of experimentation in the sonic and visual arts; discussions on the role of technology in experimentation; and debate around specific compositional and production strategies. Students will participate in lectures, seminars and creative workshops, using DAWs, sound design tools, musical instruments, found sound, and idiosyncratic production techniques to devise experimental approaches to composing and producing popular music. Throughout the module students will also engage in regular analytical and critical listening sessions on existing works of experimental popular music, attempting to deconstruct, reconstruct and challenge existing approaches.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the taught part of the project all students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a general understanding of experimentation in popular music and identify artists, genres, labels and movements critical to its development;

  • Critically engage with theories and concepts around experimentalism and music creation;

  • Participate in creative music-making workshops, proposing, testing and appraising idiosyncratic approaches;

  • Participate in critical and analytical listening sessions, review existing work, and propose its relevance to their own practice;

  • Create original compositions and evaluating them in the context of continuing experimental popular music practices.

In their independent work for this module, students will be required to demonstrate Learning Outcomes A1–7 and 9, 10 and/or 12 as appropriate.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark Group
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100 Default
Essay/coursework
Commentary
N/A 30 B
Essay/coursework
Composition or set of compositions
N/A 70 B

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Option 1: Composition or set of compositions (c.9 mins total in the form of a recorded piece or pieces of popular music, using either acoustic or electronic media) (70%); 1000-1500 word commentary (30%)

Option 2: c. 4000 word essay (100%)

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark Group
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100 Default
Essay/coursework
Commentary
N/A 30 B
Essay/coursework
Composition or set of compositions
N/A 70 B

Module feedback

Mark and report within 25 working days of submission of assessment.

Indicative reading

Carla dal Forno, You Know What It’s Like, Blackest Ever Black, 2016.

Crispin, Darla, and Bob Gilmore. Artistic Experimentation in Music. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2014.

Fell, Mark. Structure and Synthesis: the Anatomy of Practice / Mark Fell Urbanomic; 2021.

Holly Herndon, PROTO, 4AD, 2019.

Lorenzo Senni, Quantum Jelly, Presto!?, 2014.

Reynolds, Simon. Energy Flash: a Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture, London: Picador, 1998.

Shryane, Jennifer. Blixa Bargeld and Einstu¨rzende Neubauten: German Experimental Music: 'evading Do-Re-Mi', London: Routledge, 2016.

Sicko, Dan, ProQuest, and ProQuest CSA. Techno Rebels: the Renegades of Electronic Funk, Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2010.

SOPHIE, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, MSMSMSM, 2018.

Yves Tumor, When Man Fails You, Apothecary Compositions, 2015.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of 四虎影院.