MUS 202 Music Appreciation Final Project Options

Write a 5-6 page paper on a musical work OR write a three-page paper on a brief musical work and do a short class presentation on it.

The musical work may be of any style, era or genre. The recommended choice is a short work such as a song, but discussions of albums as if they were conceived of as large-scale musical works is a possible option. If you do a classical piece of music, a complete symphony or piano sonata is recommended. Please do not write biographies of favorite musicians or try to cover entire genres. "The History of Reggae" is a fascinating topic, but it is not appropriate for this assignment.

Your paper should be a mixture of close analysis, personal reaction and historical context. For example, if I chose the song "Eleanor Rigby," about 60% of my paper should be close analysis. The analysis should spend about equal time on lyrics and music, so 30% of my paper would be on the lyrics and 30% would discuss musical details. 20% or so should be my personal reaction to the song as to what I think it means, why I care and why I chose it for my project. The remaining 20% of my paper should be a few comments on the historical context of the music -- when it was written, its degree of popularity at the time and in subsequent years, and similar information. Be sure to explain why you feel that particular information is helpful or relevant to the experience of listening to the music.

Analysis starts with taking something apart. Listen to your example and try to concentrate on only one thing at a time timbre, rhythm, melody, etc. Then put the thing back together think about overall form and how individual components add to the overall meaning that you now find in the work.

These links may be helpful:

6 (or 7) Kinds of Meaning in Music


4 Types of Difficulties in the Arts


Song forms descriptions of common song forms to help you analyze your song project.

Text painting examples of the variety of relationships between words & music.

Notes on melody help in analyzing the melody of your song for your analysis project

Elements of music defined 

Meter and subdivision


Design in music



A+ = engaging, vivid, personal; a novel or surprising creative approach

A = well-organized and thorough; unique personal observations; a good mix of big ideas and supporting details

B = good content but not well-organized or with several incorrect uses of music terminology

C = too short; lacking in personal points of view; few details, few works named; many incorrect uses of music terminology

D = poor writing obscures whatever point you are trying to make; not internally consistent (self-contradictory) but at least some evidence that you did listen and think!

F = much better for your average than a zero.


May 2009

DC Meckler

MUS 202 music appreciation