For your final paper this semester, write a 2–3 page (12pt, Times New Roman, double-spaced)
analysis of a song (texted music). Your choice of song is nearly limitless: your favorite pop song
from 2020, a work of Western art music from the Middle Ages, an example of non-Western
(“world”) music from 1975, etc. The only music you may not choose for this assignment is any
piece that we have covered over the course of this semester, including music you may have already
discussed in a journal entry.
To complete the assignment, use the following guidelines:
1. Basic facts about the song itself
a. The title of the song
b. The artist or composer who recorded and/or wrote the piece
c. The date the piece was written/recorded/released
d. If part of a larger work (i.e., an album, a song-cycle, an opera) the name of the larger
2. Historical background (1-2 paragraphs)
a. Give basic biographical information about the artist or composer who wrote the
music (when/where they were born, how they became a musician, etc)
b. If available, give any relevant historical information about the context of the song. Is
the music “about” a particular moment in their life? Was it written in response to a
3. Text analysis
a. Give a basic description of what the artist is trying to convey through the lyrics of
b. If part of a longer, cohesive work (such as song cycle or opera), give context
4. A discussion of three of the following elements of music that we have covered this
semester, which include:
i. What instruments are used in this song/piece (don’t forget vocals!)
ii. Describe the timbre of the vocalist. If no vocalist, choose one prominent
instrument and describe its timbre.
iii. What texture does the piece use? Monophonic, polyphonic, or homophonic?
Does the texture change throughout the piece?
b. Form (covered in Unit 4)
i. Describe the overall structure of the piece (verse/chorus/refrain/bridge;
theme and variation form; ternary form; ABACAD; etc)
i. Select a single musical/lyrical phrase and describe the melody. Do the notes
move up or down? Step or leap? How wide is the range?
i. Is the song mostly in a major or a minor key? Hint: if the song is happy and
upbeat, it is usually major. If sad/angry/forlorn, usually minor. Does the
harmony change somewhere in the piece? If so, does that change coincide
with the lyrics?
i. What meter is the piece in? Duple, triple, quadruple, etc?
i. Describe the tempo, using the words we learned in class
i. Describe the dynamics as they change (or don’t change) throughout the piece
**You DO NOT need to discuss all of these elements but must choose at least 3! **
5. Concluding opinion
a. Tell me why you chose the piece that you chose. In other words, why do you like this song
Tag: analysis of a song
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