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Unit of study_

MCGY3638: Harmony as Counterpoint

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Sydney

Composition and basso continuo manuals from the 17th and 18th centuries often describe music as the movement of parts, rather than progressions of chords. This approach focuses on voice leading primarily and harmony as its consequence, contrary to the theory of Rameau. Students will study different styles through the examination of relevant contemporary sources and put that knowledge into practice by emulating those styles in composition and performance. Offering a deep understanding of how Baroque and Classical composers conceived their music, this unit is intended to challenge the way that students listen to and play works within and outside of the canon.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MCGY3638
Academic unit Musicology
Credit points 6
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Lewis Cornwell,
Lecturer(s) Anthony Hamad,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation hurdle task In-class presentation or equivalent written paper
Oral presentation
60% Multiple weeks 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3
Creative assessment / demonstration Performance
Performance of a short work representative of the topic.
15% Multiple weeks 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Composition assignment
25% Multiple weeks 30-40 bars
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

  • In-class presentation or equivalent written paper: The content of the presentation or paper will be related to the current topic and should include analysis, theory, and demonstration.
  • Composition assignment: Students will compose a short work in a genre and style related to the current topic.
  • Performance: Students will perform in class a short work in a genre and style related to the current topic.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

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

Oral presentations will be assessed according to the following criteria:


  1. Shows evidence of broad research, taking into account a variety of sources
  2. Clear argument, supported by relevant reasons and evidence
  3. Shows evidence of critical thinking about the topic, including: 
  • Considers alternative views
  • Where appropriate, questions assumptions implicit in the literature
  • Draws meaningful connections between facts and / or concepts
  • Uses terminology accurately and appropriately


  1. Is clearly expressed
  2. Is interesting and engages other students
  3. Makes appropriate use of examples and presentation methods relevant to the material presented (e.g. presentation software, handouts, recordings where relevant)
  4. Covers the topic effectively in the available time

Composition assignments will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  1. Appropriate use of the harmonic vocabulary and contrapuntal techniques introduced in the current topic;
  2. Technical correctness in accord with the relevant style;
  3. Demonstrated awareness of aesthetic principles as discussed for the topic;
  4. Identification and imaginative use of less common or more advanced techniques presented in the topic.


The performance assessment is not an ordinary one; its purpose is to display how effective theoretical knowledge informs performance. Those performing, therefore, will be marked on a modified version of the standard performance criteria:

  1. The performance techniques employed effectively displayed the structure of the composition.
  2. The performance actively attempted to make a connection between theoretical and practical concepts.
  3. The performance was of a high quality, with clear signs of preparation.


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
Week 01 Monteverdi (part 1) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 02 Monteverdi (part 2) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 03 Georg Muffat and late 17th-century Salzburg (part 1) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 04 Georg Muffat and late 17th-century Salzburg (part 2) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 05 Georg Muffat and late 17th-century Salzburg (part 3) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 06 Vivaldi (part 1) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 07 Vivaldi (part 2) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 08 Vivaldi (part 3) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 11 Mozart and Michael Haydn (part 1) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 12 Mozart and Michael Haydn (part 2) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 13 Mozart and Michael Haydn (part 3) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

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

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

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. compose in a variety of styles using historically appropriate methods
  • LO2. gain a deeper appreciation of well and lesser-known earlier music by understanding it on its own terms
  • LO3. re-evaluate their understanding, perception and reception of works that are performed commonly
  • LO4. gain a basic understanding of 17th and 18th century composition, a necessary skill for all orchestral musicians interested in historical notation
  • LO5. experience through study and performance how historical inquiry, analysis, performance and critical thinking are all necessary parts that are required for good musicianship
  • LO6. develop research skills in a relatively new field of musicological research
  • LO7. understand how analysis skills may be used in order to aid 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.

This is the first time this unit has been offered.

More information can be found on Canvas.


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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