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Music History III

Analysis Paper




Final Checklist     Links     Topics     Outline    Turnitin    Writing



In researching your topic, refer to the "Writing" link above for resources.



First Draft

  • One page (your introduction, plus the beginning of your analysis) Example

  • Correct formatting of beginning of paper

Second Draft

  • Complete paper - see requirements below.  The only difference is that after some feedback from your peers, you will be able to revise your paper one more time.

Final Analysis

  • 1000 words minimum (excluding cover sheet, tables, illustrations, and bibliography)

  • Must include at least 1 example from the score.  Do not copy an entire page from the score.  Refer to specific measure/measures.

  • APA or Chicago formatting

  • Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins

  • Submit through Turnitin (see below)

  • Submit in Blackboard in the Assignments tab



Final copy:  Submit through Turnitin:   Class ID 4127798  Enrollment password MUSC328 (case sensitive)


  1. Create an account

  2. Enroll in a class

  3. Click on the class name

  4. Click on the Submit button to the right of the assignment name ("Analysis")

  5. Select the "single file upload" from the "choose a paper submission method" menu

  6. Enter your name for "submission title"

  7. Click "browse" to find the file on your computer

  8. Find the file on your computer and click "open"

  9. Click "upload"

  10. Click "submit" to finalize the submission.

A few minutes after submitting, you will get an originality report.  Don't be alarmed if your paper shows a low percentage (still in the green).  Common phrases and titles will often show a match.  If your report shows a higher percentage (in the yellow or red areas), see me. 




Tips for Writing a Musical Analysis


The Goal:  an analysis should be a clear account of the piece as you experience it.  Additionally, it should provide insights that enhance your appreciation and instinctive response.


The Bottom Line:  provide a harmonic, melodic, and formal analysis of your piece.  Show "what's the same and what's different."  Why do this?  All music form is determined by repetition, contrast, and variety.  Sameness ensures unity whereas differences promote interest.


  1. Before Writing:

    1. Make a photocopy of your piece so that you can add Roman numerals (if applicable) and make any notes directly on the copy. 

    2. Listen to your piece at least 3-4 times a day to become completely familiar with it.  Do this for at least a week.  As you listen, try to answer these questions:

      1. What do you like about the piece?

      2. What is the "basic idea"? (a mood? interval? unusual harmonies or rhythms?)  This will probably be the unifying element.

      3. What are the prominent chords, harmonic areas, and/or scales?  (label them with letters or, if possible, Roman numerals)


    3. Make a diagram of the overall form on a separate piece of paper.  (Most likely, the overall form is determined by large-scale changes in instrumentation, texture, key, and/or melody.)  You will later include this diagram in the body of your written analysis.  Here's one way to diagram overall form:



    The Form of Debussy's String Quartet, Op. 10 (I)


    Section/mm.Principal DivisionsTonal Center


    (mm. 1-60)

    3 subsections

    1) theme 1 (mm. 1-12)

    2) transition (mm. 13-25)

    3) theme 2 (mm. 26-60)


    g minor


    Eb major

    Development (etc. . . .)







  2. Writing It (General Plan:  "Large-Small-Large")


    A.  Begin by describing overall mood and form.  Then insert your diagram of the form and provide descriptions of:

    1. separate elements, components, or sections (as determined by changes in key, texture, melody, etc.; you must always give formal determinants)

    2. unity (i.e., how things are the same, list correspondences here)

    3. contrast (i.e., how things are different)

    B.  Approximately in the middle of your analysis, describe in detail 1 or 2 small-scale passages.

    1. These passages are musical examples or harmonic reductions, and they should be included in the body of your text.

    2. Use computer notation

    3. Label and number each example clearly (e.g., Example 1: mm. 1-12) and refer to it in the text.

    4. Center musical examples and fit them within the margins of text

    C.  End by:

    1. simply describing last section of the piece; or

    2. describing what's unique or special about the overall piece (in light of other pieces by the composer or his/her contemporaries)

    3. checking spelling, measure numbers

  3. Other Things to Keep in Mind

    1. Show your knowledge of conventional music theory as much as possible.  Use octave identification, chord names (e.g., German augmented  sixth, quartal), scale names (e.g., Dorian, octatonic), etc.

    2. Abbreviate the words "measure" (e.g., m. 12) and "measures" (mm. 1-3).

    3. Proceed systematically and chronologically through the piece; for example, don't discuss the coda before the exposition.

    4. Use present tense throughout the analysis.  Go through your paper and make sure all tenses agree.

    5. Use Times New Roman font (12 point only).

    6. Footnotes should be kept to a minimum.

    7. Large works are italicized - movements are in quotation marks 




Suggested Topics for Analysis

You may use one of these if you wish.

You may choose another topic, but do not begin without checking with me first.


Organic Connections in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5

J. S. Bach’s Influence on Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto

Beethoven’s Influence on Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique

Schubert’s Setting of Goethe’s Erlking  (or Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel)

Schumann’s Setting of Heine’s “Im wunderschönen Monat”

Schubert and Schumann:  A Comparison of their Accompaniment Styles

Liszt and Chopin:  A Comparison of Their Musical Styles   

Comic Elements in Rossini’s Barber of Seville                      

Weber’s Symbolic Use of Harmony in Der Freischütz 

Weber’s Depiction of the Supernatural in the Wolf’s Glen Scene of Der Freischütz

Programmatic Elements in the Fifth Movement of Symphonie fantastique

The Form of the Fifth Movement of Symphonie fantastique

Russian Elements in Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudunov

Debussy's Variation Technique in Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Debussy's Orchestration Technique in Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Remembrances of a New England Past:  An Analysis of "The Alcotts" by Charles Ives







Final Checklist for Term Paper

____  made all changes in the drafts and attached drafts to the paper?

____  included a bibliography?

____  read aloud the paper to hear any mistakes?

____  ran spell checker?

____  avoided contractions and abbreviations?

____  avoided action verbs with inanimate objects: “This articles tells us little.”

____  inserted page numbers?

____  numbered and titled all examples and illustrations?

____  referred to all examples and illustrations in your text?

____  used italics for complete works and quotes for parts of works?

____  used italics for foreign expressions not in standard use?

____  fixed hanging “this” by adding a noun?

____  kept “I” (first person) out?

____  checked word count?

____  submitted paper through Turnitin


Grading Rubric for Analysis Paper


Performance Indicators

Failing (No)

Unacceptable (Really?)

Poor (Huh?)

Fair (Ok . . .)

Good (Ahh.)

Excellent (Wow!)


Missing or unacceptable content

Incomplete content (too short)

Incorrect information or inconclusive analysis

Acceptable content, but too much opinion

Good content with a supported conclusion

Well-researched content, well supported by analysis to draw a conclusion


0 points

12 points

14 points

16 points

18 points

20 points



No examples

Analysis attempted, but unacceptable

Incorrect or incomplete analysis and/or problem with examples

Acceptable analysis, but needs more support or better examples

Good analysis, sufficient examples

Insightful analysis, well supported by appropriate examples

0 points

12 points

14 points

16 points

18 points

20 points

Writing style

Paper unavailable or unacceptable writing style

Random ideas

Ideas unclear or cliché, lack of focus

Ideas clear but too conventional or general with little development

Ideas clear with sufficient development and generally organized

Ideas well-expressed, properly developed and coherently organized


0 points

12 points

14 points

16 points

18 points

20 points

Writing mechanics

Paper unavailable to grade writing form or unacceptable writing form

Unacceptable writing form

Multiple errors in punctuation, capitalization, grammar, spelling and sentence form

Several errors in punctuation, capitalization, grammar, spelling and sentence form

Minimal errors in punctuation, capitalization, grammar, spelling and sentence form

Correct punctuation, capitalization, grammar, spelling and sentence form


0 points

12 points

14 points

16 points

18 points

20 points


No citations and/or bibliography or paper unavailable to grade

Citations and/or bibliography attempted without attention to form

Multiple errors in formatting, citations, and bibliography

Several errors in formatting, citations, and bibliography

Minimal errors in formatting, citations, and bibliography

Correct formatting, citations, and bibliography


0 points

6 points

7 points

8 points

9 points

10 points


No citations

Only one source

Less than 3 sources

3 sources, but one or more of questionable reliability

At least 3 reliable  sources

More than 3 reliable sources


0 points

6 points

7 points

8 points

9 points

10 points

Total points




"Where I Spend Most of My Red Ink"


Inconsistent use of verb tense



Incorrect use of verb tense; for example, when verb tense agrees with a noun in a prepositional phrase, but not with the subject of the sentence

Neither of the two compositions is a symphony.



Faulty parallelism:  each idea in a series must match



Unclear pronoun reference:  be clear to what or to whom you are referring when using pronouns Example:  Because Senator Martin is less interested in the environment than in economic development, he sometimes neglects it.



Contractions - don't use them in a formal paper ;-)



Commas - See Snoopy illustration below



Who vs whom - if you can replace it with "he" or "she," then it should be "who"; if you can replace it with "him" or "her," then it should be "whom"



"Should" and "must" - If it is your opinion, back it up.  If it is someone else's idea, cite it.



"Some say" or "It is said" phrases - who says??  In a formal paper, do not make such vague statements.



Although not all commas make such a crucial difference in meaning, here is an illustration of the necessity of the humble comma.  The following sentence is interpreted by means of punctuation in two very different ways.


Woman without her man is nothing




1.  Woman; without her, man is nothing.


2.  Woman, without her man, is nothing.


Here's some "tongue in cheek" Grammar Advice and Dangling Modifiers







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