How to Write a Good Music Essay

Music is an art form, a social practice, and a way of expressing emotions. From a folk song passed from one village to another in 13th century England to Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire or the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’, it can express any emotion from anger and sadness to joy and love. It can be played for entertainment, as accompaniment to a distinct art form such as theatre or silent and synchronized film, or as a religious or ceremonial ritual.

Many people, from professional musicians to the general public, listen to music every day. In fact, studies show that listening to music activates the same parts of the brain as reading a poem or experiencing physical pleasure. Music can also be used to communicate cultural ideas, promote political change, and encourage community spirit.

The study of music has a vocabulary all its own: tempo, dynamics, rubato, inflection, articulation, tone color, vibrato and more. It is important to familiarize yourself with these terms before attempting to write an essay about a piece of music. This will allow you to better compare and contrast the different performances of a given work. To do so, first familiarize yourself with the basic work by listening to it on several platforms or instruments.

Once you are familiar with a work, try listening to different versions of it, both instrumental and vocal. Compare the different interpretations, focusing on the elements your professor asks you to analyze (e.g., tempo, rubato, inflection, etc). If you are asked to compare two different performances of the same work, make sure you have both on hand so that you can play them side by side.

If you are asked to write about a specific piece of music, it is helpful to know something about the history and culture associated with it. Including this information will allow you to connect your analysis of the music to its context in time and place, which will give the writing a deeper meaning.

For example, the rock genre of music was derived from Rhythm and Blues and the Blues; it evolved into Psychedelia and Art Rock; and it is now evolving into fusion rock. This is how genres are created, and it can be fun to explore the origins of your favorite songs!

It is important to remember that while practically anything in a composer’s life could affect their composition, it is the composer’s choices and their musical intentions which are most important when analyzing a piece of music. When examining a particular work, you should avoid over-analyzing the composer’s personal life and instead focus on how the work reflects or influences its culture and context. This will help your audience to understand and appreciate the piece. The same principle applies to other musical genres such as jazz, classical, and more.