HUM101 Colorado State University Musical Performances Analysis Observation Journal 3 – Music/Dance – For this Observation Journal assignment, you will wri

HUM101 Colorado State University Musical Performances Analysis Observation Journal 3 – Music/Dance –

For this Observation Journal assignment, you will write about either music. Note that there are different criteria for each topic as described below, but the general instructions are the same.

General Instructions:

Just as with previous Observation Journal assignments, you need to make observations about the work you are describing. However, I will give you some specific things to write about this time. As before, you should write two substantial paragraphs: one in which you make your observations, applying the technical terminology; and a second in which you consider how the elements you observed affect our senses and understanding of the performance. Your writing must be typed in Times New Roman in a 12 point font, single spaced, Plagiarism free, one page in length, and where it references the text book on pages 129-131 the text book we are using in class is: PERCEIVING THE ARTS An Introduction to the Humanities Eleventh Edition By: DENNIS J. SPORRE.

Music instructions:

When you write about music, use this set of instructions:

Step 1:

Listen to all of the musical performances listed below, then choose one that you will write about for this assignment.

Karakurenai by Andy Akiho (Link to an external site below.)

“Lingus” by Snarky Puppy (link to an external site below)

Piano Trio, Movement 1, “Pale Yellow,” by Jennifer Higdon (link to an external site below)

Violin Concert, Movement 1 , by Samuel Barber (link to an external site below)

“Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n” from Kindertotenlieder by Gustav Mahler (Links to an external site.) (link to an external site below)

“Lyric for Strings” by George Walker (link to an external site below)

“Sabina” by Andrew Norman (Links to an external site.) (link to an external site below)

“Among Fireflies” by Elanie Lillios (Links to an external site.) (link to an external site below)

Step 2:

You should observe and comment on three musical elements, namely timbre, texture, and musical form. What to write:

Paragraph one:

a. Name the piece, composer, date of composition, and musicians featured in the performance (you may need to google a bit to figure some of this out)

b. Timbre – First describe the instrumentation of the piece. What ensemble (string quartet, symphony orchestra, etc.) is featured, if any? After identifying the instruments, then generally describe the overall timbre of the composition. Here you will need to be creative in your analysis as timbre is pretty much always subjective.

c. Texture – Texture generally refers to the ways that melody and harmony fit together. But perhaps a better way of understanding texture is in terms of the “thickness” or “thinness” of the music at any one point in time. When we write about texture, it’s most useful to think about changes in texture over the course of a piece of music. Describe the texture of the music in your chosen performance by thinking about how the composer varies (or doesn’t) the texture throughout the work. How and why does the composer do this?

d. Musical form – Musical form generally refers to the overall shape of a piece of music from beginning to end. We usually think about musical form in terms of sections (for example verse/chorus or, in the case of sonata form, exposition-development-recapitulation).

I have intentionally included some pieces that are difficult to define in terms of musical form. So, think carefully about what determines the sectionality of a piece of music. Music is really all about patterns of sameness and difference. Think about this idea in your example: What repeats, if anything? Are there patterned changes in timbre and texture? If there are lyrics, do the words repeat? Does the melody stay the same throughout or does it change from one part to another? Ask yourself these questions to help get at how the composer is thinking about the musical form of the piece.

If you can identify the musical form (see, for example, p. 129-131 in the textbook), do so then describe how you arrived at it. If you can’t identify the musical form (which is ok!), then simply describe the musical form as best you can in terms of the composer’s use of thematic material be it melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, timbral, or a combination of all these.

Paragraph two:

After doing this musical analysis, discuss how these elements “stimulate our senses.” In purely musical terms, what has the composer done to create the particular sound that you hear? And how do you perceive that sound in emotional terms? Think critically about the structure of the music and how the composer’s stylistic choices stir (or don’t stir) our emotions.

General Reminders:

You must demonstrate that you can apply the technical terminology that we are learning in class. Be sure to use this terminology appropriately and consistently in your writing.
DO NOT simply say things like “the colors make the viewer feel happy.” You have no way of knowing how something makes anyone feel. You can only comment on the use of specific techniques and their impact on the effect of the work.
Please note: Grammar and readability count. You may wish to visit the Writing Center for help preparing your journal.


In your writing, I will look for each of the following criteria. Each is worth one point, for a total of five points:

You use terminology clearly and accurately.
You say something substantive about each element as directed in the writing prompt.
You include all observations as described in the instructions.
You address how the indicated elements contribute to the overall meaning of the scene.
You write using Standard English, no slang, with a minimum of grammatical/stylistic problems.

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