BA Music and Drama

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Tonality: Motive and Meaning

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC10022
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This is an analytical course principally concerned with nineteenth-century chamber and vocal music. It examines aspects of form, harmony, motivic working and text-setting with a view to developing students' abilities to understand and write about complex musical works. The course also aims to expand the student’s understanding of some theoretical models commonly encountered in Western art music of this period (c.1800–1860).

In this way, it builds on the foundations laid in ‘Tonality: Form and Function’ in the first semester, and aims to increase the student’s understanding of the language, structure, and expressive content of nineteenth-century tonal music, and so to enhance his/her response to it as a listener/analyst, and as a performer.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Tonality: Form and Function MUSC10011 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Free choice (UG), but note a pre-requisite of MUSC10011


This unit aims:

  • to increase the student's understanding of the language, structure and expressive content of nineteenth-century tonal music;
  • to improve students music-analytical skills;
  • to give students the fundamental tools to undertake their own analysis;
  • to familiarise students with analytical techniques for analysing Western tonal music;
  • to prepare students for undertaking level 2 and 3 analytical courses.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • understand the harmonic, thematic, and formal structure of tonal music;
  • demonstrate knowledge of various music-analytical methods appropriate for tonal repertoire of both instrumental and vocal genres;
  • show how stylistically sensitive analytical and interpretative techniques and strategies can be applied to selected compsotions.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate increased knowledge of a range of nineteenth-century repertoires;
  • analyse a range of Western score-based music using accepted models;
  • comprehend theoretical nomenclature and assess its relevance;
  • apply theoretical approaches to a specific musical composition or extract;
  • construct analyses of short tonal works.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • annotate a musical score with relevant analytical symbols;
  • demonstrate their ability to employ specialist terminology and musical notation to analyse a given work;
  • write a piece of analytical prose.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate enhanced analytical skills;
  • demonstrate aesthetic awareness;
  • employ technical vocabulary for analytic and descriptive purposes;
  • exhibit attention to detail.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analysing repertoire, texts and other materials
Group/team working
Team work (collaborating with peers in workshops);
Project management
Time management skills (preparing for exam throughout the semester);
Oral communication
Oral skills (seminar discussion);
Problem solving
Creative problem solving (fulfilling set task with set resources for the workshops).
Interpersonal skills (working productively with other students, tutors, and lecturers);

Assessment methods

EXAM 100%

Feedback methods

  • Oral feedback on tasks given in workshops;
  • Peer feedback in workshops;
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Recommended reading

Cohn, Richard L., ‘“As Wonderful as Star Clusters”: Instruments for Gazing at Tonality in Schubert’,

              19th-Century Music, 22/iii (1999), pp. 213–32.

Hepokoski, James, and Warren Darcy, Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations  

             in the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Hyland, Anne M., ‘Rhetorical Closure in the First Movement of Schubert’s String Quartet in C major,

              D46: a Dialogue with Deformation’, Music Analysis, 28/i (2009), 111–142.

Kinderman, William, and Harald Krebs, eds., The Second Practice of Nineteenth-Century Tonality

               (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996).

Kopp, David, Chromatic Transformations in Nineteenth-century Music (Cambridge: Cambridge

               University Press, 2002).

Krebs, Harald, ‘Alternatives to Monotonality in Early Nineteenth-Century Music’, Journal of Music

               Theory, 25/i (1981), 1-16.

Rosen, Charles, The Romantic Generation (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1995).

Schmidt-Beste, Thomas, The Sonata. Cambridge Introductions to Music (Cambridge: Cambridge

                University Press, 2011).

Stein, Deborah, and Robert Spillman, Poetry into Song: Performance and Analysis of Lieder (Oxford:

                Oxford University Press, 1996).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Practical classes & workshops 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 83

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Anne Hyland Unit coordinator

Return to course details