MSC 1003 - Music in Civilization

Special Assignment #2: The Form Timeline INSTRUCTIONS
OK, welcome to the second special assignment. Here you will dig in to a movement from a Classic Period piece and follow one of my form diagrams. Your job is to indicate when all of the stuff in the diagram happens, and add some descriptions of the different parts in the piece. Let me give you step-by-step instructions.

Back to assignment page

I. Listen to your piece, look at the map

At the top of your assignment page is a big diagram of your piece, and an audio clip. Listen to the piece and look at the diagram - see if you can follow it all the way through, so that you always know where you are in the form.

II. Start filling in the time blanks

Below the audio clip is a list of events that happens in the piece. Basically what I've done here is broken down the diagram into elements and listed all of the different parts, one after the other.

Play the audio clip and watch the little timer. Try to catch what time it is (in minutes and seconds) when each thing starts. I've given you one or two answers already, in order to help you get started.

It is likely that we may disagree a little bit on exactly when things start. I'll have a tolerance of plus or minus two seconds from what I think the answer is. That's a lot of time in music, so it should not be a problem. If I think the answer is :30 and you say :32, it's still correct.

Remember to scroll down to the bottom of the screen frequently and hit "save draft." It would be terrible to do a lot of work and then lose it all! If the screen refreshes and your data is still there, it has saved successfully.

III. Add Comments

Also, I want you to add some descriptions of the different parts in the piece. You do this by clicking on an "add comment" button. This will open up a text box that you can fill with your thoughts on that particular section of the piece.

What should you write?

Almost anything! There are a lot of different strategies you can use.

You can try to describe the section in objective, musical terms. Is it relatively loud, soft, fast, slow, high, low, simple, or complex? Can you hear that a particular instrument is doing something interesting? You can try to use "proper" musical terms (like staccato or legato) or use any words that make sense to you.

You can also try to describe the parts in a more psychological or poetic way. You can describe the mood as happy, sad, relaxed, angry, et cetera, or you could use imagery, like "this sounds like a ball bouncing down some stairs."

Some students get really creative and make a whole narrative for the piece, with different characters and everything. They literally take the form of the piece and turn it into a story. I've gotten some really great responses for this project that were fun to read.

Overall, I'm just looking for some sign that you are really listening to the piece and thinking about it. I say that "almost" anything is good, because I'm a little worried that some student will troll me and fill in the form with ridiculous nonsense. (Then they'd argue that "you said anything is good!") But as long as it's a real thought that a person would really think, I'm going to be happy.

How many comments do you need?

You don't need to write something for every single item.

For an A, I'm hoping that you can focus on the most interesting details in the piece and describe them. Maybe a good quantity is 6-8 smart comments (though it depends on the piece.)

For a B I think we are talking at least 3 or 4.

The usual stuff about plagiarism 🐍

Like with our last assignment, I don't want you to google up a bunch of stuff and copy and paste it. It's usually really easy to tell when somebody is doing that and the results tend to be awful - it makes your answer worse, not better. I really want your own creative and perceptive thoughts.

You can consult with your other classmates and work together if you want, but please submit your own unique material, don't give me duplicate copies of the same thing.

And of course if I find out you've paid somebody on Chegg (or whatever) to do your assignment I'll give you an F for the class and refer you to the dean of students. That's never OK.

IV. The paper version

This assignment used to come with a paper handout. I'll include a link to the old version in PDF format that you could print out, if you like. Instead of filling out the web form, you could take a picture of your paper version and email it to me. Or you could really mail it to me, that would be kind of nice.

V. Ask me for help

Some people can do this project quickly and easily, and maybe that includes you. I think that once you really focus on it you may find it surprisingly doable.

However, some people do have a hard time getting started, or they lack confidence in their ability to follow one of these diagrams. If that is what you are experiencing, feel free to ask me for help. We can do a zoom session and listen to the piece together. I can guide you through the diagram and help you follow it.

Due date and grading

This assignment will be due on the day of Wed, Dec 2. It will be graded with a score from 0-100 (or A to F) and it will make up 10% of your total grade for the class.


All right, I think that's everything. Time to go back to the assignment page and check out your piece!