Prioritising the Elements of Music as a Starting Point of Analysis

This weeks  podcast concerns how we can begin to use the elements of music as a starting point of music analysis. It starts with three main questions

  1. How are the elements being used? This can be as basic as a description of what is taking place. For example, what is the form of the piece, what is the instrumentation, what is the texture – and does it change as the piece progresses, what type of mix are we dealing with – is this static or mobile, what effects are being used, how do the rhythms of various instruments interact to form a groove, how are particular instrumental timbres formulated, etc, etc, etc, etc.
  2. Once these element are identified – do any of them impact any specific meanings to us – and if so how and why? This is often a great starting point for a discussion around the polysemic nature of musical meaning – but also its ‘exactness’!
  3. Can we prioritise the importance of the elements in the song? This is essential, as the interest in a song has to come from somewhere. Is it in an unusual form, time signature, groove, lyrics, instrumentation, etc, etc. How do we rationalise this judgment? For example, a 4/4 time signature could be considered not important because it is ‘basic’, however, it may be essential in providing the space to allow other elements to work their magic.

This – and much more detail in included in podcast below.

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
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