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Introduction to Baroque Music - MUS00003C

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jennifer Cohen
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

This module will introduce students to the study and performance of music from the Baroque period.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19

Module aims

This module will provide an introduction to the study and performance of baroque music, through exploration of primary and secondary sources, critical discussion of pertinent theories and ideologies, musical analysis, and performance. It will cover topics such as the principles of rhetoric, the doctrine of affections, the performer-composer relationship (including the role of the score), and issues of stylistic performance practice (including the “HIP” movement, ornamentation, and rhythmic alteration). These areas played a central role in the composition, performance, and reception of music of this time. In order to explore these issues effectively, students will be introduced to the fundamentals of research – how to access primary and secondary materials and assess them critically. In addition, they will be encouraged to consider the practical implications of their findings, hence uniting issues of theory and practice.

This module will be taught through a combination of lectures, group discussions and practical exercises.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the taught part of the module all students should:

  • be familiar with a range of repertoire from the Baroque period;
  • have an understanding of the different styles and philosophies that influenced music of the time;
  • have an understanding of issues of historically-informed performance practice;
  • be able to apply issues of baroque style to performance;
  • know how to access primary and secondary sources and how to interpret them critically;
  • be able to apply theoretical issues to practice;
  • have delivered a short presentation to the class.


On completion of their independent work for this module, students should:

  • be able to present a detailed written discussion on a specific topic, by exploring, combining and critically commenting on information from primary and secondary sources alongside their own ideas;
  • have in-depth knowledge of their chosen subject area;
  • demonstrate learning outcomes learning outcomes A1-A9. 


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word essay
N/A 90
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Seminar presentation
0.33 hours 10

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The assessment for this module is a presentation (10%) and an essay (90%). Towards the end of the module, each student will present a 20-minute seminar on a specific topic agreed beforehand in a tutorial. This seminar will then be reworked into a 2500-word essay for the final submission deadline.


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written report form with marks to student no later than 4 weeks from submission of assessment.

Indicative reading

Primary sources:

Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel. Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments (Part One: 1753; Part Two: 1762), 2nd edition. Edited and translated by William John Mitchel. London: Cassell, 1951.

Couperin, François. The Art of Playing the Harpsichord (1716), 2nd edition. Edited and translated by Margery Halford. Alfred Publishing, 2008.

Mozart, Leopold. A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing (1756), 2nd edition. Edited by Editha Knocker with a preface by Dr. Alfred Einstein. London: Oxford University Press, 1951.

Tosi, Pier Franceso. Observations on the Florid Song: Or Sentiments on the Ancient and Modern Singers (Bologna, 1723). Translated by John Ernest Galliard (1742) with new foreword, annotations and index by Gregory Blankenbehler. [n. p.]: Pitch Perfect Publishing Company, 2009.

Quantz, Johann Joachim. On Playing the Flute: The Classic of Baroque Music Instruction (1752), 2nd edition. Edited and translated by Edward R. Reilly. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1985.


Secondary sources:

Donington, Robert. The Interpretation of Early Music, New Revised Edition. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992.

Haynes, Bruce. The End of Early Music: A Period Performer's History of Music for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Hefling, Stephen. Rhythmic Alteration in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Music: Notes Inégales and Overdotting. New York: Schirmer Books, 1993.

Tarling, Judy. The Weapons of Rhetoric. St Albans: Corda Music, 2005.


Additional reading will be suggested during the module.

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 Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

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