Compact Discs –You must report on all the music contained on the CD. If you discuss only part of the music, your report will not count. The list below is a good place to begin when you are choosing a CD. CDs must be cleared with your professor if you are writing about musicians not listed below.
YouTube – Your report must include a discussion of at least three different YouTube videos. The list below will be helpful as you search for videos to write about. YouTube videos must be cleared with your professor if you are writing about musicians not listed below.
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis
Jelly Roll Morton
The list above is just a suggestion. Other important people we discuss in class could be written about as well. It should be easy to find recordings of these artists at your local outlets, in itunes, or on YouTube. Avoid “best of” recordings. If you want to write about a person not included on the list, email me and I will let you know if they are appropriate. For example, Kenny G is not an acceptable choice.
Writing the Report
I have included some suggestions below in the form of questions you may want to ask yourself to stimulate your thinking. You certainly would not want to include answers to all these questions in your assignments, but they may help you get some ideas about what you want to discuss. Ask yourself the following questions about these aspects of the performance:
The Head: (pre-arranged section or sections)
• Is there a pre-arranged section?
• Is it simple? (few notes, easy to sing along with)
• Is it complex (many notes, difficult or impossible to sing along with)
• How is it unique?
• How is it typical?
• How does it compare with other heads by the same composer; different composers?
• What is the form? (12-bar blues; AABA; through-composed; other)
• Is the tempo slow, moderate, fast, or extremely fast? Is it constant or changing? (Remember, jazz tunes are usually performed at a constant tempo throughout.)
• What is the overall feeling or mood? (blue, soulful, frantic, calm, subtle, aggressive, other) How is the mood created? What musical techniques are used?
• Is there any improvisation? How do you know?
• How is the improvised section related to the head? (form, chord progression, rhythmic feel, other).
• Does the mood change? How? Why?
• What is the rhythm section doing? How is the rhythm section reacting to the soloist?
• How does the music move toward a climax?
• If there is more than one improvised solo, compare and contrast them
• Why do you think the musicians made this recording? What were they trying to accomplish musically? Were they successful? Why or why not?
• How did this music impact you?
• Is this music historically significant? Why or why not?
• Has this music changed you in any way? How?
• Why did you choose this selection?
• How is this music different or similar to the music you normally listen to?
• Why do you think more people do not listen to this music?
Things to avoid:
• Subjective reactions: For example: “As I listened, I could picture little elves dancing down a path through the woods, while flying robots from another dimension battled pink unicorns overhead.” This may be what you were thinking of when you listened, but it says nothing specific about the music.
• Statements that don’t mean anything: For example: “He had a round, full sound.” This could apply to almost any jazz musician.
• Padding: Filling up your paper with unnecessary words is called “padding.” For Example: “The first tune on the CD that I would like to discuss is . . .” Another Example: You know, feelings will develop, that happens among humans and it’s good it happens, and I have always said, and I said it again just last week, that you are a good friend, I care about you, and it’s fair to say in terms of emotional responses that mine has escalated or increased somewhat, and ‘love’ would not be a wholly inappropriate word to use to describe where I’m coming from.” (Peggie Noonan speaking of how Obama has been padding his sentences lately.) Just say “I love you” and be done with it. Students pad their papers when they don’t have enough substance to write about. They think the professor will simply look at the number of words they use and give them a good grade. It doesn’t work.
• Inaccurate information: Be sure what you are saying is correct. If you are not sure, look it up or leave it out. Talk about what you are sure of.
• Run-on sentences and incorrect punctuation: Learn how to correctly use a period, comma, semi-colon, and colon. Sentences begin with a capital letter.
• Poor spelling: The days for having misspelled words in your paper are over. Computers should make misspelled words very rare. Use spell check. Have others read your paper and check it for errors before you hand it in
• Plagiarism: Plagiarism is using someone else’s material and not giving them credit. This is a serious offense and will be treated accordingly. Washburn University has a plagiarism policy that will be strictly followed. Any plagiarism found in your paper will result in a zero for that assignment. A second offense will result in the student being dropped from the class.