This essay is for music analysis, so…
Step one is Learn the piece.
this may seen obvious, but successful communication presumes that you have made the composition your own. this means hours of immersion in the score, recordings, live performances, and practicing. think about what interests you in the piece. What puzzles you about it? what does the piece seem to convey to you? you will need to approach the piece as a performer as well as from aural and visual study. Regardless of your own performance skills, a physical relationship to the piece through singing, playing, or both as well as multiple listenings is an essential prerequisite to being articulate about its formal and expressive features.
Step two is being to analyze
there is no single approach for every piece, and most pieces can be understood by numerous analytic methods. However, you should consider the following question about virtually any composition you choose.
1. What is form of the piece, or how do you describe its part and their relationships to each other?
2. What is melodic and harmonic language of the piece, and what tools best describe these?(Roman numerals? Pitch-class set theory? Scalar/modal?)
3.What is the temporal organization of the piece, from the smallest level of pulses and subdivisions to the larger motions of phrase and hyper-meter?
4. What is extraordinary, strange, unusual, or anomalous about the piece?, Or, What feature of the work drew you to examine this piece closely?
keep in mind that analysis involves detours and dead ends, just like your practicing can, and also that your final essay should not contain everything that you have learned, just as your various performance interpretations can never all be projected simultaneously; in other words, you must make choices. perhaps most important: analysis is more than merely slapping label on a piece of music. Analysis should articulate your most profound insights about the music’s organization and meaning through your interpretation of the facts.
step four: form a thesis
Nothing is less interesting to read than a chronological description of what happens within a piece. After you have analyze extensively, you will have a better idea about what is normative (i.e., aspect of the piece that are common to many other pieces) and what is unusual and special about the work under consideration. your knowledge of music theory and your experience of other repertoire play a central role here. For example the bass line C-G-C-G-C in a C-major piece will be ignored as a completely standard cadential pattern, but an extended passage in Eb minor in the same piece will stand out to you as significant and worth discussing. Insights on what such an unusual tonal area might mean are the types of ideas that will provide a conceptual framework for your essay. Such ideas, when developed as the organizing thesis in your paper, will draw the reader toward the most interesting and compelling musical features. Frequently, these issues are also the problematic elements of interpretation: an aspect of the piece that is puzzling to you will often lead you to an ideal topic for discussio, and such issues tend to be difficult in performance (because they are not clear).
Step five: Write
this is actually a misnomer; rather, this step involves organizing and presenting your findings. Successful presentation involves more than just writing coherent prose. Consider how diagrams, charts, or annotated musical examples can communicate your analysis more effectively and efficiently than prose, and then use words to highlight and augment what is already presented in graphic form. Technical terms are important for good writing; they can simplify the prose and keep your points succinct. Even so, it is important to know your audience: some terminology will be fine for a given reader or listener (such as your teacher) but inappropriate for others (as at a talk to a lay audience).
Organize and outline the essay before you start presenting your findings-this will prevent your analysis from turning into a meaningless hodgepodge of facts about the piece. Finally, cite the work of other scholars when appropriate. Just as you would not submit as your own an audition tape played by someone else, you may not quote or paraphrase other authors without acknowledging the ideas as belonging to them.
Step six: Revise Revise Revise
A musical performance does not spring fully formed from the head, voice, or fingers of performer, and neither does an analytic essay jump directly onto the page in its final form. reread your essay slowly, and aloud. You will hear problems in your writing that may not be as obvious when you see words on the page. Just like practicing, analysis and writing can sometimes feel unrewarding; all three actives are often best approached in short, intense sessions, because epiphanies or insights can and will occur when you least expect them. Further, try to read your prose objectively, putting yourself in the role of reader. As you read, make sure that every sentence is coherent and that it accurately expresses your ideas. Also determine whether the ideas follow one another logically. Revision may mean correcting factual mistakes, changing the placement of sentences or paragraphs within your essay, adding material to clarify the logical steps of your ideas, or many other sorts of changes. Revisions will always be necessary in order to guarantee that you are presenting your best ideas most efficiently.
Ultimately, writing essays will help you understand how a given piece works and, if you are to perform it, how you understanding affects your performance. Just as ongoing performance preparation creates a deeper bond between you and the music, so writing about music helps forge a deeper connection as well.
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