For your final writing project, you will attend a live professional western classical music concert.
You will write a short paper in which you describe the differences and similarities between two
compositions you hear in the concert.
With longer works containing multiple independent parts – such as movements in a symphony
or traditional chamber work, or the overture, recitatives, arias, and choruses of an opera –
choose only one to concentrate on. For the work to compare it to, choose a different
composition entirely.
You can use video recordings later to refresh your memory, and to continue delving deeper into
the work. You can also use minutes and second on the video to help articulate which parts of
the work you are discussing.
Write about aspects of the music that are the most audible, striking, or interesting to you. What
you concentrate on can be subjectively chosen: this is not an analysis paper. To describe your
own subjective listening experience, try to use objective, technical terminology that you have
learned in class.
Some examples of similarities and differences you might observe:
• “Both of these pieces are in a duple meter and relatively fast tempo.”
• “Lasso’s Kyrie is a polyphonic vocal composition, and so is the opening of Bach’s St. John
Passion. However, while Lasso’s mass uses only human voices, Bach’s work is set for
choir and orchestra.”
• “These examples are both movements from symphonies. Mozart’s Symphony no. 40 is
for a much smaller ensemble than Bruckner’s first symphony, and is also much shorter.”
• “The first example is instrumental chamber music, the second one is a song.”
• “The Brahms Intermezzo has a light, hopeful atmosphere to it, while Chopin’s Marche
funèbre is solemn and gloomy.”
You can make observations about form if it seems relevant to the music you are listening to.
This can include more general descriptions of processes unfolding in the pieces. Some examples:
• “While these two pieces are stylistically very different from each other, both start soft,
build up towards a loud climax towards the end, and conclude quickly after.”
• “Both works are in an ABA ternary form, with a contrasting middle section.”
• “Mozart’s Rondo keeps returning to its refrain and repeating it exactly, while Dufay’s
Gloria keeps introducing new melodies.”
• “The sonata and the string quartet movement are both in sonata form.”
Avoid research. This assignment should be based mainly on your own listening experience.
Giving extensive historical background is not necessary nor desirable.