Bachelor of Music - History of Music Year 1 Unit Outline

Unit of Study - History of Music

The following applies to Year One Bachelor of Music students.

Unit Outlines

Unit Name


Unit Code


Unit Duration

Year long unit over 4 terms

Year Level



An overview of all periods prior to 20th Century

Module Code


Year Coordinator

Dr Matthew Fields

Unit Coordinator

Dr Kerwyn Alley

Teaching Staff

Lecturer:  Leonie Wobking   
Sessionals: Greta Grybaitis, Mary Ann Needham, Dr Knoop, Robert Styles





Credit Points

2 per term; 8 per year
Course total = 24

Mode of Delivery

x Face to face
x Online
x Distance/independent learning (un-timetabled)
x Full-time
x Part-time
x External

Delivery/ Contact Hours

Lecture 1 hour
Tutorial n/a
Personal Study recommended - 2 hours


Bachelor of Music

Resource Requirements

  • Software
  • Computing resource requirements
  • Technical Help


Unit Aims

This unit aims to develop a strong knowledge of music development, significant dates, composers and written works, through history, social and cultural issues that influenced music and innovations of Medieval through to Baroque period.  Students will develop an awareness of the development of music from the beginnings of the historical creation and development of scales, modes, harmony, counterpoint, notation and varying styles that are influences in today’s music.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Understand cultural, social and technological changes that shaped and developed current trends in society from Medieval to Baroque periods of music history, including religious, political and philosophical influences.
  2. Display knowledge of the developments through the musical periods of Medieval, Renaissance to the Baroque period, including knowledge of the development and importance of musical contribution to early opera, music’s beginnings, creation of scales, early use of modes, notation, harmony and counterpoint and its use in music, ethnic influences and their importance to music.
  3. Research and synthesize literature relating to composers, musical works, and instrument development through the Medieval and Renaissance period.
  4. Critically analyse written works from relevant Renaissance composers and write effectively to enable a full awareness of music that contributes to preparation as a professional musician.

Teaching Outline

Year 1

Term One

Gregorian chant
Plainchant into Organum into Polyphony
Sacred and secular music
Vocal music opposed to instrumental music
Music from Medieval and Renaissance period
Composers of the period:

  • Hildegard von Bingen
  • Phillip de Vitry
  • Guilliame de Machaut
  • Francesco Landini
  • John Dunstable

Term Two

High Renaissance period with particular reference to musical instruments. 
Madrigal and ensemble and keyboard music during the late Renaissance.
Chronological history of notation and nomenclature. 
Modes and their use in both the past and the present. 
The meaning of counterpoint and its significance in music. 
Composers of the period:

  • Guillaume Dufay;
  • Johannes Ockegham;
  • Josquin Desprez;
  • Orlando de Lassus;
  • William Byrd;
  • Orlando Gibbons.   

Term Three

Oratorio and its emergence across Europe and the United States.
Composers of Opera in Europe. 
Music in the lead up to the Baroque period. 
Early development of the Concerto. 
The Chorale Prelude and Cantata beginning in the pre-baroque period. 
Composers of the period: 

    • Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina;
    • Claudio Monteverdi;
    • Jean Baptiste Lully;
    • Henry Purcell;
    • Alessandro Scarlatti.

Term Four

The Growth of Oratorio during the Baroque period
Contrast the works of Bach and Handel
The organ during the Baroque period
The Baroque orchestra and examples of various works
Various musical forms prominent in the late Baroque period
Composers of the period: 

  • Arcangelo Corelli;
  • Antonio Vivaldi;
  • George Philipp Telemann;
  • Johann Sebastian Bach;
  • George Frederick Handel.

Prescribed and recommended readings:

Required textbook(s)
Online textbooks and guidelines (Moodle)

  • AGME – History of music lecture book
  • AGME – Additional reference books
  • Additional lecture notes uploaded to MOODLE when required
  • Oxford Music Online, a subscription to Grove Music Online includes The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 2/e, The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, the new Grove Dictionary of Jazz 2/e, The Oxford Companion to Music and The Oxford Dictionary of Music 2/e, plus updated content bibliographies, specially-commissioned articles only available online, and new and revised entries from the forthcoming The Grove Dictionary of American Music.
  • JSTOR Journals and book subscriptions

Reference Materials
Online video is available to assist students with further study and appreciation of historical periods in music. Students can request videos on DVD’s which are given/posted to students in groups, upon completion of viewing students are required to return DVD’s and then they will be supplied the next group of DVD’s.

  • Classical Destinations
  • The Music of Man
  • Great Composers - Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Wagner etc.

Reading List

  • The Music of Man – Yehudi Menuhin and Curtis W. Davis
  • The Encyclopaedia of Classical Music – Peter Gammond
  • History of Western Music.  Grout.
  • A History of Musical Style.  Richard Crocker.
  • The Lives of the Great Composers.  Harold Schonberg.
  • The Form of Music.  William Coles.
  • Oxford Companion to Music.  P. Scholes
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music History by Michael Miller

Caroline Polk O’Meara. "Place." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Sep. 2014. <>.
John Spitzer and Neal Zaslaw. "Orchestra." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Sep. 2014. <>.
Stephen A. Marini. "Sacred music." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Sep. 2014. <>.
James G. Smith, et al. "Choral music." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Sep. 2014. <>.
Kenneth Levy, et al. "Plainchant." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Sep. 2014. <>.
Lewis Lockwood. "Renaissance." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Sep. 2014. <>.
Rodney H. Mill, et al. "Orchestral music." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Sep. 2014. <>.

Student assessment 

Assessment Type

When assessed

(% of total unit marks)

Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1
Type: Assignment
Word length: 2000
Topic: Medieval Period through to early Renaissance
Write a report demonstrating the developments, impacts and effects of the following on the early renaissance period:

  • Vitry’s notation in duple time
  • The new art form, the secular song, compared to sacred music of the time.
  • Progression of plainchant into the Organum and polyphony
  • Landini Italian Ars Nova

Term 1 Week 9


1, 2, 3, 4

Assessment 2
Type: Assignment
Word length: 2000
Topic: High to late Renaissance
Write an essay discussing the progression and comparison of history of notation and nomenclature, modes and counterpoint.  Explain their use in both the past and the present including instruments used and examples of composers.

Term 2
Week 9


1, 2, 3, 4

Assessment 3
Type: Assignment
Word length: 2000
Topic: Transition from Renaissance to Baroque Period
Students are to research the initial stages and development of the, Chorale, Prelude and Cantata.
Write an essay communicating the innovations of each style, structure, and necessary crucial components for example Western tonality, that have influenced these styles.  Include at least one of the prominent composers of this period and his sway. 

Term 3
Week 9


1, 2, 3, 4

Assessment 4
Type: Assignment
Word length: 2000
Topic: Baroque Period
Present a detailed essay discussing the works of Bach and Handel in the Baroque period.   Include comment on the various musical forms, the evolving harmony, contrapuntal styles and keyboard continuum.  
Evaluate the differences in contribution to the development of music between Bach and Handel.

Term 4
Week 9


1, 2, 3, 4


Graduate Attributes

Successfully completing this unit will contribute to the recognition of attainment of the following graduate attributes.

A. Research, critical thinking and inquiry

Learning Outcomes

A1. adjust knowledge to new circumstances to problem solve creatively and with imagination in public performance/professional practice


A2. research, analyse, evaluate, think critically, organize evidence clearly and logically in a range of circumstances, including written work, performance and professional practice

 3, 4

B. Knowledge and Skills


B1. knowledge of music technologies required in performance/professional practice


B2. advanced knowledge of music theory, aural, and performance/professional practice in either solo or group settings

1, 2,

C. Communication


C1. communicate effectively to a variety of audiences using oral,  written, audio and visual applications to extend learning, (including while directing ensemble groups, instrumental tutoring,  and other professional practice), and utilising  assessment, negotiation and understanding

3, 4

C2. ability to contribute to teams and resolve conflicts whilst supervising group tasks, performing or other professional practice


D. Independent Learning


D1. independent learning in a self-directed manner while being able to reflect on and evaluate work practices and performance to achieve goals


E. Creative and Professional Understanding


E1. demonstrate professional understanding and respect for standards of current music knowledge, pedagogy, performance/professional practice.

1, 2

E2. open to innovative concepts, procedures and philosophies in performance/professional practice and application of creativity.