MusB Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Music Performance Studies

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC30711
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit introduces students to representative scholarly research in the discipline of contemporary Music Performance Studies, particularly in the areas of historically informed performance, analysis and performance, and psychology of music performance. It involves analysing and critically evaluating source materials and material artefacts involved in creating artistic music performances, and gaining understanding of the various (quantitative, qualitative and practice-based/artistic) research methods employed in Music Performance Studies.

The course unit explores the art of music performance as a culturally-socially situated and thoroughly embodied creative practice, fostering a broad awareness of the multi-faceted components of the music performer’s art. Emphasis will be placed on making connections between embodied-artistic and scholarly knowledges about music performance.


If taking as free choice you need to have a pre-requisite in a relevant Level 2 Music course, or have the agreement of the Course Director.


  • To familiarize students with the current debates in Music Performance Studies
  • To develop critical skills in analysing and evaluating music performances and source materials related to creating music performances
  • To encourage and guide students in making connections between embodied-artistic and theoretical/historical knowledges about music performance


Week 1: Introduction to Performance Studies as an academic discipline

Week 2: Expressivity in music performance

Week 3: Historically informed performance & the authenticity debate

Week 4:  Early recordings and changing ideals of music performance

Week 5:  The body in performance

Week 6: Material cultures and music performance: instruments, scores, spaces

Week 7: Analysis and performance

Week 8: Performing identities, performance cultures and discourse

Week 9: Musical and social dynamics of music ensembles: The conductor and the orchestra

Week 10: Improvising and performing with technology

Week 11: Artistic research in music performance

Teaching and learning methods

 Lectures. Individual supervision to develop the written course project. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate awareness of the multiple dimensions and complexities of the art of music performance through
  • Understanding of the discursive possibilities for engaging with music performances as artists and scholars

Intellectual skills

  • Ability to discuss performance-related issues in a conceptually sophisticated manner
  • Ability to connect non-conceptual/embodied aspects of music making with theoretical perspectives on music performance
  • Ability to critique historical, pedagogical and psychological approaches to music performance

Practical skills

  • Develop increased awareness of the material and embodied components of music performance, and ability to engage with them closely
  • Develop increased sensitivity to the expressive potentials of musical sound and the physical bases
  • Develop a personal artistic, expressive voice in performance, and ability to communicate with audiences

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Good time management skills
  • Skills in self-motivation and self-management and decision-making
  • Critical self-awareness
  • Tracking personal development

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical and analytical skills, showing the ability to consider phenomena from multiple perspectives
Creative thinking, connecting phenomena in unexpected, unusual, creative ways.
Openness to new ideas, curiosity and enthusiasm to learn.

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative

Weighting (%)

Class Presentation on proposed project



Short Essay outlining project



Practice-based Essay




Feedback methods

  • Formative: Verbal feedback throughout the term and also during one-to-one supervisions 
  • Summative: Written feedback on completed coursework, prior to final submission

Recommended reading

Butt, John. (2002). Playing with History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cook, Nicholas. 2013. Beyond the Score: Music as Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dorottya Fabian, Renee Timmers & Emery Schubert (eds.). (2014). Expressiveness in Music Performance: Empirical Approaches Across Styles and Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Doğantan-Dack, Mine. (ed.) (2022). The Chamber Musician in the Twenty-First Century. Basel: MDPI

(Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute). Fully open-access. URL:


Doğantan-Dack, Mine. (ed.) (2015). Artistic Practice as Research in Music: Theory, Criticism, Practice. Aldershot: Ashgate.

McPherson, Gary. (2022). The Oxford Handbook of Music Performance. 2 volumes. Oxford: oxford University Press.

Rink, John. (2002). Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rink, John, Helena Gaunt, and Aaron Williamon (eds.). (2017). Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance. New York: Oxford University Press.

Williamon, Aaron. (ed.) (2004). Musical Excellence: Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 30.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 164

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mine Dogantan-Dack Unit coordinator

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