Sound, Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, & Growth (SHMRG)When listening to a piece for analysis, here are some handy things to listen for and questions to ask yourself about the music.
Use this as your guide for analyses. Although these terms may not make sense to you at the moment, revisit this list as we cover topics like Rhythm or Harmony and revisit analyses we have already done.
1.Sound-Timbre: Selection, combination, & the degree of contrast of instruments/voices
-Texture: Doubling, overlap, contrast, homophonic, polyphonic, monophonic
-Range: Tessitura (suitable range of an instrument or voice part), gaps-Dynamics: Terraced, implied by instrumentation, types & frequency of change
2.Harmony-Function: Used for color or for tension?-Tonality: Tonal, modal, atonal, serial, bitonal, polycentric, unified, expanded-Relationships: Key schemes, is there a change in key?
-Chords: Are the chords consonant, dissonant, or sequenced?
-Counterpoint: Part exchange, imitation, canon, fugue, stretto, augmentation, diminution
3.Melody-Range: What is the mode? What is the tessitura of the instrument or voice part?-Motion: Stepwise, skipping, or leaping? Chromatic or diatonic?-Patterns: Rising, falling, level, wave-form, sawtooth, undulating?
-Thematic: Is it new material, or previous material (thematic)?-Climax: Are there local high or low points? Are there large-scale low or high points?
4.Rhythm-Surface: What is the frequency of durations and patterns?
-Continuum: Meter (regular, irregular) or tempo-Interaction: Textural rhythm, harmonic rhythm, and contour rhythm
-Change: Amount & location of stress, lull, or transition-Fabric: Homorhythmic, polyrhythmic, polymetric, variant rhythmic density
5.Growth-Balance: What is the relationship between the movements/songs? Are they similar or different in tempo, dynamics, texture, tonality, meter, range of intensity?
-Evolution: Heterogeneity or homogeneity?
-Continuation: Is there recurrence, development, or contrast between movements/songs?
-Movement: Is there stability, local activity, or directional motion from one movement/song to the next? Is the movement structural (important) or ornamental (less important)?
-Module: Is there a section where growth takes place?
Adapted from LaRue, Jan. 1970. Guidelines for Style Analysis: A Comprehensive Outline of Basic Principles for the Analysis of Musical Style. New York: W.W. Norton.
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