In this essay, we would like you to use music analysis to concentrate on a pair of pieces; at the same time,
we would like you to use analysis in the broader context of an argument.
Choose one of the pairs of musical examples listed below. Each of the pairs is related in some way--by style,
performer, or time period. Relying primarily on your analysis of musical sound, construct an argument that links
or contrasts them. The argument may be social or historical in nature (e.g., the nature of "blackness" as social
identity); it may relate to one of the readings (e.g., Boyer's "The Hot Bach" on Ellington); or it may expand
upon a few details of musical style that you choose. Regardless, your argument must relate directly to the
music you listen to. You may cite, as you wish, concepts from class (biography, style), but ultimately,
bring your argument to bear on the uniqueness of the individual examples.
Use your music analysis to describe short segments of each performance in detail, citing specific
examples with CD/mp3 timings. Be specific in your writing by using the musical vocabulary introduced
in class to articulate your points. (For a list of terms, see "Definitions" on the web site.)
All the examples are on the web site, and those marked with * are also on Ken Burns Jazz.
- *Dizzy Gillespie, "Salt Peanuts" and *Charlie Parker, "Ko-Ko"
- Duke Ellington, "Concerto for Cootie" and "Cotton Tail"
- *Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers, "Doodlin'" and Cannonball Adderley, "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
- Mingus, "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" and "Far Wells, Mill Valley"
- Miles Davis, "Bye Bye Blackbird" and *"So What"
- Ornette Coleman, "Lonely Woman" and "Song X Duo"
- *Dave Brubeck, "Take Five" and *Modern Jazz Quartet, "Django"
- "John Coltrane, "Giant Steps" and *"Acknowledgment"
A few disclaimers:
- This is not a research paper. You may cite articles from outside the class, but your argument should
be based primarily on your own observations and material presented in class.
- Do not base your argument directly on arguments or analysis presented in class or on the webpage.
You may use this information as a guide, but use your own ears and your own mind to find specific ideas
and musical moments that are interesting to you.
- Do not suggest in your argument that one kind of jazz is superior because it is compared to an
example that is inferior. All the music chosen in this class is of superior quality.
- Do not hinge your argument on the music's "greatness" or "brilliance." We are interested in
more detail and more nuance than that.
- Make sure that the ideas behind your argument are clearly stated, and that the relationship of
your argument to the pieces in question is clear.
- Be sure to use paragraphs effectively. Each paragraph should have a point, and should normally
not last long. A paper written in one or two long paragraphs suggests that the author does not know
yet what he/she thinks.
- Remember that in music analysis, it is very easy simply to follow a piece from beginning to end,
but all too often, such a description fails to make any kind of point at all. As before, students
who make their argument without analysis can expect to receive a lower grade (B as the best possible grade).
- If you cite a source--whether it's a page from the web site, an article in the reading, or some other
resource--be sure to put it in quotation marks and cite the source. Failure to do so can be considered
plagiarism, which is a serious offense against the Honor System.
- When citing the class web site, use in-text parenthetical notes, citing the particular Assignment.
For example: "According to DeVeaux ["Ellington"], the melody for 'Mood Indigo' came from Barney Bigard."
Your paper should have your name, your TA's name, and your discussion section (either the COD #
or the time/place).
These papers will be graded by your TAs in time for the submission of the final grades in mid-December.
They are perfectly willing to provide detailed comments, but they are also pressed for time.
Students who would like detailed comments should indicate this on the paper (e.g., "comments, please!").
Those students will then be responsible for picking up their papers at the beginning of the next semester.
3 to 5 pages, double-spaced.
The paper should be delivered to your TA's mailbox no later than Friday, 1 December.