Music and Musical Portrayal of Characters Assignment | Homework for You
The heart of the report should be your observations and discussion of music and musical
portrayal of characters.
First, note briefly the time and place of the performance, the name of composer and opera.
DO NOT write mostly about opera, plot or provide a long biography of the composer. DO
NOT WRITE ON ONE SCENE ONLY.
Footnote all your sources.
Your report should include the following:
1) Title and composer of opera – a good place to provide some biography and what was going
on in the composers life around the time he composed this opera
2) Date of composition – a good chance to show your knowledge of historical background
and musical styles! Tell a little bit about the historical period this opera was written in
(Classical, Romantic, 20th century?). Talk a little about how this opera fits in the style of the
time (is it following tradition? is it innovative in some ways? is it a
masterpiece recorgnized by contemporaries or was it not accepted at the time of premiere?)
3) What scenes (ensembles, recitatives, arias, choruses – learn all these genres that are part of
opera! so you can discuss in your report) you especially enjoyed or were most dramatic/moving
and why (talk about how music brings out the emotions portrayed by characters, use musical
terms learned – major/minor key, forte/piano dynamics, what tempo is used, describe
performer's expressions and voice and how it affected you personally.
4) Discuss lead performers and give their names.
5) Any characteristic or unusual sounds in the music.
6) Your personal understanding of the music and your reaction to the work and its
7) The sources of information used for this report – FOOT NOTE ALL SOURCES ACCORDING TO
You will be graded on writing style and grammar as well as musical content.
You may find a following guide helpful for writing about music:
Richard J. Wingell, Writing about Music: an Introductory Guide. Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Prentice Hall, 2002.
General information about composers and music may be found in the following:
Music Dictionaries and other Reference works
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. New York: Grove, 2000.
The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. London: Macmillan, 1998.
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. 8th ed. New York: Schirmer, 2000.
Diamond, Harold. Music Criticism: an Annotated Guide to the Literature. Metuchen:
Scarecrow, 1979. (Indexes books, periodicals, etc. for criticism of many major musical works).
Diamond, Harold. Music Analyses: an Annotated Guide to the Literature. New
York: Schirmer, 1991. (Indexes books, periodicals, etc. for analyses of many major musical
Music Index. Detroit: Information Coordinators.
General Program Notes and Genre Guides
Biancolli, Louis Leopold, ed. The Analytical Concert Guide. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday,
1951. (covers standard repertory)
Braunstein, Joseph. Musica Aeterna: Program Notes. New York: Musica aeterna, 1968-76.
Homework for You