MUS 202 music appreciation



Choose three questions to answer for this exam.  Your answer for each of them should be about 2 pages long, double-spaced; about 6 pages total.  Your overall objective in this exam is to demonstrate to me that you have listened to the music examples thoughtfully and have responded in a personal way.  Be specific about musical details.  This exam is not about whether you like the music or not.  You may email me your work or hand-in hard copy by                                                   .  


Notes on style and usage

Do not call any and every piece of music a “song.”  Only songs are songs; more general terms for musical works are “pieces” or “compositions.”


Just as poem titles are put in quotation marks (Ferlinghetti’s poem “Dog”) and the titles of longer works such as novels (Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow) are italicized (or underlined in the pre-computer days), song titles are in quotes (“I Will Survive”), CD titles are in italics (Dark Side of the Moon), and opera titles are in italics (The Marriage of Figaro).  Symphonies with generic titles (Symphony No. 5) are only capitalized; symphonies with specific titles get the italics treatment (Symphonie Fantastique).


Don’t use the word “simplistic” when you mean “simple.”


1.  Jazz -- Chose TWO of the examples described in the chapter on jazz.  Briefly discuss what each individual recording represents in the history of jazz.  In terms of musical characteristics, what traits does each recording have in common with jazz from other styles or periods? What traits does each have that distinguish it from other types of jazz?


2.  The relevance of form -- Briefly describe sonata form.  Compare your description with the 1st movement of one of the following:  Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 or Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, all of which are on the textbook CDs.  Be specific.  (Remember that in the textbook CD recording of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the development section and the recapitulation are repeated, in addition to the usual repeat of the exposition section.)  Compare sonata form to a song form, such as the blues, and evaluate these two claims:  [1] Consciously following the form makes listening to a piece more meaningful; in fact, the process of the form is the primary meaning of the piece.  [2] Consciously following the form of a piece is not at all necessary.  Support your arguments, especially with personal observations of your own listening to the examples.


3.  Program music and process music -- Listen carefully to the “Moldau” by Smetana on the textbook CD, following the outline of the Listening Activity, and read the accompanying text.  Listen again to the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique movement on the textbook CD and read the accompanying text.  Does the story (or the image of a river) make the experience of listening to the music more interesting, enjoyable, or comprehensible?  Please be specific and mention musical details, particularly from the Smetana piece.  Compare the effect of the stories to knowledge about sonata form or the processes in Steve Reich’s music.  (Reich is discussed in the textbook, but this website is a better resource — you can listen to his music.  The active link is also on the class website.)


4.  The performer’s role in classical music --  What is the performer’s role in classical music?  Compare the opening one minute of the performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on the textbook CD with the one conducted by Gustavo Dudamel (CD on reserve), the young conductor from Venezuela.  Just focusing on the first minute of the performances, there is plenty one can observe about the differences in the two performances.  Notice the overall tempo, the flexibility of the tempo or the amount that the tempo changes, notice the intonation, notices blend of the instruments, notice the different use of dynamics.  Based on your listening, concert attendance experience and examples given in lecture, how important are the performers’ choices in the performance of a piece of classical music?


5.  Stravinsky and listening strategies – In lecture, I contrasted two ways of listening, a model-based listening and a more “in-the-moment” sort of listening.  Model-based listening approaches include sonata form, song analysis, program music, and process music.  Where does Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (DVD on reserve) fit into this division?  Answer the question in the light of the fact that the piece was created following a story (the ballet storyline) yet is most often performed today as an orchestral piece without dance.  You may also attack the very premise of the question.  You may refer to the music of Tchaikovsky, his Symphony No. 4 (DVD on reserve) or the ballet music discussed in the textbook (textbook CD)). 


6.  Mozart -- What of Mozart's feelings about social issues and his personality can we detect in his instrumental music?  Read the textbook’s section on Mozart and listen to the Mozart selections on the textbook CD (Symphony No 25, first movement; Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1st and 3rd movements; and the variations for piano on 'Ah, vous dirais-je, Maman').  Comment on each piece of music.  How does each piece rate on the scale from ‘perfect realization of the expected pattern’ to challenging the audience, then and now?  Can you relate these pieces to information about Mozart’s life and personality (presented in lecture and in the textbook)?  Of these four examples, does one stand out as most or least appealing to you?


Plagiarism warning -- there are 6 questions on this exam and you are to choose three.  If one or more individuals choose the three same questions, those papers will be subject to extra scrutiny for signs of plagiarism.  Do your own work exclusively.  Your integrity is integral to who you are!  Plagiarism will result in an F for the final and the course, and will be reported to the college.  If you use reference materials such as books or the Internet, I will be impressed and pleased if you cite your sources.  If you do not cite your sources and I detect that you have used materials without proper acknowledgment, I will not be pleased, I will think less of your character, and your grade will suffer.  Wikipedia is of mixed quality when it comes to classical music -- it is not that the information is necessarily wrong, but I find that it is often inadequate, unbalanced (giving undue attention to trivial details and skipping key information) and poorly written.  Cross check it with the textbook or other sources. 


Each answer will be evaluated on its own.

32-33 pts = A+ = beautiful, expressive writing, interesting ideas

30-31 pts = A = clear expression of ideas, good choice of musical details

26-29 pts = B = some incorrect information, but generally clear thinking and writing

23-25 pts = C = some incorrect information, but an adequate response; it is clear that you actually listened to the music & thought about it; lacking specific musical details

20-22 pts = D = writing so unclear that it obscures what you are trying to express; significant misunderstanding of the material

15-19 pts = F = an attempt was made; no evidence that you listened to the music

0 pts = plagiarism


May 2008

David Meckler