Freya Jarman

It’s analysis, Jim, but not as we know it”: Teaching Analysis without Notation to a Class of Undergraduates with Radical Subject-Specific Diversity

The Music department at the University of Liverpool is unusual in its entrance requirements: it does not require any formal musical background for students of popular music subjects. Meanwhile, it is also home to students with high-level formal training in western classical music, who arrive expecting to make use of their competence in standard analytical methods. Both groups of students, and students whose skills are somewhere on the spectrum in between these extremes, sit alongside each other in a compulsory first year module called Music as Sound. The aim of this module is to develop students’ abilities to talk productively about musical detail in a wide range of musics (from various popular music genres, through Western classical music, to a variety of non-western musics, and avant-garde performance art). This paper reflects on the challenges of developing the module in ways that are meaningful to students with and without formal musical training, particularly because the module does not aim to provide musical theory where it is absent in students’ musical language; instead, it changes the very nature of the goal, by providing a new mode of analysis that challenges notationally competent students to think about analysis without traditional western scores, and also introduces analytical techniques to non-notationally literate students without recourse to the technical tools and language of western classical music. The module thereby encourages classically trained musicians to think about music precisely as sound, rather than as a musical score, while also enabling non-musical students to talk about musical detail in a truly meaningful way. Moreover, such an approach could, if widely-enough adopted, help close the gap in popular music scholarship between textual analysis and context-focused scholarship, as well as enabling scholars of classical music to write in ways more accessible to interdisciplinary audiences.