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Unit of study_

EMUS5600: Historical Performance Practice

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Sydney

This course examines historical performing practices up to the present day aiming to widen understanding of the extent to which musical notation and written evidence preserve the performing practices of past eras. The wealth of sound recordings from the turn of the twentieth century provides a window into the near past. Issues to explore include: sound production (vibrato, non-vibrato and portamento in the case of string and wind playing and singing), expressive keyboard techniques (manual asynchrony and arpeggiation), and more general issues such as tempo rubato, tempo modification, ornamentation, articulation, and phrasing. The course will introduce students to varying performance styles, some of which are no longer generally in fashion, increasing the palette of musical choices and solutions and increasing the dimensions of understanding of specific repertoire.

Unit details and rules

Unit code EMUS5600
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Neal Peres Da Costa,
Lecturer(s) Neal Peres Da Costa,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Recording emulation with presentation
Performance (recorded)
30% Formal exam period 5-10 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4
Presentation Conference-style paper or lecture/demonstration
Conference presentation: to be recorded and uploaded to youtube
30% Multiple weeks 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation Participation
Participation in seminar discussions
10% Ongoing Ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO2
Presentation Performance Workshop
Performative presentation of chosen repertoire
20% Week 12 10 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation Attendance
10% Weekly Ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO2

Assessment summary

  • Attendance (10%), participation in seminar discussions (10%) and performance workshop (20%): The expectation is that each student will present twice in the performance workshop during the semester. 
  • Recording emulation exercise with presentation (recorded) – 30%: You are asked here to choose a historical recording and emulate it using processes that will be discussed in class. The task then is to apply your knowledge and embodied experience to a piece of music not available in a historic recording. Emulations will be workshopped in class. You are asked to record both your emulation and the piece to which you apply your knowledge
  • Conference presentation (recorded) – 30%: This task requires you to think about a question in the area of performance practice that you find intriguing and to undertake research that provides perspectives that help understand the practice and answer the question(s). The presentation can be in the form of a lecture demonstration or other suitable format and can include powerpoint, live or recorded performance, and other relevant resources. You are asked to record your presentation and upload it to a YouTube channel. We will all have access to these recordings in advance of our mini conference at which there will be a chance to discuss the presentations and ask questions.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria are used for performance work in this unit of study:

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Comprehensive and outstanding technical control and musical integrity in relation to developmental expectations. Musical individuality consistently projected to create a persuasive personal representation of the work. Performance flair indicative of soloist standard. A mark of 95 or above indicates extraordinary technical virtuosity and musical artistry.


75 - 84

Excellent technical, musical and stylistic achievement. Consistently coherent and expressive performance. Some personal interpretation of the work suggesting soloist potential. 


65 - 74

Confident technique with evidence of solid musicality and some stylistic achievement. Occasional lapses indicative of unresolved technical, artistic and/or stylistic issues. Projects potential for further development.


50 - 64

Satisfactory level of preparation and musical engagement. Some inconsistencies in musicianship, style and/or technique. Musical imagination and overall performance sense developing though some insecurity in this area.


0 - 49

Unsatisfactory technical achievement and/or unsatisfactory level of musical and artistic engagement. Limitations may be of such a scale and consistency as to call into question the student’s future direction in the programme.

The following assessment criteria are used for written work in this unit of study:

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Demonstrates high level of initiative in research and reading; sophisticated critical analysis of evidence; high level engagement with theoretical issues, innovative use of reading/research material and impressive command of underlying debates and assumptions; properly documented and written with style, originality and precision.


75 - 84

Demonstrates initiative in research and wide, appropriate reading; complex understanding of question and ability to critically review material in relation to underlying assumptions and values; analyses material in relation to empirical and theoretical contexts; properly documented; clear, well-developed structure and argument with some signs of literary style.


65 - 74

Evidence of broader understanding than pass level; offers synthesis with some critical evaluation of material; coherent argument using a range of relevant evidence; some evidence of independent thought, good referencing. A high credit (70-74) shows some evidence of ability to problematise and think conceptually.


50 - 64

Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading/research; relevant material; tendency to descriptive summary rather than critical argument; makes a reasonable attempt to avoid paraphrasing; reasonably coherent structure; often has weaknesses in particular areas, especially in terms of narrow or underdeveloped treatment of question; acceptable documentation.


0 - 49

Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: Unacceptable paraphrasing; irrelevance of content; poor spelling; poor presentation; grammar or structure so sloppy it cannot be understood; failure to demonstrate understanding of content; insufficient or overlong word length.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
STUVAC Conference questions/discussion session Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 01 Historically Inspired Performance—old or new? 1. Introduction: performance practice concepts, evolving practices; period versus historical instruments and vocal qualities (timbre, pitch, temperament), pre-modern–modern–HIP, written sources, early recordings—a window into pre-modern style, recording emulation; 2. Getting to know each other and navigating the Canvas sites. Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 02 Before the change: 1. Experiencing pre-modern aesthetics through early recordings and emulation—tools, rules and techniques; 2. Performance workshop Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 03 Weapons of rhetorical performance 1: 1. Piano asynchrony and arpeggiation 2. Performance workshop Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Weapons of rhetorical performance 2: 1. Metrical rubato—changing note values and positions; 2. Tempo Modification; 3. Recording emulation check in Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 05 Weapons of rhetorical performance 3. 1. Portamento and Vibrato; 2. Bowing styles; 3. Performance workshop Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 06 Weapons of rhetorical performance 4. 1. Legato, non legato and slurs; 2. Staccato, portato, tenuto; 3. Dynamics, accents and accentuation; 4. Ornaments, ornamentation and improvisation; 5. Recording emulation check in Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 07 Performance Workshop Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 08 1. Ensemble Performance; 2. Urtexts and edited editions; 3. Recording emulation check in 6-7pm Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 11 1. The places and spaces of performance; 6. Performance workshop and recording emulation check in 6-7pm Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 12 Performance Workshop and Emulation check in Seminar (2 hr) LO2
Week 13 Conference questions/discussion session Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: Students are expected to attend a minimum of 90% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned. The Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned may determine that a student fails a unit of study because of inadequate attendance. Alternatively, at their discretion, they may set additional assessment items where attendance is lower than 90%.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings




Refer to 2023 Canvas site


Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. access and apply performing practice information in primary and secondary sources (including early recordings) to a wide range of repertoire
  • LO2. communicate ideas and research related to historical performance practice both in written, spoken and performative formats
  • LO3. use novel performance practice research methodolgies including recording emulation.
  • LO4. applying historical performance practice evidence in performance

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.


See Canvas Historical Performance Site 2023 for more detailed UoS information and for regular announcements.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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