Tags: How To Pitch A Business PlanAd Hoc Network ThesisTechnology Today EssayWriting Literature Review For DissertationEssay On Social CrimesSports Studies Gcse Coursework
You should aim to make an argument about the song in question, using both text and music to support your claims. Does the composer set it in an unusual way for the genre?Does the music seem to fit with the general meaning of the text, or does it seem to be at odds with it?How do the music and text (a song’s lyrics, an opera’s libretto) work together? Does it have some type of pattern or other play with words? For more on word play and rhyme schemes, see our handout on poetry explications.
This usually requires research, whether on the composer, the original performance, or the historical meaning.
Sometimes you will be asked to relate the music itself to its historical setting.
This handout features common types of music assignments and offers strategies and resources for writing them.
Elvis Costello once famously remarked that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” While he may have been overstating the case, it is often difficult to translate the non-verbal sounds that you experience when you listen to music into words. ) How your description of music becomes an analysis of music depends on the kind of assignment you are answering.
Generally these include casual value judgments such as “good,” “bad,” “lame,” “awesome,” “girly,” “soulful,” etc.
These words may be fine when discussing an album with your friends, but they are not acceptable descriptors in academic writing.
In its most basic form, this is a statement about the piece with evidence that persuades your reader to agree with your argument. As you can see, making an argument in music involves historical or cultural evidence AND specific observations about the piece itself which combine to give a richly textured picture of the music and the composer, as well as the context from which they both emerged.
Clearly presenting your overall argument will help you organize your information around that main point. For example, if you are writing about the historical importance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, you might develop an argument like this: If this is your argument, then you should research what the audience expectations for a symphony might have been in 1824 based on other pieces of the time. Even when making evaluative or interpretive claims about music, you should always provide evidence to support your claims.
For example, instead of saying “The chorus of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit” sounds angrier than the verses,’ you might argue that, “The added distortion in the guitar, increase in volume, and additional strain on Kurt Cobain’s voice give the chorus of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ an angrier or more critical tone than the verses.” On occasion, or in some assignments, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of technical vocabulary used to describe even the simplest musical gestures.
Over the past thousand years, the study of music (particularly Western classical music) has acquired a host of specialized terms from Latin, Italian, German, and French, many of which remain untranslated in common usage. If you have questions about these terms, ask your instructor or consult a reliable music dictionary.