MUSA234-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

Contemporary Music

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


Exploring musical developments in the 20th century and beyond that help us understand the present-day musical world, focusing on concepts such as modernism and postmodernism and the links between social/economic and musical change.

In this course, we look at some landmark developments in western music in the 20th and 21st centuries, and relate them to a range of ideas and seeming oppositions such as traditional and avant-garde, high art, niche and popular, or modern and postmodern.  We look not only at musical styles like serialism or bebop, but also musical practices like the early music revival, and surrounding political, social or economic influences such as the impact on music of totalitarian regimes around WWII, or of technology since.  Although our focus will be largely on what is sometimes called ‘serious’ music, what music finds its way into this category, why it does, and whether it should, will be one of the ideas scrutinised through the course.

MUSA234/334 is one of a series of courses relating periods of music history to key themes with contemporary relevance.  The others are MUSA237/337 Music, Church and State, focusing on the relationship between music and institutions of patronage from the 12th to 18th centuries, and MUSA231/331 Music, Ideas and Revolution, relating these themes to developments from the French Revolution to the First World War.  In all these courses, including MUSA234/334, although we will sometimes refer to music theory and notation, it is possible to complete the course and achieve 100% in the assessments without prior knowledge of music theory.

Learning Outcomes

Students who pass this course will:
- Be familiar with selected trends, styles and techniques in western music in the 20th/21st centuries from the inter-war period onward.
- Be able to relate these developments to their economic, social, ideological, technological and/or cultural context, and to concepts such as modernism, postmodernism, tradition and counter-culture.
- Be familiar with methods, approaches and live issues in music historical research.
- Be able to use primary source documents relevant to musicological research.
- Possess skills in using library and information resources related to musicology, including library databases, bibliographic tools, scholarly editions, and electronic resources.
- Be able to demonstrate oral and written communication skills, including language appropriate for scholarly communication.
- Have a professional attitude to research and to the dissemination and public discussion of music history and culture.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 45 points


Timetable 2023

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 11:00 - 12:00 A8 Lecture Theatre
17 Jul - 27 Aug
11 Sep - 22 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 10:00 - 11:00 Rehua 101 Lectorial
17 Jul - 27 Aug
11 Sep - 22 Oct
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 11:00 - 12:00 F1 Lectorial
17 Jul - 27 Aug
11 Sep - 22 Oct

Course Coordinator

Jonathan Le Cocq


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Programme note assignment 25%
Research Essay 25%
Tutorial Contribution and reflective essay 20%
2 hour Examination 30%

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $916.00

International fee $4,488.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All MUSA234 Occurrences

  • MUSA234-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023