BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Aural Skills

Unit code MUSC10221
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? No


Listening is absolutely fundamental to musical activity of any kind, and this course develops a range of specific approaches to listening, and encompasses the widest possible range of repertoire. Much of the focus is on communicating clearly through a combination of diagrams and words what is heard in any given piece of music through the categories of melody, rhythm, harmony, form, texture and timbre. This approach is applicable any type of music, including Western classical and contemporary music, popular musics and music from around the world. Other areas covered include recognition of classical phrase structures, timbre recognition (encompassing a range of instrumental and vocal techniques), recognition of cadence types within Bach chorales, and short dictation exercises. 

The teaching is mostly workshop based, and the approaches developed here are designed to help your development as a practical musician, whether as a performer, conductor, musical director, teacher, composer, musicologist, analyst or a combination of these specialisms.


  • To enable students to develop and enhance their skills in critical listening and the translation of aural experiences into appropriate forms of notation or other types of written representation
  • To apply these skills appropriately and imaginatively to a range of different types of music, including Western art music, non-Western musics and popular musics
  • To consolidate and enhance their abilities in the aural analysis and identification of features of melody, rhythm, harmony, form, timbre and texture
  • To encourage them to relate their aural experiences as critical listeners to other aspects of practical musicianship, including performance, composition, conducting, musical direction, teaching, musicology and analysis

Learning outcomes

  • By the end of this course students should be able to:


Please see course outline.

Teaching and learning methods

 1x 1 hour introductory lecture & 11x 1 hour smaller-group workshops

Knowledge and understanding

·        Demonstrate an ability to assess critically music from a variety of traditions, including Western art music, non-Western musics and popular musics

·        Demonstrate an ability to identify specific musical information relating to melody, rhythm, harmony, form and texture

  • Be able to express an analytical understanding of this music using appropriate terminology and to structure their observations logically

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate ability to translate aural experiences into appropriate notation
  • Distinguish appropriately between musical parameters from a range of traditions, including art and popular, Western and non-Western musics

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate skills in the aural identification and analysis of specific musical information relating to melody, rhythm, harmony, form and texture
  • Show an ability to analyse aurally a range of musics and to communicate their understanding in appropriate notation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Apply skills in critical listening to other aspects of music-making, including performance, composition, conducting, musical direction, teaching, musicology or analysis
  • Demonstrate enhanced analytical skills in aural assessment of music
  • Show an aesthetic awareness of musics from a range of traditions across the world
  • Show flexibility and imagination in translating aural experiences into appropriate visual representations and in communicating these experiences using appropriate language
  • Demonstrate an ability to pay attention to detail

Employability skills

Show confidence in and familiarity with aural assessments of music from diverse traditions, including Western art music, non-Western and popular musics Demonstrate developing practical musical skills required within a range of musical professions, including performance, composition, conducting, musical direction, teaching, and musicology

Assessment methods

Assessment task


Weighting within unit

Practical examination of critical listening and transcription skills

 2 hours



Feedback methods

·        Oral feedback on non-assessed formative assignments in workshops and practical tutorials

·        Written feedback on practical examination(s)

  • Additional one-to-one feedback from course tutors (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

Bentley, Arnold, Aural Foundations of Music Reading, Novello, 1996.

Cargill, Simon, Michael Henson, and George Pratt, Aural Awareness: Principles and Practice, Oxford, 1998.

Cleland, Kent D., and Mary Dobrea-Grindahl, Developing Musicianship Through Aural Skills: A Holistic Approach to Sight Singing and Ear Training’, Routledge, 2010.

Karpinski, Gary S., Aural Skills Acquisition: The Development of Listening, Reading, and Performing Skills in College-Level Musicians, Oxford, 2000.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 1
Practical classes & workshops 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 88

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
RICHARD Whalley Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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