Queen's University


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Instructor: Diana Gilchrist

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The history of Western art music from 1750 to the present. The course focuses on musical styles, genres, and composers, as well as historical and social contextual considerations. Open to BA MIN MUSC and non-MUSC concentrators only.

Available in Fall 2018.

EXCLUSION    No more than 3.0 units from MUSC 102/3.0; MUSC 203/3.0.

EXCLUSION    No more than 3.0 units from MUSC 102/3.0; MUSC 204/3.0.

Western Music from Napoleon to 9/11 gives students, with any or no musical background, the chance to explore the lives and music of some of the core ‘classical’ composers including Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Cage. Explorations will be framed within cultural and historical contexts and students will be encouraged to consider questions about how music functions in society and in their lives, especially in the context of our experiential learning opportunities. These will include attending world class performances in iconic venues, informed by an emphasis on issues of live performance, both production and reception.

Current areas of research, including music and emotion, will be introduced along with a fundamental musical vocabulary and key analytic concepts. Students will also engage in primary research and present their results in class.  NO PREVIOUS MUSICAL TRAINING is required - just a desire to engage intellectually and emotionally in exploring some powerful and challenging ‘classical’ music.


Learning outcomes

It is hoped that students will:

  • be stimulated to actively engage with the meaning of music in their lives.
  • develop an understanding and appreciation of Western Music within its changing cultural context, including issues such as nationalism.
  • critically assess the main genres as developed by leading exponents .
  • engage in a primary research project that will develop skills that can be used for the rest of their lives .
  • use their research results in a class presentation (and receive feedback on presentation skills).

It is hoped that the course will stimulate a life-long love and personal exploration of Western Music.


Experiential learning opportunities

Romeo & Juliet:

Prokofiev’s ballet at the Royal Opera House in London. This is an excellent opportunity to experience a live performance by a world-class ballet ensemble in a top international opera house, with the added benefit of a pre-performance talk which should provide us with insights into this particular interpretation. This ELO fits ideally into our study of music in both the Romantic and 20th century traditions; and our study of musical links with dance forms, of which ballet is a core genre.

Lecture-recital in the ballroom:

In week 3 we will be joined by a professional pianist who will give a lecture recital in the ballroom. Carson Becke is a young Canadian pianist who is currently pursuing a PhD at Oxford, where he also serves as the Assistant Music Director of St. Hilda’s College.

Orchestral concert:

Our final opportunity to engage with live performance will take place at the end of term when we attend A Classical Spectacular with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Philharmonia Choir. This provides an outstanding opportunity to hear several pieces of music we will have studied and also to examine issues arising from the live performance context including: the impact of visual stimuli on aural perception and appreciation; differences between the experience of live and recorded music; audience participation; and music’s social and political functionality. The Royal Albert Hall is an iconic venue and the home to a series of “greatest hits” orchestral concerts by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The program includes a laser light show and we will be seated above the stage, affording an excellent view of the conductor and musicians which will facilitate a greater understanding of musicians at work in a live performance. Composers represented on the program will include: Handel, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Strauss, Orff and Elgar. The format of the concerts will also allow us to gain first-hand experience in issues surrounding Nationalism in Music which we will have studied in an academic context earlier in the term.



Experiential Learning Opportunity Report 1 (10%)

A report on the Royal Ballet’s live performance of Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet: 800 words requiring background preparation and a performance review with at least two academic references and two journalistic reviews; references cited in APA format.

Experiential Learning Opportunity Report 2 (20%)

A report on the  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Classical Spectacular: 1500 words requiring background preparation, a comparison of live and recorded musical examples and a performance review with at least four academic references; references cited in APA format.

Student Presentation (20%)

Week 8 (the beginning of November)

A Power Point (or equivalent) presentation lasting 8 - 9 minutes. Students will choose a short piece which may be analysed using one of several approaches, including traditional approaches such harmonic/structural analysis and non-traditional approaches such as creating a narrative or video that express a personal interpretation of the piece. The presentation should be accompanied by a one page outline with a second page of references in APA citation style. The outline may be in bullet point form or it may be in the form of a mind map. In addition to the outline you may include hard copies of any score analysis or links to digital examples you choose to explore. Please email me your outline with references prior to the class in which you are submitting and/or give me a hard copy on the day of your presentation before you begin.

Listening Journal and Primary Research Project (40%)

Each week there will be a listening assignment which should take between 30 and 45 minutes. In week 3 a Primary Research Project will be assigned. Students will start this project in pairs or small groups which may continue throughout the term if they wish. They will choose a single song from an assigned song cycle to research in depth from multiple perspectives. They will chart their developing responses to the piece over the term in their Listening Journals. During the last class, each student will do a summative write-up, as well as an independent comparative listening analysis of their chosen song, before submitting their Listening Journals in lieu of a final exam.

Please see Moodle for full details on each of these assignments.

Participation (10%)

Participation is assessed on the basis of active engagement, beginning in Week 2


MUSC 203, MUSC 204.

Bader International Study Centre
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
United Kingdom, BN27 1RN
Phone: +44 1323 834444
Fax: +44 1323 834499
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Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment
Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2218
Fax: (613) 533-6810
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