Instructions How to Write

Composers of the Baroque Era

Composers of the Baroque Era (c. 1600 - 1750) were very interested in the powers that music holds over human emotions. This may be seen not only in their invention/development of opera and other "dramatic" vocal genres, but in many of their instrumental compositions as well.

In our own modern lifestyles, music still exhibits power over our feelings. Different styles of music might be found in religious services; at a sporting event; as the background to a film (film score); in an elevator; while "holding" for a phone call; at our workplaces; setting the ambiance at a favorite restaurant; throughout a department store; etc. -- and they affect us in different ways. We frequently choose different styles of music to accompany our activities/moods throughout daily routines.

Keep a Listening Log or journal over the course of a 2-3 day period making note of all the music that you encounter during that time. In what ways have musical "events" been a part of your activities? Where and in what situations did you encounter music? -- and how did it impact upon your emotions? (Many musical encounters seem to pass unnoticed -- sometimes intended to be subliminal -- so KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN throughout this experiment! You may very well learn something about yourself!).

Write about two specific events where you can discuss the music thoroughly. Use the terms you have been learning about all semester to help you, such as discussing any or all of the Elements of Music (Musical Time, Pitch, Timbre, Texture, Dynamics, and Form) that you heard. Did these elements influence the listening experience? If so, then how? For example, walking through the department store, I heard a piece of music that was a rock ballad from the 1980 s. The dynamics were soft, and it was hard to hear the music, but the instrumentation consisted of… You may want to then discuss why you think that type of music was playing, or why it was at a soft dynamic, or who it was trying to attract or not attract.

Discuss your findings in a 3 page essay, double spaced (no need to include your journal notes taken during the 2-3 days), double spaced, Times font (size 11). Please proofread your paper before handing it in. If you want me to proofread it, then you must submit it to me (via course email) at least one week before the assignment is due. Also, use the spell check option on your word processor (this seems obvious, but it often gets overlooked by everyone!).

After completing the Listening Log, name your document as follows: your last name_project1, and save it as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file.

You will find the Drop Box in the "Assessments" button at the top of your D2L site then click on “Assignments”. Click on Project 1 Drop Box. Upload your assignment from your computer and attach it to the drop box.


Grammar and spelling..............................................................................20%

Content (detailed analysis of two pieces or musical events)........................80%

Here are some questions to get you started when describing the "Elements of Music":


Can you describe it in terms of rhythm? What is the duration of most of the pitches? Are they long held notes or short punctuations of pitch or a combination of the two? How do the durations of the pitches effect the mood of the piece? Is there a steady beat throughout the entire piece? What do you perceive as the tempo of the piece (ex. Largo (slow), Moderato (medium), Allegro (Fast), etc.)? Can you identify the meter? Is it duple, triple, quadruple, or additive? Compound or simple? Do you notice any syncopation or polyrhythm throughout the piece?


What is the length of the melody or melodies? What is the range and contour of the melody? Is there conjunct or disjunct movement between the pitches of the melody? Does the harmony create suspense to the melody? Does it provide an accompaniment to the melody other than chords? Is there a counter-melody that accompanies the melody? Does it sound like a major or minor key? If there are lyrics, how does the melody and harmony support the words and emotions of the singer?


Is the texture homophonic, monophonic, or polyphonic? Does it stay the same or change throughout? Why do you think it stays the same or changes? Does the texture enhance the melody or lyrics? Does the texture take anything away from the lyrics? What do you think the composer is trying to communicate with the audience through the texture he/she has chosen? Do you think that a different texture for the piece would have as much impact on the listener as the one chosen by the composer? Why?


Decide what type of category the instruments you hear belongs to (aerophone, chordophone, membranophone, idiophone, or electrophone). What is being vibrated to create a sound? What is creating the vibration? How is the sound being amplified? What is the instrument made of? Are there any other qualities or characteristics about the instruments that you find interesting? What makes these instruments appealing or not appealing to you? What is the voice type of the singer(s)? Why do you think it is their voice type? Do you like that particular range of the singer? Are there any special effects that might be distorting the sound of the singer or instrument?


What is the musical form of the piece? Is there any repetition? Variation? Contrast? Restatement? Is there any improvisation in the piece? Is the piece through composed of strophic? Is there any call and response? Is there an ostinato? Why do you think the composer chose this form? Does it enhance the mood or energy of the music? Does it enhance the lyrics of the piece? Do you think that a different form for the piece would have as much impact on the listener as the one chosen by the composer? Why?


What is the overall range of the dynamics in this piece? Do the dynamics fluctuate often or rarely? Are there sudden changes in dynamics or gradual changes? Are there certain repeated sections of the piece that have the same dynamics every time? Do the dynamics enhance the lyrics or melody? What do you think the composer of the piece is trying to communicate to the audience with the dynamics that were chosen?

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