Developing Musicianship

  • Level: C/4 (1st-year Students)
  • No. of credits: 10
  • Module Code: MUS00071C

Aims & Content

The module is in two parts: Aural Skills and Keyboard Skills/Harmony and Counterpoint. 

Aural Skills develops musicianship through focussed listening to music, and critical reflection on that experience.  Through weekly engagement with questions of how we listen, what we listen for, and how our perception might be communicated, students will become more aware of that process, and develop their skills of perception and analysis of music, irrespective of whether a score is available or not.We will use the experience of real music as a starting point, rather than focussing on specific exercises.  Through exposure to a variety of music of different periods and genres, the following issues will be investigated, amongst others: form, timbre, harmony, melody, rhythm, style, technique.

Keyboard Skills/Harmony and Counterpoint develops and extends musicianship and equips students with the necessary skills (score-reading, transposition, harmonisation, improvisation, figured bass etc.) to achieve greater flexibility in seeking career development.  The ability to score-read, for example, is vital for anyone wishing to conduct; harmonisation and improvisation etc. are important elements in music therapy, and a working knowledge of figured bass playing and transposition is necessary for keyboard specialists.  All these skills should form an essential part of the technical equipment of any musician. Work in Keyboard Skills will take the form of an introduction to the various elements involved. Work in Harmony and Counterpoint will consist of considering and working exercises in various musical styles.  Classes will also analyse chord progressions and work at harmonising at the keyboard.


For Aural Skills (50% of the marks) assessment is through a take-away paper given towards the end of the Spring Term, which offers a choice of assessment task applied to a variety of styles of music (due Monday Week 5, Summer Term, 4pm).  For Harmony and Counterpoint (50%) assessment is through four take-away assignments throughout the year; two will be assessed formatively; the two summative assignments are equally weighted.

Reading and Listening

Keyboard Skills

  • Lang,  Score Reading Exercises in 3 & 4 Parts [Book 1]  (Novello)
  • Morris and Ferguson,  Preparatory Exercises in Score Reading  (OUP)
  • Sumsion and Wilkinson,  Transposition Exercises at the Keyboard  (Novello)
  • Morris,  Figured Harmony at the Keyboard [Parts 1 & 2]  (OUP)
  • Taylor,  An Introduction to Score Playing (OUP)
  • Taylor,  Playing an Orchestral Score (OUP)
  • Williams,  Figured Bass Accompaniment [2 volumes](Edinburgh University Press)

Harmony and Counterpoint

  • Butterworth,  Harmony in Practice  (ABRSM)
  • Butterworth,  Stylistic Harmony  (OUP)
  • Boyd, Bach - Chorale Harmonisation & Instrumental Counterpoint  (Kahn & Averill)
  • Piston & DeVoto,  Harmony  (Norton)
  • Piston,  Counterpoint (Norton)
  • Gauldin,  Harmonic Practice in Tonal Music  (Norton)
  • Pilling,  Harmonisation of Melodies at the Keyboard [Books 1-3] (Forsyth)




Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Aural Skills part of the module, students should:

  • be aware of the different ways in which we listen to music, and be able to adopt listening strategies as appropriate
  • have developed their own listening skills through a weekly series of focussed activities
  • have considered issues of form, harmony, melody, rhythm and texture, and the techniques available to discuss them
  • be more aware of what they are hearing, and be able to communicate that experience through a variety of different formats: oral commentary, written account, diagrammatically
  • have improved their abilities to write down heard music in conventional and non-conventional music notation
  • have developed skills in placing new pieces of music into context, and draw upon previous experience to make critical judgements.

By the end of the Keyboard Skills/Harmony and Counterpoint part of the module, students should:

  • have acquired a greater understanding of harmonic practice through the harmonising of melodies and the use of figured bass.
  • have developed basic skills in playing from an open score (G and F clefs).
  • have gained a practical knowledge of the various C clefs (Alto, Tenor and Soprano) and of transposing instruments.
  • have developed basic skills in transposition.
  • have studied the main elements of tonal harmony and practice from the ‘common practice’ era c.1600-1900.
  • have demonstrated knowledge of this through the completion of written exercises in differing styles (eg chorale, string quartet etc.) and by harmonisation at the keyboard and by listening.
  • have analysed chord progressions in excerpts from music literature.
  • have studied 18th century counterpoint (2-part/3-part) through analysis and written exercises.