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Music Analysis Essay: How to Write, Types

Music Book
Music Analysis Essay {Credit: Pixabay}

When writing a music analysis essay, it is vital that you carefully choose the song that you want to analyze. If you’re going to write an analysis of the chorus, doing so when you have never listened to the whole song will lead to many mistakes. While writing such an essay, you should be following several instructions that will guide you throughout your writing process. In this article, we describe perfect examples of writing an essay. The most challenging part of writing an essay will be new concepts you don’t know enough about in that area of study.

What is a Music Analysis Essay?

Music analysis is a form of writing that provides the listener or reader with detailed information, critiques, and opinions about various songs. This essay often includes musical elements, aesthetics, style, and genre. The major focus involves analyzing and evaluating the various features through different lenses and points of view periods.

What Should a Music Analysis Essay Include?

A music analysis essay should follow these five steps closely:

The first section should include a brief description of the work, including the composer, performers, and recording details.

  • Introductory Paragraph

Your analysis should start here, so open with a statement about what you’re listening for, and then describe what happens in your first listening (feel free to use some examples from your notes here). State your thesis or main idea, which you will develop in the body of the paper. Identify what kind of music you will be analyzing. This should be done by listening to the song and noting down important composers, performers, periods, instruments used, and other features. This step will help you focus on the main points of the piece.

  • Reflection

“Is this really how I feel?” Use this section to explain your findings in greater detail, clarify your thoughts if you’re still unsure. Describe the music in detail. If you have trouble identifying what kind of music it is, try looking at the discography or credits for some clues. The composer or performer might have included information about the piece itself. For example, Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” is an orchestral suite written for ballet. The composer’s style and how this piece fits into their overall body of work. 

  • The Form of Music

For example, is it a sonata, a symphony, or a concerto? Is it a simple song or an opera? In what key was it written? Identify the main components of the piece; make sure that you describe all parts of it. Do not neglect any instruments or sections of the orchestra because they are less audible than others. This section will analyze your topic by discussing instrumentation, melody, rhythm, harmony, form, and texture. You should also discuss how these elements come together to create meaning in your subject.

  • The Music Texture

Think about the arrangement of instruments in terms of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Is one instrument more prevalent than another? If so, why do you think that is? If not, why do you think that is? If there are no lyrics to the song/piece, describe the lyrics implied by the music and how effective. Describe the work in question, who wrote it, and when it was written. Give background information about that, including influences on the composer. 

  • Purpose

Give context for everything that comes after. Without background info, your reader won’t know what to make of your analysis and won’t be able to appreciate it as much. You should summarize your findings based on your analysis. You might also want to consider suggesting what listeners can take away from this piece or how it can serve as a welcome addition to their library.

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Types of Music Essays

Music essays are of two types: 

(1.) Analytical and (2.) Descriptive. So, you will have to select the type before writing a music essay. 

1. Analytical Music

Analytical music

Analytical Music is used particularly about classical music and has been used to describe jazz and Western popular music. It was an outgrowth of the change in attitude among composers and other musicians during the 19th century. There was increasing interest in understanding the structure of compositions and how they achieved their effects.

 

 

2. Descriptive Music

Descriptive music

Descriptive Music is what most programs on radio and TV use today. This type of music is written to represent scenes or actions taking place in a movie or on a TV show. The composer will write music to represent something like a car driving up to a house or someone walking into their office. It’s done with the idea that the listener will picture what’s happening on-screen just by listening.

 

There are no limitations on how this type of music can be used. It can be placed anywhere in the program; it can even be used between commercial breaks because it has been recorded without any words or vocals. The only limitation is that it must be timed perfectly with the action on-screen; otherwise, it doesn’t work. The composer has to know exactly how long each piece should be and when each piece should start, stop and fade out.

What Tools Do You Need To Write A Music Essay?

Tons of students ask us what tools they can use to write an essay, and we are always happy to help. Here are the basic tools that you will need:

  1. Writing Paper – This should be your first stop. We don’t care if it’s a notebook, a pad of paper, or even a napkin, but you need something to write on!
  2. Laptop – A laptop will help you organize your thoughts and put together a rough draft of your essay. The laptop also allows you to research the internet, which is essential since most research papers include outside sources.
  3. Dictionary –A dictionary will be important because you will want to find definitions for words not in the common vernacular. This is something that even native speakers do when they read books or articles written by experts in their field of study. It helps them understand what the author was trying to convey in their writing, and it gives them a better understanding of that subject.
  4. Computer – This is the single most significant tool for your music essay. It will be very hard for you to put together a great paper without one!
  5. Bookmark/Cue Cards – These will be used when you have to cite your sources in your paper and want to be able to find them quickly and easily.
  6. Headphones – You cannot listen to music while writing your paper, but headphones are very helpful for blocking out the surrounding noise to focus on your writing process.

Conclusion

Overall, writing a music analysis essay is a good way to learn more about a particular song and understand it on several levels. It also helps you become familiar with listening to and analyzing music, which can help you appreciate it more when you hear it.

Keep these tips in mind while writing music analysis essays, and you’re sure to get a good grade on your essay. These tips will help you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls many students fall into when writing music analysis essays. 

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