Musica Maestro! Music and Society in Modern Italy - ITAL5780

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


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.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

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

Reassessment methods

This module will be reassessed by 100% coursework.
• Reassessment Essay (3,000 words) – 100%

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

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 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;
2 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;
3 Apply concepts and principles derived from the analysis of musical products to achieve a critical understanding of Italian cultural history;
4 Demonstrate the ability of closely reading lyrics, of critically evaluating textual sources, and of analytically evaluating their limitations.
5 Demonstrate awareness of the importance of music in processes of inculturation, acculturation and dissemination of socio-political ideas;

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Analyse primary materials as appropriate, using the up-to-date theoretical frameworks and relating works to the relevant socio-historical context;
2 Carry out independent analysis and research on cultural products and present their findings in oral and written form;
3 Demonstrate critical thinking skills;
4 Undertake independent research in the library, using appropriate academic databases online.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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