How to Write a Musical Analysis
Things to consider when writing a musical analysis
First of all, describe the following elements of music::
- Describe the introduction?
- Does it move in leaps or steps?
- Is the melody legato (smooth) or staccato-like (short and detached)?
- Describe the approximate range – narrow or wide?
- Is it motivic or lyrical?
- Identify and describe sequences as ascending or descending, tonal or real.
- List other composition devices such as arpeggios, leaps, repeated notes, imitation?
- Name the key or tonal center, i.e. major, minor, modal, atonal or polytonal?
- Identify all keys used and how they related to each other – if at all?
- Identify chromatic chords, state where they occur and name them?
- Does it have treatment and resolution of dissonance, any unresolved dissonance?
- Specify the cadence points.
- Discuss the harmonic rhythm. Is it consistent or does it change?
- Name and explain the meter
- Do parts play the same rhythm or different rhythmic patterns?
- Describe any irregular meters and time changes?
- Identify and describe rhythmic contrasts or cross-rhythms.
- Are the note values all very similar or constantly changing?
- Is there a simple rhythmic pattern such as one note per beat, or is it more complex?
- Describe if and how rhythm develops – or is there a repeated rhythmic motive
- Name the instruments and voice types used?
- At what point do instruments/voices enter?
- Can you hear one or more solo instruments in the work?
- What role do the various instruments play? (Are they all playing the same thing or do some play thematic material and others an accompaniment role?)
- Describe how the sound is built up?
- Is the use of dynamics unexpected or logical?
- Explain how the dynamics and timbre contribute to the composer’s intention?
- Name and describe the predominant texture (polyphonic, homophonic, monophonic) or is it a mixture?
- Identify the texture as thick and heavy or thin and light. Describe any changes to texture.
- Describe the form of the piece. e.g. binary, ternary, rondo, theme and variation.
- Is it free flowing, episodic, through-composed or cyclical?