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Paper Guidelines

  • Papers need to be at least 600 words minimum and should follow the guidelines for all papers in the Written Assignments section of the syllabus. Your paper must be typed in a 10-12 point font, double-spaced with margins that are no more than 1 inch. Don’t forget to have a title.
  • Questions for a Concert

    What kinds of musical concerts are NOT acceptable for this paper?

    High school or other children’s performances/recitals, outdoor festival performances, any type of pop, rock, rap, Latin, country, or reggae, for example, are not appropriate for this paper. If you’re not sure about your choice, ask me.

    Print out and take with you so you can be thinking of the questions as you watch the show.

    1. Head your paper with your first and last name, a title, the name of the performance, the name of the theater or venue, and date you attended the performance.
    2. Program Notes – most performances have a printed program with printed notes. Read this before the performance begins and save it for reference when you write your paper. However, do not copy phrases or content from the printed program from your event, (except to answer question #3 below) or from any source you use for research.
    3. List the performers and/or the name of the group and the instruments included in the concert. List all the pieces that were played (see program notes for the concert), the name of the person who composed and/or arranged each piece, and the date each work was completed (if possible).


    The Turtle Island String Quartet includes Joe Bloe, first violin; Sarah Marah, second violin; Topsy Turvy, viola; S. Popping, cello.Their program:Still so Cheerful by Sarah Marah, composed in 2001Getting up Late by S. Popping, composed in 1998Saturday Night by Berry Berry, composed in 2004

    What to Write About:

    1. Below are some things you can write about, but the most important is the MUSIC. You don’t have to write about every piece on the program. Do write about how the sounds affected you, which voices, selections, or instruments touched you most, what you learned of interest about the composer(s), the performing group, and the compositions.
    2. Ambience – Every gathering of people has a feeling tone, a mood: This is the ambience. Notice the people as they come in, find their seats, see what kinds of clothes they are wearing. Look around the theater; notice the lighting in the room, the stage area. If you have some particular feeling about how you fit in, how you feel being a part of it you might make a comment in your paper.
    3. You will understand and appreciate a concert more, and write about it best if you do a little research. It’s easy to research on the Internet. Type in the name of the group and a list of websites will pop up. The same is true for many composers. If the pieces were written in another century find out what you can about the type of composition, something about the composer.
    4. Music is the most illusive art form. Like the dance, music happens in real-time: It’s gone as soon as you hear it, and impressions are difficult to recall. Program notes give you information that is helpful when you think back on a performance. Program notes give you information about the composers, the music, and in voice concerts you may have translations into English of the words in a song.
    5. Each composer had a concept, an idea, and chose specific instruments or voices (types of singers) because of the sounds they make. Listen to how the instruments and/or singers each have their own kind of tone. Typically men have deeper voices than women, but in opera the highest male voice (the tenor) has the same range as the highest female voice (the soprano). The difference in the way they sound is called tone, or, timbre.
    6. A voice or instrument may sound brilliant, have a warm luster, may be light or heavy, sweet or somber. Composers use the characteristics of voices and instruments to create a sound painting that disappears as soon as it is heard. What you left with are impressions.
    7. Stating the type of concert you attended is important.
      • Chamber music is for three to about twenty musicians.
      • A symphony orchestra will have from about 45-75 or so musicians.
      • Opera is a play set to music with acts, sets, costumes, music composed by one person and words (the libretto) composed by another.
      • Some contemporary music includes synthesizers, computers, and other technology.
      • A vocal concert may be one vocalist and a piano. The size of the group and the voices or instruments involved are things the composer chose in order to display whatever sound painting was in his/her mind.
      • Some groups mix styles and instruments, fusing different kinds of sounds and styles of music to take off in a new direction.
      • The music may be specific to one culture, such as Klezmer music. Find out about it before you write your paper. Before or after the concert do some research on the Internet or use your textbook to help you understand some things about the music.
    8. Generally, in a music concert, some pieces or performers stand out more than the others. Everyone likes to hear about a special or even spectacular performance. You can’t write about every detail of every piece and every performer, so choose what seems most noteworthy.
    9. Remember, the concert you attend must be a sit down concert where the audience faces the staging area and is silent during the performance. The more you know about the music, the composers, the musicians, the more your attention will be engaged during the performance. People fall asleep during performances because the sound painting is streaming by and they don’t know what to listen to, to listen for; thus, they zone out.
    10. Music is extremely important in human existence. It accompanies so much of life that it is a regular backdrop to our impressions of reality. It is very different to listen to a concert than it is to let it stream by as background. What makes the difference is in being informed about what you are hearing.
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