The Magic Flute

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02u4Jf_aNPI&feature=emb_logo  Watch this concert, and follow the rubric to do this essay.The concert essay assignment is a four-paragraph essay in which you will describe the musical elements you observed in one of our online concerts. Over the course of the semester you have had a number of writing assignments designed to improve your ability to describe elements heard within a pieces of music. This concert essay is the culmination of those writing exercises. As you discovered in Module 14, I’ve collected YouTube videos of music from some of the historical periods we’ve studied and grouped those videos into “online concerts.” Some of these concerts contain multiple pieces while others consist of a single larger work. By now you should have familiarized yourselves with these concerts and selected one that most interests you (and that you think you can describe effectively). Over the course of this module, I would like you to make careful notes about the musical characteristics you observe in your concert. You will need to choose three different musical elements to write about. They can come from any of the pieces or movements in your concert but must be three different elements. Your concert essay will consist of four paragraphs. Paragraphs should be between 4 to 6 sentences in length. The first paragraph will be an introductory paragraph, either an overview of one of the pieces on your concert or a biographical sketch of the composer. The next three paragraphs will each describe a different musical element you observed in your concert. Even if your concert features multiple pieces, you can only write one paragraph on a particular musical element (such as form, texture, or singing style). Here are some more detailed directions on the paragraphs in your essay. Introductory ParagraphThe first paragraph should provide general introductory information. This information can be related to the piece or the composer. If you write about the piece, you should focus on a historical overview. You should also provide some explanation of how the individual piece adheres to or departs from the characteristics of it’s genre (for example, symphonies generally consist of four movements – if your symphony contains five movements that is worth noting in the introductory paragraph). If you write about the composer, your paragraph should be a biographical sketch: when were they born, where did they work, what are they best known for, etc. Don’t try to cover both the piece and the composer in one paragraph. You will spread yourself too thin and give superficial treatment to two topics instead of in-depth coverage of one. Choose one or the other and go deep.Descriptive ParagraphsThe next three paragraphs should each focus on a single musical element heard in that piece or movement. Let me repeat that for the sake of clarity: each paragraph should cover one musical element. Possible musical elements you could describe include singing style (aria vs. recit.), form, texture, thematic development, etc. I’m looking for detailed and specific descriptions of the characteristics you observed in the music. For example, if someone were writing about an opera, it would not be enough to say that the opera contained examples of aria and recitative singing. That would be true of almost any opera ever written. Tell me about your specific piece. Who was doing the aria singing and what movement was it? What about their singing in that movement indicated aria style as opposed to recitative. By way of comparison, which movement and character performed the recitative that you are using to provide contrast to the aria style singing? That is the level of detail I’m looking for. Common Mistakes (don’t do these)There are a couple common mistakes I would like you to avoid. First, while your emotional reaction to the music is an important part of any listening experience, it is not an important part of this essay. You have at most six sentences to demonstrate to me that you can recognize specific musical elements in a performance and write about them knowledgeably. Gushing about the rapture you felt while listening to a Puccini aria is like posting a neon sign above your essay that flashes “I have no idea what’s going on here so I’m gonna crank out some filler and hope the prof doesn’t notice.” That never ends well. By all means, feel rapturous. Then write about the facts. And don’t even think about describing what the performer was wearing. Yes, it happens. Yes, I deduct many, many points. Second, there are musical elements that, while important, don’t really provide the depth to build a paragraph around. Dynamics and meter are examples of such musical elements. Saying that the music started loud, then got soft, then got loud again is not college-level analysis. Focus on elements that provide greater opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of complex musical concepts. Please refer to the “Concert Essay Topics” page for ideas. Lastly, sometimes students will split a muscial element into multiple paragraphs. This usually results in the student adding a lot of filler because they’ve spread a good topic over too many sentences. For example, if your concert featured an opera, comparing and contrasting the singing styles (aria vs. recit) is a good choice for a paragraph. However, writing one paragraph about aria style and one paragraph about recitative will spread you too thin and will result in a lower score.Additional InfoType your essay in a word processor and then upload using the “view/complete” link below. Acceptable document formats are .doc, .docx, .odt, and .pdf. This essay must be entirely in your own words. Any copying from other sources, with or without citations, will result in a score of zero. Cutting and pasting from other web sources will result in my making a phone call to the dean of student life regarding plagiarism. Just don’t do it. The essay will be graded on the understanding of musical concepts demonstrated in the writing and the clarity of the musical descriptions.While you are free to choose the musical elements and characteristics that will be described in your Concert Essay, I have put together a list of topics that would be safe choices for your descriptive paragraphs. Choosing the right topic/element is crucial as writing about too broad a topic won’t demonstrate enough specific knowledge, but writing about too narrow a topic will make it hard to flesh out a full paragraph. I’ll start by mentioning some musical elements that are good choices for any piece, then I’ll focus in on some of the pieces found in our online concerts. Remember that you each of your descriptive paragraphs must have a different musical element. For example, if you watch an opera for your concert and write a descriptive paragraph about the form of the overture, you can’t write another descriptive paragraph on the form of an aria. That would be two paragraphs on the same topic: form. And lastly, in the instructions I mentioned some musical elements to avoid because they will not support an in-depth descriptive paragraph. Please refer to those instructions and steer clear of those topics. FORMYou just can’t go wrong writing about form. This will be true of any movement of any piece, because you will have to specify what form the movement is in (sonata allegro, rondo, binary, etc.). That gives you just the right amount of focus: not too broad, not too narrow. Remember that when you are writing about form in a large work like a symphony, string quartet, opera, concerto, etc. you need to specify which movement you are describing. Each of the movements of such works has its own form. It would be incorrect, for example, to say that Beethoven’s 5th symphony is in sonata allegro form. The 1st and 4th movements are in sonata allegro form, but the 2nd movement is in theme and variations, and the 3rd movement is in ternary form. Be specificTEXTURELike form, texture is always an appropriate choice. Every movement in our online concerts will either be homophonic or polyphonic (or may alternate between the two). Either of those two textures will enable you to provide at least four sentences of explanation and description. You may also have the option, depending on the piece you’re writing about, of comparing and contrasting those two textures as they appear at different times in the work. This should be familiar territory since you wrote about that same topic in previous writing assignments.SINGING STYLE: ARIA VS. RECITATIVEThis topic is a good choice if you are writing about an opera, oratorio, or cantata such as Mozart’s Die Zauberflote. It would not apply to choral works such as Mozart or Brahm’s Requiem. Each singing style will require its own explanation along with descriptions of where and how each style was featured in the piece. That will make it easy to write four to six solid sentences. Bear in mind that Die Zauberflöte is a Zingspiel, a German form of comic opera. Zingspiel make use of spoken dialogue which has an impact on this topic of singing style. I’m going to leave it up to you to research how that affects the use of recitative, but it will be important to know that if you’re going to write about singing style for that piece.SUGGESTIONS FOR SPECIFIC PIECES:Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)● Singing Style● Form of the overture● Form of an aria or duet (a few examples are listed below)”Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” – very famous aria by the Queen of the Night○ “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja” – Papageno○ “O Isis und Osiris” – Sarastro○ “Pa, pa, pa” – Papageno and Papagena● Texture comparison (a careful study of the opera will reveal examples of both textures; be sure to specify what movement contains each texture)

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