Orientation and Approach to Analysis

Required Materials for this Course

These lessons are designed to support and augment the text entitled Musical Form and Analysis, written by Glenn Spring and Jere Hutcheson, published by Waveland Press.  The lessons track the text, and coordinate with chapter topics.  Page numbers are given to quickly access assignments and Anthology pieces.  YouTube links and audio files are provided for music referenced in the lessons.  The print edition of the 2013 reissue is recommended, and a fresh copy should be used to mark your own analysis on the scores.  The ISBN is 978-1-4786-0722-9.  Here is a link to the Waveland Press site to order it.  If you are taking the course via hybrid or online delivery, you will need a laptop or other device with the capacity to participate in audio/video remote meetings.  A smart phone or scanner to create an Acrobat file (PDF) will be useful, as well as access to a printer. 

Making Sense of Music 

Approach musical analysis by listening, and letting the aural experience guide your quest to understand a piece of music.  We sense the texture and timbre, feel the pulse, follow the melodic contour, hear the dissonance and consonance, and ultimately try to make sense out of the composer’s intentions.  As we listen, our minds are trying to understand how elements in the music interact, related to our prior listening experience and expectations.  Having a history of listening to, performing, or analyzing the music of influential composers such as Bach, Mozart, or Chopin gives us a context for recognizing their stylistic traits. 

Elements of Form 

The traditional building blocks of form are motives (rhythmic or melodic gestures), phrases, and periods. In a structural diagram, lower-case letters are used to refer to phrases, and capital letters refer to sections of compositions with multiple parts. These sections are usually in different keys, either related or distant.  In most tonal music, cadences appear at points of arrival in a way that is similar to punctuation in a sentence. The Graphic Analysis Forms used in this course allow harmonic and structural information to be entered in a concise way.  Along with the Analytic Observations page, they provide a complete analytical frame of reference.

Regarding form, three things will happen structurally that can be identified.

  1. literal repetition
  2. repetition with variation
  3. presentation of new material

The new content will be rhythmically and melodically different from what came before. It may be difficult at first to hear and see the variations that are applied to musical elements that make the original material sound new, particularly when it is extensively manipulated. 

Overview of Tonal Harmony

Much of the music presented in the text was written in the Classical and Romantic periods by Western European composers.  They adhered to a strict code of “Common Practice.”  Please review these topics related to their harmonic practices.

Major/Minor Tonality
Harmonic Progressions
Non-Chord Tones
Secondary Functions
Mode Mixture
Neapolitan and Augmented 6th Chords
Post-Tonal Practices

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