Writing about Music Assignment #3: Performance Review

Essay 03. Performance Review. 6-8 pp.

Attend a live performance and write about it from two different perspectives (detailed below). In essence this assignment is really two separate writing tasks on the same topic; students should submit two papers stapled together (each 3-4 pp. long).

  1. Ethnographic field notes:

Describe the event as a site of cultural production, focussing on the audience, their behaviours, their interactions, and the ways in which they express their appreciation for the music. What conclusions can be drawn from your observations? How did this performance enable certain kinds of experience, whether contemplative or social? What was the meaning of this event in the lives of the participants?

  1. Music criticism (concert review)
    Write a review of the concert utilising a journalistic style. In your evaluation of the performance, be aware of whether you are critiquing the intrinsic qualities of the particular musical “works” under consideration (however defined) or aspects of the specific live performance at which you were present.

Audience:For part 1: academically inclined readers, for part 2: newspaper subscribers, musical enthusiasts

Pre-Draft Writing Assignments:

a)    close reading of trade reviews

b)   short, in-class ethnographic writing assignment: describing + critiquing the classroom setting as listening experience (in which they sit and listen to musical examples played through a computer and a sound system; they write about the listening)

c)    short, in-class ethnographic writing assignment: describe two very different stagings of the same opera scene (in this case the musical “work” is unchanged but the experience/realisation of the material differs greatly)

Writing Lessons: tone, style, context, analysis, audience, motive


Christopher Small, Musicking, pp. 1-18
Reviews in the Village Voice, or similar

Posted in Critique a text to support an arguable thesis

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