[Smt-talk] Advice re: analytical literature précis

Justin London jlondon at carleton.edu
Thu Aug 19 07:30:48 PDT 2010

Dear Jeff,

I am not sure this is "collective wisdom," but here are two ideas that  
may be useful: (a) checklists, and (b) models.

First, the checklists--that is to say, some specific guidelines as to  
what the essay should address, what a "meaningful summary" should  
include, including:

(a) A proper bibliographic citation of the article;
(b) A list of what piece or pieces it discusses (including primary  
versus secondary discussion);
(c) A list of what secondary literature it engages--who is the author  
arguing with, in other words;
(d) A characterization of its methodology--what kind of analysis is it?
(d) A characterization of its argument--is it making a point about a  
particular piece, how it works?  About a composer?  About a historical  
style?  Some combination?

And of course there are other things one can/should put on the  
checklist.  The checklist isn't the essay, but a preliminary exercise;  
the students then write up their summaries (with nice prose & good  
organization) using this information.

Second, the exemplars/models--these are both of different kinds of  
essays, and also of different kinds of summaries.  So I always give my  
students some sample summaries to make it clear what it is I am  
looking/hoping for in their own writing.  And of course, it is also  
good to give the students examples of good analytical writing to read  
in the first place.

Along these lines, I often have my students (advanced undergrads)  
write "reading guides" for articles discussed in class; typically I  
have 1-2 students write a reading guide and then take a leading role  
in the class's discussion of the target article & repertoire.  I've  
attached a sample /model reading guide (David Lewin on ; I hope it is  
useful to you.

All best,

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At 20:47 -0500 8/18/10, Jeffrey Perry wrote:
> To the collective wisdom--
>    I'm hoping that some of you may have pedagogic advice (or even  
> language that I could plunder outright). I want to require students  
> in a graduate course entitled "The Analysis of Tonal Music" to  
> submit a meaningful summary or pr?cis (longer than a RILM abstract  
> but shorter than the article itself) of one or more articles or  
> essays from relevant analytical literature, the article itself to be  
> selected by mutual agreement between instructor and student.
>    Prior attempts to describe what I mean by "meaningful summary" in  
> the past have often led to mutual frustration. Has anyone found a  
> way of framing such an assignment that elicits thoughtful, engaged,  
> critical (in the best sense) results? The students are a very  
> heterogeneous group of M.M. and doctoral students, mostly  
> performers, with some conductors and even a few theory majors in the  
> mix.
> Many thanks,
> jp
> Jeff Perry
> Professor of Music Theory
> 275 Music and Dramatic Arts
> School of Music, College of Music & Dramatic Arts
> Louisiana State University
> jperry at lsu.edu / (225) 578-3556 (voice) / (225) 578-2562 (fax)
> _______________________________________________
> Smt-talk mailing list
> Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
> http://lists.societymusictheory.org/listinfo.cgi/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org

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Justin London, Professor of Music (and other stuff)
Carleton College
Department of Music
One North College St.
Northfield, MN 55057 USA
fax 507-222-5561
jlondon at carleton.edu

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