Musica Maestro! Music and Society in Modern Italy - IT578

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 5 15 (7.5) DR A Marlow-Mann checkmark-circle


This module introduces students to key concepts in the analysis of musical products such as opera, traditional songs, pop and counter-culture songs. It also introduces students to the use of music in literature and film in Italy from mid-nineteenth century to the present. It does so by considering a selection of relevant cultural products from a variety of sources, such as nineteenth-century opera (e.g. Giuseppe Verdi; Giacomo Puccini), literature on music (e.g. Anna Banti's Lavinia Fuggita; Alessandro Baricco’s Novecento), 1960s 'cantautori’, Italian progressive rock bands and political impegno (e.g. Fabrizio De Andrè, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Area), soundtrack composers (e.g. Ennio Morricone), and contemporary singers (e.g. Simone Cristicchi, Caparezza, etc.). The module uses musical products as a point of access to understand Italian culture and history and analyses how these mirror, criticise and try to change Italian social, cultural and political beliefs. Special attention will be given to the textual and literary aspect of musical products, focusing on close readings of lyrics.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (1,000 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (2,000 words) - 60%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Banti, A. (1996). Lavinia Fuggita: Racconti. Milan: Mondadori.
Carter, T. (2015). Understanding Italian Opera. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cosi, C. and Ivaldi, F. (2011) Fabrizio De Andrè. Cantastorie tra parole e musica, Rome: Carocci.
Còveri, L. (1996). Parole in musica: lingua e poesia nella canzone d'autore italiana: saggi critici e antologia di testi di cantautori italiani. Novara: Interlinea.
Kalinak, K. (2010). Film Music: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fornari, F. (1984) Psicoanalisi della musica. Milan: Longanesi.
Morricone, E. and Miceli, S. (2013). Composing for the Cinema: The Theory and Praxis of Music in Film. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge of key aspects of Italian culture, history and society in relation to music as a cultural product, and the ways in which this has developed across the decades;
Demonstrate critical understanding of Italian society from the mid-nineteenth century to the present in relation to music as well as music production, dissemination, consumption, and representation;
Apply concepts and principles derived from the analysis of musical products to achieve a critical understanding of Italian cultural history;
Demonstrate the ability of closely reading lyrics, of critically evaluating textual sources, and of analytically evaluating their limitations.
Demonstrate awareness of the importance of music in processes of inculturation, acculturation and dissemination of socio-political ideas;


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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