Critique Guidelines for Music Appreciation

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1. Setting: One or two sentences. A brief description of the environment (where and when).

2. The Ensemble:

A. Describe the instrumentation that was used in the group. How were they presented? As a group, or as a soloist accompanied by a group, etc.

B. What was the role of the individual instruments? Were they playing the melody? Or were they accompanying the soloist? Did they appear to shift from melody/solo to accompaniment at different times? How did the musicians appear to be using their instruments to fulfill these roles?

3. The Music:

A. Describe the songs individually. Did the titles appear to have any particular meaning? How did the sound of the music relate to the title?

B. Look for the following elements in describing the songs:

Tempo: slow, medium-tempo, fast (up-tempo).

Rhythm: Steady beat, complex rhythms, use of syncopation.
Changes in rhythm (did it start simple and then become
More complex). Danceable beat, or more subdued.
Could you nod your head or tap your foot?

Melody: In the heads or in the solos, did you hear long melodies? Short "riffs?" Use of many notes? Use of a few notes?

Volume: When was it soft? When was it loud? Did the volume
change?

(Describe how the musicians used their instruments to achieve all of these effects)

Mood: How did the soloist or ensemble start a particular piece? How did they use the above elements of sound (tempo,
rhythm, melody, volume) to convey different levels of
energy or different kinds of moods?

Examples: reflective, aggressive, pensive, exuberant,
melancholy, peaceful, or various combinations.

Did the musicians do anything in particular to "grab" the
listener and generate interest (i.e., played
simply in the beginning, played loud, played soft,
gradually grew louder, played a short rhythmic figure
over and over to build tension, etc.)?

C. The effect of the pieces:

What was the over-all effect of a piece and why?
Examples: Dramatic, startling,...
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