kitty Brazelton writing music NYU, History of Music Humanities, Columbia hit the books

Term Paper Guidelines

Choose a first movement of a symphony by Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven (one we do not study in class; also, stay with the later symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, and enter Beethoven's 9th only at your own peril).

Buy your own CD version so you can play it over and over. It should be a piece you like so you don't mind living with it for a while–you can sample before buying at the music library. Make sure the CD you finally buy is a reputable performance and that it has a repeat of the Exposition.

Make a detailed motivic analysis of your symphonic movement.

Find the Exposition. Carefully map out the entire Exposition by diagramming the melodic motives (memorable melodic fragments, thematic building blocks) one by one and recording the CD times when these occur. Be aware that some sections of your piece, perhaps the Bridge for instance, may be non-motivic–or they may not be. Find a way to record these as necessary. Your diagram will be most of your paper.

Identify and name all your motives. Taking the step of identifying the important motives will require you to make decisions about the music which you may not feel prepared to make. Do it anyway. When you feel you have conquered the Exposition and can locate 1st theme, Bridge, 2nd theme, and Closing, proceed to diagram the Development, Recap and Coda drawing on the decisions you have made about the Exposition.

Based on your motivic analysis, generate the sonata form in your symphonic first movement. Your paper must include a complete and thorough diagram of the motives throughout the piece with specific CD times for 1st Theme, Bridge, 2nd Theme, Closing, Development (following the motives and how they are developed, rearranged and altered), Recap ( and its 1st Theme, Bridge, 2nd Theme, Closing and how they differ from the Exposition) and Coda if there is one. The rest of the paper is your explanation of the choices you made in your diagram, the CD times and how you feel your choices relate to sonata form.

If you follow these directions thoroughly, you will easily generate the required 5-10 pages (including diagrams) for this term paper. And you will never be intimidated by any piece of music again.

back to top