TOPIC: Listening Report

IN GENERAL: This paper gives you the chance to apply the class listening approaches to music of your own choosing. I hope that it will bring you even more pleasure and depth of experience to some music that you may think you already know.


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I. Music Selection: An important stage! The choice of music is indeed up to you but it must be music that will give you the chance to listen to it and describe it, using the listening approaches we’ve employed in class. Additional parameters: 1) Suggested length of music: about 12-20 minutes; 2) You cannot write on any selection for which our textbook has a listening guide (you can write on similar works or works by the same composers; 3) The music can be contemporary and it can have lyrics. However, this Listening Report must focus on what is going on in the music (including the use of musical elements in whatever is sung by the singer(s). Finally, you may choose to make the music selected in your short listening paragraph in Mod 3 a part of this longer listening paper. If the piece you selected in Mod 3 does not meet the length requirement of 12-20 minutes, then find enough music from that artist to meet that requirement. If you choose to use the song or piece from the earlier paragraph, this longer paper will give you a chance to build onto the work you’ve already done.
II. The Listening Process: Listen repeatedly and take plenty of notes. The more notes that you have in front of you, the more you will be able to narrow down to what’s most interesting. Remember as you’re collecting notes, that you will have to produce a paper that focuses on the most interesting aspects only. Remember to consider several of the elements and how they work together to create a defining mode or a musical high point.
III. The Write-Up: And now you turn notes into a polished-paper. Make sure that you identify the music clearly: title and musicians. You can set the stage a bit, but please no extended biography or interpretations of lyrics. Instead, use that all-important first paragraph to drop hints about your most interesting discoveries. The goal must always be to describe the music from a listener’s perspective: (your) perspective. Above all, please avoid the moment to moment to moment to moment ‘”play-by-play” commentary. (That’s as tedious and dull to read as that last sentence!) Your goal is always to focus and summarize so that a reader comes away with a memorable impression of the music.
Some suggestions for music: Epic-style soundtracks (plenty of contrasts, drama, variety, instruments); Pop music on a large scale (e.g., late Beatles studio albums, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin); 19th-c music with descriptive titles (1812 Overture, Scheherazade, Holst’s The Planets [but not all of them!]; grand-scale symphonies by Beethoven or after Beethoven (just write on 1-2 movements); ballets and ballet suites; opera selections; progressive or jam bands (make sure that you’re able to describe the music, though)

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