Music Description Essay

There are many kinds of music, many ways to describe it, and many ways it affects us.

Types of Music

Let’s look first at the different kinds of music. This is one of the first ways that people describe music. You might describe music by referring to the:

  • Country of origin
  • Style of the music
  • Instrument making the sound
  • Purpose of the music

Some examples of descriptive words for music which tell the kind of music are:

southern, western, country, easy listening, progressive, new age, retro, blues, choral, rhythm and blues, hip hop, instrumental, ambient, sacred, march, reggae, steel drum, organ, rock, heavy metal, disco, classical, baroque, romantic, renaissance, ceremonial, folk, bluegrass, Celtic, electronic, anthem, ballad, Hawaiian, lament, and lullaby.

How Music Sounds

Timbre is the term for the color of music, the sound of it. For example, a cello and a clarinet may both play the same note at the same volume, but you would still be able to differentiate between the music made by each. It is a combination of frequencies that makes up the individual sounds; that is the color of the tone.

Some descriptive words for music in relationship to timbre are:

loud, soft, brassy, gentle, romantic, melodious, raucous, strong, eerie, spooky, rhythmic, choppy, noisy, mellow, shrill, reedy, clear, breathy, rounded, full, thin, piercing, strident, harsh, warm, resonant, dark, bright, heavy, light, and flat.  

Effects of Music

Music is a big part of our lives. We use it for special occasions and to set the mood in movies and television shows. Music can help us pass the time or connect us to our roots. Listening to music takes the whole brain, and has many positive and beneficial effects.

  • Heals - Music can reduce chronic pain and improve depression. It does this by making the body release endorphins, slowing the breathing and heart rate, distracts the patient, and helps give the patient a feeling of control. It can strengthen the immune system and reduce blood pressure.
  • Makes you smarter - Music can help you learn better in reading, math, and reasoning skills. It can also improve memory. Certain types of music stimulate both sides of the brain, thereby enhancing learning, concentration, and retention. Musical training improves memory even more than just listening.    
  • Improves physical performance - There is a reason why you see people running while listening to their iPod. Music decreases fatigue and improves motor reflexes. It can help people with movement disorders.
  • Improve productivity - Certain kinds of music lessen fatigue. Music can increase productivity by making workers mentally sharper.
  • Calms - Music can calm and relax. It reduces stress and negative emotions.  It can also help you meditate.
  • Improves moods - Music can lessen depression. Research is proving what many cultures have known; that music heals and has positive psychotherapeutic uses.

Here are some words that describe what music can do to you and for you:

soothe, excite, relax, stimulate, meditate, calm, enlighten, frighten, give a feeling of foreboding, help you re-focus, invigorate, rejuvenate, stir your imagination, make you happy, lift your mood, restore, cure, heal, empower, stir, incite, lift your spirits, make you more alert, exhilarate, and bring about practically any emotion.  

In summary, music is a lot more than a soundtrack to our lives; it is an integral part of our lives. Can you imagine a movie without some music? Would there even be entertainment without music? If you want to be healthy and smart, then music is the key. What people have known since ancient times is now being proven by research. Music is good for the body and soul.

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Descriptive Words for Music

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There are many kinds of music, many ways to describe it, and many ways it affects us.

Essays that analyze music

Essays that analyze music are very much like other kinds of essays, except that they contain specific, technical information about the work or works that you are writing about. Normally, you should do the analysis first before you write the essay. It is a good idea to begin by creating any musical examples that you will include with the essay. Then write an outline and decide on your main analytical points before you begin to write. Clear writing about music depends on the clarity of the ideas you have and want to express.

As a first step, be sure that you know the piece. Play it if possible, or else listen to one or more recordings until you can look at the score and hear the piece in your “inner” ear. Then begin to analyze the piece: the analytical method(s) you use will depend on the work’s period, style, form, and performance genre, and will also depend on the assignment that the professor has given.¬† Depending on the assignment, your analysis may involve some research (see Working with sources).

When analyzing any material, you will use the understanding you have gained in the course you are taking, and other courses as well. Bear in mind that an analysis involves making choices, since more than one interpretation may be possible. Try to go beyond your initial impressions to understand the work as fully as you can. Consider whether there are special or unusual features that are significant for the piece: such insights are often very fruitful in analysis.

Once you have created any musical examples you want to include and organize your thoughts into outline form, begin to write. Use appropriate technical terms that will highlight and clarify the points you are making (see Terminology in Music). When quoting or referring to sources, be sure to use appropriate citations (see Citation Styles).

Once you have finished the essay, bear in mind that what you have created is a first draft. Reading it out loud will help you to see how clearly and correctly you have expressed your ideas, and highlight any changes that you need to make. Revision is a necessary part of the writing process: see Drafts, editing, and revision for suggestions about how to revise your work.

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