Instructional Tips

Tips on Writing a Music Analysis Essay

Studying in a specialty, one way or another, related to music, you need to be able not only to understand it, but also to be able to analyze it. Many entering the music faculty think: “we will listen to music and play the guitar all year round” and do not imagine what a surprise awaits them when they realize that studying to be a musician also means writing essays on musical works, analyzing certain timbres voices and more. At this stage, many may simply lose their inspiration due to an absolute lack of understanding of how to write all these papers about music. Fortunately, we want to help you with this and tell you all the secrets of writing musical analysis that we know ourselves.

Start by Defining a Piece of Music

A holistic analysis of the work helps to determine the links between the figurative meaning of the work and its structure and means. Here is the search for special features of the expressiveness of the work.

The analysis includes:

– clarification of the content, idea – the concept of the work, its educational role, contributes to the sensory knowledge of the artistic picture of the world;

– determination of the expressive means of the musical language, which contribute to the formation of the semantic content of the work, its intonation, compositional and thematic specifics.

If suddenly you have any difficulties, you can without a twinge of conscience turn to the essay writing site WriteMyEssayOnline. A team of highly qualified specialists will help you to ensure high-quality paper.

Define the Structure of your Analysis

Initially, analysis as a method of musical theoretical activity was focused exclusively on the technological component of the craft, and the content of the term was fully consistent with its etymology. Currently, talks aimed at breaking the whole into parts can still be found in educational practice, most often at the levels of pre-vocational and secondary vocational education: to determine the intervals (chords) in the sequence, divide the melody into phrases, etc. This approach is especially characteristic in the framework of the so-called auditory analysis in the training course “Solfeggio”. It is obvious that the formation of the skills of isolating, identifying, and differentiating individual elements is a necessary and indispensable condition for the ascent to an understanding of the integral system.

At the modern level of development of musicology, the analysis of a musical text is understood paradoxically: as a procedure aimed at synthesis. All types of analysis gravitate towards this, but the degree of this attraction depends on the purpose of the study. Musicologists consider the following options: analysis as a practical aesthetics, analysis-description, holistic or complex analysis of a piece of music, H. Schenker’s reduction method, “exact” methods of analysis.

Make a Plan

It is important to draw up an analysis plan, indicating in it the necessary concepts and aspects for an objective characterization (this applies to both amateurs and students, from whom a professional analysis is required). Do not try to make a comparative analysis if you are not guided by the trends and features of the music of a certain period, otherwise, you risk being caught with ridiculous mistakes. It is rather difficult for first-year students of music educational institutions to write a complete analysis; it is desirable to pay more attention to the easier components of the analysis.

Determine the functions of the parts of the musical form

Each part has a specific function in the form. 

There are six main functions:

1) introductory (introduction to the main form or any part of it);

2) expositional (presentation, i.e. initial presentation of the topic);

3) binder (the link between any of the main parts of the form);

4) middle (a construction located between two other, more often similar in content parts, developing the previous material; development is an important special case of the middle);

5) reprise (repeating the topic after a new section);

6) final (the final construction to the main form or its part, following after the end of the main form or its part; in the first case, if the construction is significant enough, it is called a coda, in the second – only an addition).

Determine the Motive of the Piece of Music

A motive is the smallest part of a topic that can remind of it, existing separately from the topic. Along with the motives in the topic, you can find elements that do not have the property of reminding the topic, but structurally comparable to the motive. These are the so-called unmotivated formations. It is extremely important to include the motive in the analysis since without it the topic will not be completely clear.

Summing up

The analysis of musical works is a path to the knowledge of music, the identification of typical patterns underlying various musical structures, and their understanding. “Analysis of musical works” is one of the most important and difficult disciplines of the musical-theoretical cycle. The analysis course summarizes the knowledge gained in the process of studying the previous disciplines: music theory, harmony, musical literature, each of which is aimed at studying the art of music from a certain angle of view. In the course of elementary theory, the first information is given about the elements of musical speech (melody, rhythm, mode, etc.), in the course of harmony – the harmonic language of music (chords, voice leading, etc.) is studied. So, one way or another, you will have to write an analysis of musical works, and how well you do it depends only on you and on how much you listen to our advice, of course.

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