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Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music Search

Music Cog­ni­tion and Aur­al Skills

  • Year of study: Year 1, over one semester (spring).
  • Final assessment: Assessment from the course instructor.
  • Prerequisites: Admission to the Master of Music in Music Theory Programme.
  • Language of instruction: Norwegian or English.

Course description

The course investigates aural skills in relation to cognitive processes in which humans perceive, respond to, and create music. The course is designed to provide a basic introduction to music cognition and to enable the students to make artistic, scientific and pedagogical assessments in relation to aural skills and their pedagogy.

Learning objectives

On completion of this course, the student is expected to

  • possess knowledge of cognitive processes in music performance
  • be able to reflect critically on music cognition and its implications for learning and teaching music theory and aural skills
  • be able to articulate and discuss aural skills in relation to music performance
  • possess knowledge of relevant research in the field of music cognition


The course covers issues and methods relating to music cognition and aural skills:

  • Practical implications for aural skills, e.g. memorisation and practice strategies, musical skills such as improvisation and sight-reading and various approaches to aural skills.
  • Various forms of musicality.
  • The significance of music cognition to aural analysis.


The course is normally held in the second semester of the programme and primarily takes the form of seminars and literature study. There is normally a core reading list of 300–400 pages related to the seminars. The reading list will be made available at the start of the semester.

Course requirements

  1. Abstract: The student should write three abstracts which will serve as draft essays (see item 2 below). Each abstract should be 150–200 words long. The topics of the abstracts will be determined by the course instructor. Deadline: All three abstracts must be submitted by 15 March.
  2. Semester assignment: The student should write an essay on a given topic based on the reading list in the subject. The essay should be based on one of the abstracts described in course requirement 1. Duration: 2,000–3,000 words (parts of the written material may be analyses, transcriptions etc.). Deadline: The semester assignment must be submitted to the course instructor by 15 May.

Final assessment

The student will be judged on the basis of the learning objectives for the course. The assessment is expressed in the form of a pass/fail and is determined by the course coordinator on the basis of an overall evaluation of the learning outcomes achieved by the student during the course.

All course requirements must be met in order for the student to be given a final assessment.


The same rules apply to reassessments as to ordinary assessments.

Study component

Published: Apr 3, 2020 — Last updated: Sep 7, 2022