Listening/Writing Assignment Instructions
Music Appreciation (MUSC 1100)
You are required to complete a roughly 400-600 word listening/writing assignment for most of
the units in the course. Instructions for these assignments may be specific or unique for that
particular unit. Read your instructions for each unit to address specific requirements.
Submit assignments on the topic and format as directed in each unit. No assignments will be
accepted after its due date. Do not wait until the last minute to complete these assignments.
Technical reasons or issues are not acceptable reasons for not meeting a deadline. Plan on
submitting a day or so early in case a technical issue must be overcome so you may submit on
In some cases, you’ll be asked to pick your own music to write about or to listen to music not
included in the textbook. I recommend that you listen to Public Broadcast on FM (you may also
stream it by accessing the appropriate web site) or do a search on YouTube by the composer’s
name. However, you can easily access an endless number of classical music stations on the
Internet by typing “classical radio” into Google or another search engine.
In order to be acceptable, your assignments must be completed using the template provided here
and must include the following information.
The heading at the top of the assignment should include:
• Your name and class section;
• The number of the assignment (for example: “Unit 2 Listening/Writing Assignment”);
• A title for your writing/listening assignment that reflects its topic.
Each assignment should include:
- A clear summary of the topic.
- Some historical background for the music discussed in the assignment in the first paragraph of
the paper. This should represent no more than one third of the completed assignment.
- Immediate description of what you hear in the music using the musical terminology
introduced in class. This should amount to a substantial part of your assignment.
- No fewer than three paragraphs; the final paragraph should include a statement that
summarizes your response to the question posed by the topic.
- A bibliography, works cited, or reference list at the end of your paper (MLA, APA, or
Chicago/Turabian format acceptable) that includes any sources and/or the URLs from which you
have obtained any information included in your assignment. Only one source may be obtained
from within the class shell. You may NOT use Wikipedia as one of your references for this
- The paper must contain at least eight key music terms (used properly) in bold print. These
terms should be selected from the textbook. Terms from previously covered chapters and units
often may be incorporated later in the course. The name of musical periods (Baroque period),
names of instruments (violin, cello), and title of the musical pieces (Flute concerto in F major)
are unacceptable as musical terms (as part of the eight required) after unit two. See the examples
below for proper bold identification of key terms.
- Your papers must be submitted as an assignment through the dropbox as instructed in the
• Most importantly, you will be graded on how well you express your opinions and
support them using key musical terms. You will not be graded on your musical taste.
For example, “I did not like this concerto” or “it makes me feel relaxed” would be
unacceptable comments. “I did not like this concerto because it has a monotonous rhythm
with drum hits on every beat and an annoying narrow-ranged melody” would be both
acceptable and intriguing.
I encourage you to type your reports in a word processing application to assist in spelling and
proper grammar. See the next two pages for examples of two good assignments. You might use
these as templates for format and content.
As always, I am eager to help you with this and all other assignments!
Music Appreciation 1100 Listening Assignment Module #1
Performance Review of Also sprach Zarathustra
On August 25th, 2015 I listened to Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra on
youtube.com which I found by searching for “classical radio” on google.com. It was performed by
the BBC Philharmonic and conducted by Juanjo Mena.
Richard Georg Strauss was a prolific popular German composer of the Romantic period
who composed a variety of symphonies before and during the first and second World Wars. His
father, Franz Strauss, was a virtuoso horn player for the Munich Court Orchestra. Strauss
composed more than 140 works before he even graduated. While conducting a piece which he,
himself, had written for the Meiningen Orchestra, Richard was encouraged, against his father’s
anti-Wagnerian, classical preferences to pursue the art of orchestrating “tone poems”, symphonies
that use music to phonetically evoke and follow a piece of non-music artwork such as a short story,
painting or poem.
Also Sprach Zarathustra is an example of this type of “tone poem” or “symphonic poem”
although there are subtle differences between those definitions. Musically illustrating the novel of
the same name by Friedrich Nietzsche, the composition is split into nine sections between three
pauses. It is also renowned for being a central theme for the Arthur C. Clarke film 2001: A Space
Considering that I am a novice at recognizing the orchestral instruments, the video
combined with the resources provided from the Philharmonia website were extremely helpful. Also
Sprach Zarathustra was beautiful. The melodies were very simple and easy to follow throughout
the piece. The tempo was varied and fun. I was impressed by how the strings, woodwind and
brass genres traded turns playing it as well as the harmony. I enjoyed the way that the percussion,
the timpani in particular, was used. The effect announced a grand event with the contrasting and
primal sound. The brass without timpani was used occasionally to recall the primary melody as
the piece rose to its most intensemoments.
Within each of its dynamic tides, Also Sprach Zarathustra used strings to evoke a feeling
of quiet, pleasant and polite consonance which would abruptly and often dissonantly erupt into a
chaotic, rushed and busy explosion of instrumentation. The brass would gradually accompany it
to make me feel a type of intense dissonant anticipation that resolved along with the melody. The
melody is played in with different meters and keys, as well and those contexts change the effect
from intimidating to harmless with a pedestrian, cosmopolitan feel to it. In the latter third, the
bassoon and harp were brought to the forefront to accommodate that. To have that level of control
would take a huge amount of familiarity and mastery and I found myself hugely admiring..
Although I still have a lot to learn about these physical and musical elements and I lack the
vocabulary to describe it, I did enjoy studying the Also Sprach Zarathustra.