Department of Music

the university of hong kong

Courses 

All courses carry 6 credits unless otherwise specified. Prerequisites, if required, are stated in the course descriptions. In exceptional cases, these requirements may be waived. All major and other course selections are subject to the approval of the Head of the School of Humanities on the recommendation of the Department's Undergraduate Coordinator.

Level 1000 Courses

All Level 1000 courses are introductory courses and are normally taken in the first year.

  • MUSI1004      Introduction to musics of the world

This course introduces a range of musical traditions from around the world and examines them in their social, cultural, and historical contexts. The course explores music as both a reflection and creation of society, discusses issues raised by cross-cultural research, and provides a theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between music and culture. Formal lectures will be supplemented by in-class demonstrations and hands-on experience of selected musical styles.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI1018      Advanced music performance 1 (for students in their first year of study)

This one-year course provides students with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and perform in public. The coordinator offers the students advice in choosing repertoire, helps them plan their rehearsals and performances, and invites both local and overseas visitors to conduct two-hour masterclasses. The students offer two public recitals, one in the Autumn semester and one in the Spring; attend all masterclasses; write programme notes for their chosen pieces; and discuss their selection of works with the course coordinator. Repertoire changes every year and reflects the students' abilities as well as interests. Places in this course are limited and admission is by audition.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI1022      Performance study 1 (for students in their first year of study)

Students taking this course have to enrol in EITHER two ensembles OR one workshop and one ensemble offered by the Music Department over two semesters. Ensembles include the HKU Chamber Singers, HKU Early Music Ensemble, University Gamelan, and HKU Percussion Ensemble. Performance workshops include EITHER Vocal Workshop OR any instrument of the student's choice, as approved by the Music Department.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI1023     Materials and structures of music

This course develops students' conceptual and perceptual understanding of the basic materials and structures of music, including rhythm and meter, intervals and scales, modes and keys, as well as melody, harmony, and contrapuntal practices. The course integrates ear training with the analysis of a wide array of musical examples. Students completing this course are expected to have established a clear and solid understanding of the rudiments of music, and be able to make practical demonstrations of this knowledge. The course will serve as a thorough review of aural and theoretical skills necessary for those intending to major or minor in music. It is also available as an elective to students in other departments who seek a solid foundation in music fundamentals.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI1024     Jazz: history and appreciation

This course will examine jazz from its origins to the present and its relation to other forms of music, including blues, gospel, R&B, soul, etc. Different styles within the jazz genre will also be explored, including early jazz, swing, behop, cool jazz, hardbop, soul jazz, bossa nova, post-bop, and avante garde. Special attention will also be given to pivotal figures in the history of jazz, such as Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman. Representative and monumental instrumental and vocal recordings from the past one hundred years will also be explored. Class time will be spent listening to, analyzing, and discussing a wide variety of recorded jazz performances and watching jazz videos. Visiting artists may also be invited to perform in class and lecture on relevant topics.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

Level 2000 Courses

Except for the three introductory courses MUSI2010, MUSI2070, and MUSI2071, all Level 2000 courses are advanced courses. Introductory courses are normally taken within the second year. Advanced courses may be taken in either the second or third year or fourth, except MUSI2047 and MUSI2066, which are for students in their second year of study only.

MUSI2010      Music of China

This course presents the essential features of the music of China, its role in Chinese culture and history, and its position in world music. Subjects will include the qin and other musical instruments, theatrical genres such as kunqu, Peking opera and Cantonese opera, narrative songs such as Peking drum song, Suzhou tanci, and Cantonese nanyin, folk songs, and music in Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist rituals. The course aims not only to introduce students to traditional Chinese music, but also to explore the nature of Chinese culture through its musical practices. Important works of Chinese music will be introduced, as well as issues such as change/stasis, politics/aesthetics, theory/practice, literati/masses, professional/amateur, ritual/entertainment, home-grown/foreign-influenced, and Han/Minority. 
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2015      Popular music

This course covers a wide variety of popular musics ranging from the latest trends in the global market to locally produced music such as Cantopop. The course surveys the development of key genres of popular music, such as blues, country, rock and roll, hard rock, disco, heavy metal, techno, and rap. In addition, the course examines themes and concepts that can be applied to the serious study of popular musics beyond those discussed. These themes and concepts concern the ways in which popular music is defined, produced, disseminated, and consumed across the world. Students will learn the basic critical tools to examine popular music from a scholarly perspective.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2026      Fundamentals of music composition

This course seeks to provide understanding of various musical techniques through writing music. It covers topics in notation, instrumentation, melodic writing, harmonization, timbral control, expansion and refinement of raw materials, and structural design. The course comprises lectures, tutorials, individual supervision, and composer/performer workshops. Students are required to attend some concerts specified by the lecturer and to participate in the performance of their own works. Students are expected to submit their composition scores (sometimes parts as well) in professional presentation (i.e., using the appropriate paper size, photocopy formatting, binding, programme notes, performance instructions, page-turning considerations, good visibility, and legibility).
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2029      Chinese music history

This course introduces the history of China through an examination of selective source material including bells from the bronze period, the Book of Music attributed to Confucian philosophy, the earliest known musical notation of a composition from the 6th-century A.D., major encyclopaedic compilations of musical sources from the Song dynasty, and Mao Zedong's Talks at the Yan'an Conference on Literature and Art in 1942.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2044      Film music

What does music contribute to a fiction film? When is it used? And why is it there in the first place? Directors use music with an effect in mind and it is music's force in the "here and now" of the movie-going experience that we will try to describe. To do so, we will study films from various cinematic traditions through the various ways in which music functions within them as a powerful meaning-making element. Under the assumption that film is an audio-visual medium, we will examine individual works representative of different genres––musicals, horrors, dramas, comedies, and cartoons. Consideration will be given to the relationship between music and image as well as music and sound as they emerge from close readings of individual scenes. We will also look at how music is represented in the story world of the film, whether a character performs, listens to, or ignores it.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2047      Advanced music performance 2 (for students in their second year of study)

This one-year course provides students with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and perform in public. The coordinator offers the students advice in choosing repertoire, helps them plan their rehearsals and performances, and invites both local and overseas visitors to conduct two-hour masterclasses. The students offer two public recitals, one in the Autumn semester and one in the Spring; attend all masterclasses; write programme notes for their chosen pieces; and discuss their selection of works with the course coordinator. Repertoire changes every year and reflects the students' abilities as well as interests. Places in this course are limited and admission is by audition.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2054      The piano

The course is open to all students with either some experience with, or interest in, the piano. It offers an overview of the history of the piano through a montage of lectures that focus on the personalities that were involved with it, the repertories they either composed for or performed on it, and the social and cultural milieus that provided the context for its extraordinary rise as arguably the most important instrument in the history of Western classical music. Students will be given the opportunity to study the piano as a medium of musical exploration and expression, the occasion for the display of virtuosity, a staple of the 19th-century bourgeois home, and an object of almost maniacal veneration. The course will end with an overview of the dissemination of the piano in East Asia, with particular reference to the piano culture of Hong Kong.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2055      Chinese opera

This course starts with an exploration of the structural and theoretical aspects of Chinese Opera, including the classification of tune types, text setting, and performance practice. While examples are mostly drawn from kunqu, Peking opera, and Cantonese opera, other regional derivatives will also be introduced for comparison and analysis. The second half of this course comprises a series of reading and examination of representative operas and their performances, through which the interplay between Chinese opera and its religious, social, cultural, and political contexts is investigated.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2059      Music and the mind

This course considers music as a phenomenon of human behaviour and the human psyche, and examines issues concerning the relationship between music and the mind. We begin with an introduction to the psychoacoustical groundwork and auditory/musical perception, and move to issues in the cognitive psychology of music, such as how we represent the musical structure in the mind, and what roles expectation and memory play during the process of listening to music. Particular focus will be placed upon the psychological accounts of music-theoretical phenomena, such as consonance and dissonance, rhythm and meter, tonality, harmony, and voice-leading. Moreover, the significance of social and cultural contexts will be underlined, and ecological psychology of music and cross-cultural approaches to music perception will be introduced. The course will also touch upon more recent developments in the field of music psychology, including music and emotion, music performance, the social psychology of music, as well as neuro-scientific research.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2063      Opera

This course will chart the history of opera in the Western world in both its relationship to social and political history and that of other major musical and theatrical genres. Through the close reading of the genre, students will learn about opera as the art of singing, poetry, and stagecraft, and make their acquaintance with some of the remarkable protagonists of its history, be they singers or composers, poets or designers, impresarios or monarchs. Attention will also be placed on the strength and resilience of local, as opposed to national or continental, traditions, such as the ones that flourished in Rome and London in the 17th century, Naples in the 18th, or St. Petersburg in the 19th, to name a few. The course will also provide students with an appealing and vivid demonstration of the diversity of musical and literary traditions in Europe during the period between ca. 1600 and 1900. The course will end with a reflection on the current state of Western opera as performed and consumed in East Asia, with particular reference to China.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2066      Performance study 2 (for students in their second year of study)

Students taking this course have to enrol in EITHER two ensembles OR one workshop and one ensemble offered by the Music Department over two semesters. Ensembles include the HKU Chamber Singers, HKU Early Music Ensemble, University Gamelan, and HKU Percussion Ensemble. Performance workshops include EITHER Vocal Workshop OR any instrument of the student's choice, as approved by the Music Department.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2067      Introduction to electroacoustic music

This course is a hands-on introduction to the use of music technology and the creation of electroacoustic music. Topics covered include sound recording, digital audio mixing, music acoustics, synthesizer techniques, MIDI, MAX/MSP, interactive music making, score printing, and music databases. Students are required to do laboratory projects as well as attending lectures.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2068      University gamelan

This course focuses on the performance of gamelan. Students will participate in weekly workshops on the gamelan over two semesters and may also have the opportunity to participate in public performances.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2070     Fundamentals of tonal music

This course further explores tonal procedures, of which the fundamentals were introduced in MUSI1023 Materials and structures of music. It examines the tonal logic and the voice-leading principles of diatonic and basic chromatic harmonic practices. Simple formal structures such as binary, ternary, and sonata forms are explored. Students completing this course are expected to have attained a thorough understanding of tonal syntax in the context of diatonic and simple chromatic harmony and to be able to analyze music in simple forms.
Prerequisite: MUSI1023.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2071     Topics in Western music history I

The course examines selected topics in musical practices, works, and aesthetic ideas representative of the 20th and 21st centuries. Various musical styles as well as conceptual ideas behind the musical practices are examined. The course emphasises the socio-cultural context in which the music was created, performed, and consumed, as well as its relationship to the other art forms. The course is also designed to enhance students’ ability to think, read, and write in English within the discipline of music, and to teach them the fundamental processes involved in music research. By promoting foundational knowledge in music history, as well as basic research and writing skills, this course prepares students for other courses in the curriculum, such as MUSI2072 and MUSI2073. The focus of course content may vary from year to year.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2072     Topics in Western music history II

The course examines selected topics in musical practices, works, and aesthetic ideas representative of the 18th and 19th centuries. Various musical styles as well as conceptual ideas behind the musical practices are examined. The course emphasises the socio-cultural context in which the music was created, performed, and consumed, as well as its relationship to the other art forms. The course is designed to enhance students' ability to think, read, and write within the discipline of music, and to teach them the fundamental processes involved in music research. The focus of course content may vary from year to year.
Prerequisite: MUSI2071.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2073     Topics in Western music history III

The course examines selected topics in musical practices, works, and aesthetic ideas representative of the era before 1750. Various musical styles as well as conceptual ideas behind the musical practices are examined. The course emphasises the socio-cultural context in which the music was created, performed, and consumed, as well as its relationship to the other art forms. The course is designed to enhance students' ability to think, read, and write within the discipline of music, and to teach them the fundamental processes involved in music research. The focus of course content may vary from year to year.
Prerequisite: MUSI2071.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2074     Introduction to contrapuntal styles and techniques

This course examines the principles of linear structure and voice-leading through an intensive study of species counterpoint. Investigation of various contrapuntal skills are made through analytic and written exercises, with emphasis on writing for keyboard, voices, or instrumental combinations that can be performed in class.
Prerequisite: MUSI2070.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2076     Instrumentation and orchestration 1

This course provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of the range, timbre, and characteristics of string and woodwind instruments and the techniques of combining these instruments when writing for small orchestral forces. Timbral contrast, mixing, balance, doubling, and some aspects of psycho-acoustics will also be studied. The teaching materials will be derived from examples of classical and contemporary music, as well as film scores.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2077     Music and culture: an overseas field trip

This course focuses on the study of music and its cultural context during an overseas field trip. Students may study performance in a traditional setting or conduct an ethnographical study. Students will be required to produce a field-trip report after their return.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2079     Introduction to arts administration

This yearly course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of arts administration, with a supervised practicum element. Through discussions, interaction with guest speakers, and project-based internships, major topics to be explored include planning, development, marketing, artist relations, organizational structure, outreach, venue management, as well as issues and challenges commonly faced by arts administrators today.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI2080     Music analysis I

This course endeavours to develop students' understanding of tonal procedures in the melodic and harmonic construction of music during the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing in particular on the music of the Classical period. Students are expected to develop skills in music analysis, primarily through examining Schoenberg's ideas of motif, phrase, period, sentence, and developing variation, in order to understand the construction of tonal form. 
Prerequisite: MUSI2070.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

Level 3000 & 4000 Courses

Level 3000 and 4000 courses are all advanced courses. All Level 3000 courses can be taken in either the third or fourth year, except MUSI3019 and MUSI3021, which are for students in their third year of study only. All Level 4000 courses can only be taken in the fourth year.

MUSI3019      Advanced music performance 3 (for students in their third year of study)

This one-year course provides students with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and perform in public. The coordinator offers the students advice in choosing repertoire, helps them plan their rehearsals and performances, and invites both local and overseas visitors to conduct two-hour masterclasses. The students offer two public recitals, one in the Autumn semester and one in the Spring; attend all masterclasses; write programme notes for their chosen pieces; and discuss their selection of works with the course coordinator. Repertoire changes every year and reflects the students' abilities as well as interests. Places in this course are limited and admission is by audition.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3021      Performance study 3 (for students in their third year of study)

Students taking this course have to enrol in EITHER two ensembles OR one workshop and one ensemble offered by the Music Department over two semesters. Ensembles include the HKU Chamber Singers, HKU Early Music Ensemble, University Gamelan, and HKU Percussion Ensemble. Performance workshops include EITHER Vocal Workshop OR any instrument of the student's choice, as approved by the Music Department.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3022      Topics in Asian music history [capstone experience]

Selected topics in the history of Asian musical cultures will be examined.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3023      Composing for the concert world

This course encourages students to write music using 20th-century techniques. It introduces students to organising and manipulating various musical parameters such as pitch, rhythm, meter, texture, colour, form, etc. It also helps students to experiment with the incorporation of extra-musical inspiration and alternative aesthetics. The course is offered in alternate years with MUSI3024 Composing for the commercial world.
Prerequisite: MUSI2026.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3024      Composing for the commercial world

This course helps students to write music that works for a given practical application such as film music, theatre music, multimedia performances, radio/television commercials, web pages, New Age music, and popular songs. Students are required to work on topics that vary from year to year. The course is offered in alternate years with MUSI3023 Composing for the concert world.  
Prerequisite: MUSI2026.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3027      Instrumentation and orchestration 2

This course provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of the range, timbre, and characteristics of orchestral instruments, in particular, brass, percussion, and keyboards. It also covers the techniques of combining these instruments when writing for large orchestral forces. Timbral contrast, mixing, balance, doubling, and some aspects of psycho-acoustics will also be studied. The teaching materials will be derived from examples of classical and contemporary music, as well as film scores.
Prerequisite: MUSI2076.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3028      Red is the colour: music and politics in post-1949 China [capstone experience]

This course examines the relationship between music and politics in post-1949 China. It aims to provide students with a critical perspective on the complex role that politics has played in shaping contemporary Chinese musical culture. Major issues explored include music and national identity in modern China, the conflict between Western-style conservatories and Chinese traditional genres, music as propaganda under the Maoist regime, music of the Red Guards and Jiang Qing's model works during the Cultural Revolution, music in post-Mao China, and the politics of globalization since the 1990s. 
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3029      Music and scientific thoughts: past and present [capstone experience]

This course investigates the link between music and science in Western history. Music has been frequently associated with science, but the way the two realms have been interconnected with each other varies throughout history. In exploring each case of scientific thoughts on music in history, students are expected to obtain a contextual understanding of music and science as socio-cultural products and to gain insight into the interdisciplinary nature of the study of music.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3030      Tonal counterpoint [capstone experience]

This course investigates the contrapuntal styles of the 18th century with special reference to the works of J.S. Bach. Students are expected to develop a comprehensive understanding of the techniques and stylistic features of 18th-century counterpoint through score analysis and compositional projects. A substantial original work in 18th-century style is required as a final project.
Prerequisite: MUSI2074.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3031      Special study [capstone experience]

In this course, the student works on a one-to-one basis with a supervisor throughout the year. The project may be an extensive research paper or a composition portfolio. Students planning to take this course must demonstrate competence in the particular area in which they wish to work. Entry to this course is at the discretion of the Head of the School of Humanities on the recommendation of the Department's Undergraduate Coordinator.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3032      Special performance study [capstone experience]

Students taking this course have to enrol in EITHER two ensembles OR one workshop and one ensemble offered by the Music Department over two semesters. Ensembles include the HKU Chamber Singers, HKU Early Music Ensemble, University Gamelan, and HKU Percussion Ensemble. Performance workshops include EITHER Vocal Workshop OR any instrument of the student's choice, as approved by the Music Department. This course may be taken to fulfil the capstone requirement. Entry to the course is at the discretion of the Head of the School of Humanities on the recommendation of the Department's Undergraduate Coordinator.
Prerequisite: Completed at least one of MUSI1022, MUSI2066, or MUSI3021.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3033      Topics in Ethnomusicology [capstone experience]

This course is an introduction to the theories and methods of ethnomusicology, which is the study of music in its sociocultural context. Historically, ethnomusicologists have tended to focus on non-Western musical traditions, although more recent trends have opened the field to include any music culture, regardless of origin or place, including popular musics, Western art and contemporary musics, as well as folk and traditional music cultures. This course will provide an overview of the history of the discipline, as well as introduce students to the key themes and issues that have shaped ethnomusicology up to the present time. The focus of the course content may vary from year to year.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3034      The qin [capstone experience]

Redolent of the scholar, aristocrat, and literatus, the qin has a deep and distinguished lineage within the pantheon of Chinese musical traditions. This course is a survey of qin music from the late Bronze Age to the present times. Several themes are examined in detail: basic playing skills, semiotics of notation and the earliest known qin score, different styles and pivotal figures, representative works from the repertoire, typological analysis of historical instruments, and transmission and appropriation of the qin in East Asia. Readings from musicology, anthropology, archaeology, and art history introduce a variety of approaches to the interpretation of qin music.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3035      Music analysis II [capstone experience]

This course is an in-depth introduction to Schenkerian analysis. Through a series of assignments, students will learn voice-leading procedures and concepts of tonal coherence, as well as engage in critical and historical reflection on such theories.
Prerequisite: MUSI2070.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI3036      Chromaticism and post-tonal techniques

This course examines chromatic harmonies and larger forms in classical music, and is a continuation of MUSI2070. The later part of the course will focus on post-tonal techniques, using the pitch-class set theory and other methods to analyze contemporary music.
Prerequisite: MUSI2070.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI4001      Performance study 4 (for students in their fourth year of study)

Students taking this course have to enrol in EITHER two ensembles OR one workshop and one ensemble offered by the Music Department over two semesters. Ensembles include the HKU Chamber Singers, HKU Early Music Ensemble, University Gamelan, and HKU Percussion Ensemble. Performance workshops include EITHER Vocal Workshop OR any instrument of the student's choice, as approved by the Music Department.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI4002      Advanced music performance 4 (for students in their fourth year of study) [capstone experience]

This one-year course provides students with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and perform in public. The coordinator offers the students advice in choosing repertoire, helps them plan their rehearsals and performances, and invites both local and overseas visitors to conduct two-hour masterclasses. The students offer two public recitals, one in the Autumn semester and one in the Spring; attend all masterclasses; write programme notes for their chosen pieces; and discuss their selection of works with the course coordinator. Repertoire changes every year and reflects the students' abilities as well as interests. Places in this course are limited and admission is by audition.
Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSI4003      Dissertation [capstone experience]

This two-semester research course requires submission of a musicological dissertation or a substantial composition portfolio. Students wishing to take the course must contact their proposed supervisor(s) in advance to secure agreement for the project. It is recommended that this be done before the end of June. Entry to this course is at the discretion of the Head of the School of Humanities on the recommendation of the Department's Undergraduate Coordinator, and is contingent on the student providing a working title, plan, and bibliography no later than 1 September.
Prerequisite: MUSI3031 or supervisor's recommendation.
Assessment: 100% coursework.