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Music

Music is an enjoyable and creative subject which enables students to pursue their passion for the subject, while developing skills in performance, analysis and communication.
⌛️Last updated: Aug. 5, 2020, 10:21 a.m.

Application Resources

Here are some general resources related to Music. These should be a useful introduction, regardless of which Music-related course you’re interested in and where you might want to study it.

Books

Use these books to get thinking about the theory and history of music. Take notes as you read, then follow up anything that you find particularly interesting, confusing or controversial by googling or looking up the sources mentioned. This process is useful for preparing for life as a student, and developing your musical knowledge and thinking. It might even come in handy when you come to write your personal statement.

'Oxford History of Western Music' by Richard Taruskin. This is recommended by a lot of Music degree courses, as it provides a comprehensive introduction to some common themes, and is frequently referenced in other literature.

'The Cambridge Music Handbooks'. These provide accessible introductions to major musical works, written by the experts on each composer or genre.

Also, have a look at the ‘Very Short Introduction’ series:
Music, by Nicholas Cook
Ethnomusicology, by Timothy Rice
Film Music, by Kathryn Kalinak
Folk Music, by Mark Slobin
Early Music, by Professor Thomas Forrest Kelly
Psychology of Music, by Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

Articles

Short, accessible ways to engage with music criticism. Reviews of concerts, albums and composers are invaluable for developing your own understanding of how music is analysed, which could be referenced in your personal statement. If possible, try to find a concert online and watch it yourself, to see how your view differs from some critics! Alternatively, read multiple reviews of the same concert and explore how they differ. Remember, you are allowed (and encouraged!) to have your own opinions about music and concerts!

The Guardian 🔗 The Classical Music and Opera page of the Guardian’s website includes reviews of concerts and albums, as well as articles on musicians. There are even pretty comprehensive guides - including ‘A guide to contemporary classical music’ 🔗 🌟 and ‘Tim Ashley’s Introduction to Opera’ 🔗.

The Independent 🔗 This is the Classical Music page of the Independent’s website. It mostly has reviews of performances, but there are also articles on musicians and other musical news.

Listening recommendations

Obviously, preparing to study a Music degree can involve a lot more than reading! Listen to these while you’re up to something else - on a walk, doing the dishes - and pay attention to any ideas, or interesting parts of the music, that catch your ear. Keep a notebook handy and write these down, making connections with anything else you might have read or heard. This is useful for developing your music knowledge and helping you find new areas of interest.

Check out the ‘Composer Weekly’ playlist 🔗 🌟 on Spotify, which updates regularly and may introduce you to some new composers.

BBC Radio 3 podcasts 🔗 🌟 A variety of music-related podcasts (and not just focusing on classical music!) which are freely available and each have plenty of episodes to keep you entertained!
In particular, try:
‘This Classical Life’ with Jess Gillam
‘Composer of the Week’ presented by Donald Macleod
‘Sound of Cinema’
‘Music Planet: Roadtrip’
‘Sound of Dance’ with Katie Derham

Major orchestras often have social media channels, so take a look at the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, etc.

Videos

These YouTube channels are interesting and accessible - great introductions to different types of music and music theory. Again, take notes and follow up anything you find interesting. This will help you prepare for student life, and might open up a chance for further exploration - which could come in useful, again, when writing your personal statement, and informing your understanding of music (which would come across at interview).

Jacob Collier's YouTube channel 🔗 For some music theory with some pop and jazz emphasis, have a look at Jacob Collier’s YouTube channel, particularly his ‘Logic Session Breakdown’ playlist.

Adam Neely 🔗 🌟 Similarly, Adam Neely uploads informative and entertaining videos which are very accessible, so would strongly recommend.

Image credit: Gonville and Caius by Akil Hashmi