Concert Review
You will attend an online music concert and review it in an essay.
You will view the CSUS Symphony Orchestra concert that will be posted online beginning March 16. The concert can be found on Facebook at “Sacramento State School of Music at
Concerts last about one and one half to two hours and usually include an intermission of 15 minutes in the middle. The exception is an opera, which may be a bit longer. If the concert is at CSUS you can wear whatever you usually wear to school and youll blend in with the rest of the audience, as theyll be many other students there. If you go to a concert at another venue, you might find that people will be dressed a bit more formally.
Youll receive a concert program at the door. Hang on to this. The program tells you all the pieces on the program and often provides a little background information about the pieces, so if you get to the concert early you can read about the music before you hear it. Sometimes one piece will have several sections, called movements. Each movement can be 5 to 15 minutes long; usually the audience does not applaud between movements, allowing everyone to enjoy the continuity of the piece. (If you are nervous about applauding alone, you can wait until other people start up, and then join in.)
Sometimes several movements are played without pause, and sometimes there is a break between them. This gets confusing, and it can be hard to tell where you are in the program. Dont worry if this happens. I can usually tell which piece you are writing about even if you misidentify the movement. Also, during the applause, you can always ask someone sitting nearby where you are on the program. If you say you havent been to many concerts and need some information, people will tend to be friendly and willing to help.
You should take notes at intermission and right after the concert, so you can remember your impressions of the music. An easy way to do this is to jot comments down on the program itself. It is better not to write while the performers are playing or singing; the scratching of a pencil is surprisingly audible and distracting to fellow audience members. Of course you should not text, or use a computer or cellphone during a concert, as this will certainly annoy the people around you.

III. SOME THOUGHTS ON WRITING ABOUT MUSIC (Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.)
Some people feel intimidated by the prospect of writing about music. In a way, this is a reasonable and appropriately humble reaction; if music could be easily translated into English, we would not need music. On the other hand, remember this: Your response to the music and your interpretation of what you hear are as valid as the next persons. Furthermore, when you struggle to express your feelings about music, you become a more engaged and questioning listener.
It will make it easier to put your response into words if you literally ask yourself questions about what you hear as you go along. Here is a list of questions you can take to the concert to remind yourself of different ways to listen to the music:
o How does the music make you feel? If the music makes you sad (or happy) exactly what kind of sadness (or happiness) does it create? Melancholy, despair, listlessness, wistfulness, and regret are all different sorts of sadness, for example.
o Does the music describe (or inspire) movement? If so, what kind of movement? Jerky, smooth, frenetic, rocking, swinging, etc.?
o Does the texture of the music influence your response? This means: Do you hear one melody line, a melody accompanied by other voices in the background, many voices blending together, many voices acting independently, many voices close together, many voices in very different ranges?
o Do the timbres (sound colors) influence your reaction to the music?
o Does the music inspire a narrative? If it does, figure out how the sounds conjure up different parts of the story.
o In what ways does the music create and fulfill (or defy) expectations?
o In what ways is the music surprising?
o What is the character of the beat or pulse? Does the rhythm have a distinctive character?
o How would you compare the music to other specific works of art? Does it remind you, for instance, of a painting you have seen recently, or of a certain building or sculpture? (Please avoid comparing the music to cartoons though.)
o How do the pieces on the program compare and contrast with one another?
o How does the whole program of varied pieces work together?

An ideal concert review does several jobs at once: For one thing, it tells a beguiling story in answer to the question, What happened at the concert? The review also reveals what the music communicated to the writer. Finally, the writer analyzes the music in answer to this question, How did the music communicate its message?
Include these features in your essay:
The concert review includes detailed descriptions of at least three works from the program, and compares or contrasts them with other jazz, classical, and/or popular music that we have studied.
The reader learns what was communicated by the music. (Stories, images, emotions, characters, movement, divine inspiration, physical sensation are a few of the possibilities.)
The reader learns what tools the performers and composers used to communicate. (Sound colors, rhythm, instrumentation, volume, articulation, surprise, texture, melodic range, lyrics and established associations of melodies or sounds are a few of the possible tools.)
The essay includes an analysis of the overall effect of the pieces chosen by the performers, and may include suggestions for ways to improve the performers connection with the audience.
The review communicates the writers imaginative individual response to the music.
Each review is 1250-1500 words and is turned in on time.
The review is polished and free of spelling and punctuation errors.
Each paragraph exhibits excellent continuity.
The essay as a whole exhibits excellent continuity; related ideas are kept together.
The writer uses vivid language and action verbs.
The writer uses varied sentence structures.
The essay is free of grammatical errors.
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vivid language and action verbs.
The writer uses varied sentence structures.
The essay is free of grammatical errors.

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