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Choosing the Music to Analyze

15 January, 2016 - 09:13
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Once the inquiry question has been identified, some careful thought should go into choosing music that is likely to help answer the question.

Note: Don't choose a project that is unnecessarily big! In order to answer your question, you may decide that you need to analyze an entire piece of music, but you may just need to study one or a few sections of a piece, or short sections of two or three pieces.

For example:

  • If you want to understand how the harmony makes a piece sound "sad," choose particularly sad-sounding pieces, or sections of a piece of music, and compare the harmony in these pieces or sections to other pieces or sections that do not sound sad.
  • If you want to understand how to write a classical-sounding modulation, choose one or two classical pieces, locate the sections that lead up to a change in key, and analyze those sections.

You may also want to choose at least one musical "counterexample" that you can compare with your chosen music. For example, if you want to know what it is that makes harmony sound "jazzy," you might want to compare sections from two jazzy pieces with one piece that does not sound jazzy to you, and look for the differences.