Unit 2: Choosing compositions and developing criteria for evaluating music analysis


Note.jpgMusic Analysis

Using musical compositions in the theory classroom is important in connecting those individual music theory concepts within actual works. Students who are able to analyze individual music elements relating to rhythm, melody, harmony and texture in compositions are better able to understand the importance of learning individual concepts. These individual music elements are better retained when they are applied to musical works and their purpose is understood and carried through to the areas of aural training, music writing.

Different forms of analytical thought complement composing and performing to generate an understanding of music. Analysis is applied to a wide range of musical styles and techniques where individual concepts can be applied and learners can see how they are incorporated into the various styles. Overall, analysis develops the learner’s capacity for musical thought.

Equally important to choosing the correct music composition for analysis is the proper evaluation of student progress. In addition to picking examples that carry valuable music concepts/elements, evaluation must link to objectives set and be sufficient to result in progress. In this unit, you will work on choosing a real composition to be used for analysis in the classroom as well as develop criteria for evaluating compositions used in music analysis.

Note.jpgActivity 1 - Choosing Music Compositions For Analysis

To begin, choose a certain area of music theory you would like learners to focus on. Use the sites listed below to choose a piece for analysis that incorporates musical elements of this particular area.

Analysis Resources

Solomon’s Music Theory

Some suggestions on areas of music theory:

  • intervals
  • triads/inversions
  • seventh chords/inversions
  • secondary dominants
  • cadences
  • non-harmonic tones


Use the space below to provide a reflection on the analysis composition you chose. In your reflection, include the name of the piece you chose and an explanation as to why you chose the particular piece. Include thoughts on which area of music theory it relates to and what specific music elements are included in the piece. Also please comment on why you think it is important to include real compositions when teaching elements of music theory.

Activity 1 Reflection

Note.jpgActivity 2 - Developing Criteria For Evaluating Music Compositions Used In Analysis

For this activity you will create your own criteria for evaluating music compositions that may be used for analysis in a music theory class. Create a rubric that includes criteria that you think music compositions should meet in order for them to be used for effective class instruction. A superior composition would meet all criteria at the highest level and would be used as an appropriate tool to incorporate multiple music concepts and areas of music theory. Some criteria you may want to consider: quality/accuracy of notated music, specific music elements covered, quality of sound if there is a recording....

After you have developed a criteria for evaluation, choose a music composition (or excerpt) and use your criteria to evaluate it. Include a rationale as to why your specific criteria are important in evaluating compositions and write a brief critique of the composition you evaluated.

Use the space below to complete activity 2

Activity 2 Criteria/Reflection

Go to: Unit 3: Using technology to enhance development of music analysis skills

Back to: Developing Music Analysis Skills Using Feedback, Composition And Technology