4106 Seminar – Song Analysis Template:
Here are some of the questions I would like you to consider when analyzing songs for your second presentation in the seminar. Of course, please feel free to add to the analytical criteria. Also, feel free to analyze an instrumental piece, if you prefer. The criteria this time are that the piece can be any instrumentation or genre, but must have been written (created) in the last twenty years.
The presentations will be in the last two classes (Nov. 18 and 25). We will assign times on Tuesday. You must give us a link to or file of the piece you have chosen by Nov. 4. You must provide documentation of your presentation by Dec. 2.
Pitch and Harmony:
Is the piece in a key? Is it based on a mode or artificial scale? Is it Atonal?
Will conventional Harmonic Analysis help (“Classical” or “Jazz”)?
Is it based on regular rhythmic organization: riff, clave, tala, iqa’at (Arabic rhythmic mode), etc.?
Is the rhythm regular or does change in some systematic way (like phase pattern music)?
Is the song strophic or through-composed?
Does it conform to a familiar form: Blues, 32-bar AABA, Standard Pop. Song Form: Intro/Verse1/Chorus/Verse2/Chorus/Bridge or Middle 8/Verse3/Chorus3/Outro
Is there an intro? “outro”? vamp?
Is it improvised or played the same each time or some combination?
Is there an instrumental solo? If so, is it based on the form?
How does it differ from the paradigms? Was the composer “playing” with conventions?
Are the melodic motives based on the text?
Is it riff-based?
What cultural context is it from?
Can you pinpoint antecedents that may have influenced this song?
What is the “purpose” of the song? ceremony? dancing? communicate a message? support the narrative in a film, opera, or play?
Poetic Analysis of Text: Is the text descriptive in a conventional way or is it full of allusions, metaphors, irony or other poetic devices? Is it representative of or reminiscent of a poetic style: Haiku, Sonnet, Stream of Consciousness, etc.?
How does the music reflect and support the text?
How do mode or key help create the mood?
How does instrumentation help create mood?
Is there word painting?
Performance and Production:
Is it recorded live or is it multi-tracked in a studio?
Are the tracks played or sampled?
What do special effects such as reverb, limiting, gates, and other processing add to the song?
Overall, how does the production add to the impact of the song?
Is there a “definitive” version of this song? How do other versions compare?
Is there a video for the song? What is the relationship between the music and the video? Does the video enhance or detract from the song’s meaning (or effectiveness or aesthetic value)?