BA Music and Drama

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Ensemble Performance A (20 credits)

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC20621
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course provides specific opportunities for ensemble playing in particular idioms under the guidance of particular tutors. Although the focus is on playing together, students will also gain a practical and theoretical background to support their playing. Please note that in the event of Covid-related restrictions, content and assessment may need to be adapted. Students taking MUSC20621 take two of the following options:

  • Medieval Song (max. 20 students)
  • Contemporary / Experimental Music Ensemble (max. 20 students)
  • Jazz (max. 20 students)

Medieval Song

This option is mainly for singers, including those for whom voice is not their first study, but is also open to instrumentalists. You will be introduced to the repertoire in a weekly series of workshops exploring and trying out some of the oldest music in Europe, from chant to the 14th century. You will then form ensembles of no fewer than two singers and no more than seven, and eachensemble will prepare and rehearse a 20-minute recital, along with detailed programme notes on performance issues. Accompanying instruments may be used where appropriate. Your studies will culminate in an assessed performance. For 2022/23 this option will be taught by Barry Cooper and Katherine Rudge.

Contemporary / Experimental Music Ensemble

This option provides a series of workshops and coachings on performing contemporary and experimental music. Students will be allocated into smaller groups within the cohort, and will learn, rehearse and perform repertoire which may include works from the repertoire, graphic/text scores or experimental works involving improvisation, and student compositions for specific groupings. Your studies will culminate in an assessed performance. For 2022/23 this option will be taught by Richard Whalley and Gavin Osborn.


For this option, you will attend a series of workshops in which you will learn to perform in a large jazz ensemble, and will gain experience in repertoire, arrangement, rehearsal processes and improvisation. You will develop an understanding of phrasing and articulation that are appropriate to jazz performance. Your studies will culminate in an assessed performance. For 2022/23 this option will be taught by Alexander Gagatsis.


  • To expand upon skills already established in MUSC 10600 by confronting performance contexts involving collaboration with other musicians.
  • To facilitate the development of students’ creative imagination and skills of critical self-awareness when working in a collaborative performance context.
  • To learn about music from other cultures through performance.

Knowledge and understanding

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

  • Demonstrate increased understanding of how music works and the contexts in which it is performed.
  • Agree on an interpretation or arrangement with other performers, and apply an informed understanding of musical style and structure in order to realise that interpretation.

Intellectual skills

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

  • Show an enhanced ability to understand and apply analytical skills to music, and convey that understanding to other musicians.
  • Engage with other musicians in meaningful dialogue about music and its interpretation.  

Practical skills

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

•    Demonstrate enhanced performance abilities in the skill areas cultivated by the chosen sub-unit.
•    Respond to and collaborate with other musicians whilst performing.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

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

  • Demonstrate enhanced skills in problem-solving, interpersonal communication, rehearsal techniques and the practical application of analytical and interpretative insights. 
  • Demonstrate the confidence and interpersonal skills to work effectively in groups, showing skills relating to teamwork, negotiation, decision-making and leadership.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Surveying repertoire, analysing and showing understanding of the repertoire you are performing;
Initiative in inventing a creative concept and putting it into motion, coming up with your own ideas, and not relying on your teacher to do the thinking for you;
Being responsible for overseeing a creative product from inception through to final performance;
Project management
Developing time-management skills, developing effective and efficient practising habits, setting and achieving goals, collaborating effectively with other musicians as appropriate
Self-awareness: knowing your strengths and skills and having the confidence to put these across through performance; Willingness to learn: being inquisitive about such issues as repertoire and performance practice, being enthusiastic and open to new ideas, making decisions, assessing progress and making changes if necessary.

Assessment methods

Group performance1   50%

Group Performance2   50%

Feedback methods

Workshops/coaching sessions; group discussion; individual discussion with tutor; reflection on informal performances; written feedback on final assessed performance.

Recommended reading

Each of the components in the course unit has its own reading and listening lists. The following titles provide overall support: 

Davies, Stephen, Musical Works and Performances: a Philosophical Exploration (Oxford, 2001).
Dunsby, Jonathan, Performing Music: Shared Concerns (Oxford, 1995).
Godlovitch, Stanley, Musical Performance: A Philosophical Study (London and New York, 2003).
Rink, John (ed.), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (Cambridge, 2002).
Rink, John (ed.), The Practice of Performance: Studies in Musical Interpretation (Cambridge, 2005).

More specific reading lists will be circulated within each option.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 178

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alexander Gagatsis Unit coordinator
Barry Cooper Unit coordinator
RICHARD Whalley Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Each option has its own schedule of workshops/coaching sessions and group rehearsals: see course outline for details.

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