ASSIGNMENT THREE: SONG ANALYSIS Choose a song to explore and explain from a str

ASSIGNMENT THREE: SONG ANALYSIS
Choose a song to explore and explain from a structural and a social point of view. Working from a
recorded performance, try to describe the sonic structure of what you hear, and the many possible
meanings both internal and external for the singer, poet, songwriter, listener, and you. Pay special
attention to the affect and the greater social meanings of the music. In this assignment we closely
examine the fundamental attributes and features of human music taking the form of song. (“Song” here
implies vocalism, language, message, and often other structural features that we associate with
“music”.) For the purposes of this assignment, you may consider a song to be a kind of amplified speech.
Considering how and why this speech is amplified, by whom and for what listener, is the job of the
ethnomusicologist. Along with structural information, try to be open to the meanings in the song, the
feelings it provokes, and how these resonate inside you and others. Use care in selecting the musical
material. Because of the complexity of the task, students may wish to consider short and simple songs
recorded by you or someone you know. Familiarity with the performer will help you understand the
language, a short song will simplify your timeline, and with no musical accompaniment there is no need
to account for it. Recordings made on the computer or phone are perfect. However, you can choose
something more complex, like a track from a cd or a music video. There is no requirement that you be
the person who records the AV but doing so might have some analytic advantages. In an extended
written discussion (around five pages) present your feelings, observations, analysis, and conclusions
about the song with respect to its structural features and social significance, and especially how those
two features might be related. You may also write about the transcription or recording process, and how
your listening changed over the course of your work. As a class we want a description of Your song, but
we also want to know about songs in general, so you may also compare your song to others that might
be related. Students are encouraged to look closely at the words and the musical (tonal and rhythmic)
structure, and to use neumes, transcriptions, sketches and other visual material to help describe the
structures and meanings that they find. This extra visual material might include (but is not limited to)
timelines, transcriptions of the melody and lyric, chord structure, or phrase contours and structural
information about your song: the tone set, the meter or metric feeling, the song form, transliterations
and translations from the original language, instances of conjunct and disjunct motion, of syllabic and
melismatic lyric settings, of rhetorical and euphonic features of the lyric and instances of vocables
appearing. The more time and care spent on the song description the more considered and cogent your
comments will be. A good analysis might include: A timeline (in minutes and seconds), a transcription of
all the lyrics and vocal sounds, a phrase-by-phrase mapping of the melody contours and the form of the
piece, together with indications for entrances and changes in the accompaniment. It might also include
a mapping of metric stresses in the lyrics, together with other phonetic features such as rhymes, phrase
division and grammatical logic of the lyrics. Ideally, students will be able to account for conjunct and
disjunct motion in the melody, and for lyrics that are syllabically or melissmatically set. Most
appreciated will be efforts to context your song in a larger appreciation of songs in general. With your
essay and visual material, please turn in a recorded copy of your song, or an address where it can be
heard

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