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Writing for the String Quartet - MUS00156C

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Thomas Simaku
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

A hands-on introduction to some key works from the string quartet repertoire, and an excellent opportunity to learn about writing for the medium.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aim of this 10 credit module is the introduction to some key works from the string quartet repertoire; and, with its hands-on approach, it is an excellent opportunity to learn about writing for the medium. Whilst some key works from the classical period (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) will be the starting point, the focus of the project will be the 20th & 21st Century repertoire and masterworks by composers such as Bartok, Debussy, Ravel, Shostakovich, and Ligeti, among others. The assignments will consist of three exercises concerning the melodic, harmonic and timbral aspects, which will serve as a starting point for a short and concise composition for string quartet. 

Module learning outcomes

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

  • have extended their knowledge of the 20th century string quartet repertoire;
  • have developed a deeper analytical awareness;
  • have acquired a good understanding of compositional techniques as demonstrated in some key-works by 20th and 21st century composers;
  • broadened their knowledge of issues concerning the composers stylistic individuality
  • have developed their presentation skills.

First years: On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate learning outcomes A1-6 and A10 : https://www.york.ac.uk/music/undergraduate/modules/learning-outcomes/

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Composition portfolio
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Students will submit a portfolio consisting of:

a) three exercises concerning the melodic, harmonic and timbral aspects of string quartet writing, which will serve as a starting point for

b) a short composition for string quartet (ca. 3 minutes), accompanied by a brief commentary

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Composition portfolio
N/A 100

Module feedback

Report form, with marks to student no later than 20 working days from submission of assessment.

Indicative reading

Listening & Reading  

 

Suggested Scores

  • Haydn - Op 33, Op.50, Op 64, Op.76
  • Mozart - ‘The Haydn’ Quartets
  • Beethoven - The Late Quartets
  • Bartok - String Quartets (all six)
  • Ravel –String Quartet
  • Debussy –String Quartet
  • Shostakovich - String Quartet No 8, 12, 15
  • Janacek -String Quartet No.1 & 2
  • Berg - Lyric Suite, String Quartet Op.3
  • Schoenberg - String Quartet No.2 and No.4
  • Webern Five pieces for String Quartet Op.5, Bagatelles, Op.9
  • Dutilleux - Ansi la nuit (String Quartet)
  • Ligeti - String Quartet No 1 & 2
  • Lutoslawski – String Quartet
  • Penderecki – String Quartets No 1 & 2
  • Maconchy (especially No 8)
  • LeFanu – String Quartet No.2
  • Kurtag – 12 Micro-interludes, String Quartet No1
  • Scelsi (especially No 5)

 

Suggested Reading List

  • Griffiths, Paul. The String Quartet, Bath: Thames and Hudson, 1983
  • Stowell, Robin ed. The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003
  • Jarman, Douglas ed. The Twentieth Century String Quartet. Lancashire: Arc Publications, 2002 Cambridge
  • Clark, Caryl, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Haydn, Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 2005
  • Irving, John. Mozart: The ‘Hayden’ Quartets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998
  • Kerman, Joseph. The Beethoven Quartets. London: Oxford University Press, 1967
  • Winter, Robert and Robert Martin, eds. The Beethoven Quartet Companion. London: University of California Press, Ltd., 1994



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.