Guidelines for Analysis:

 

1.      Listen to and/or play the piece several times. Develop a point of view, an opinion, about how the piece is constructed, about whether or not you like it, and why.

 

2.      Determine the phrase structure and the primary points of articulation – the piece’s sections -- and identify cadences by type and key, where appropriate.

 

3.      Find the primary motivic and/or thematic material(s).  Bracket or label these on the score and trace the appearance and transformations, if any, of the motivic material(s) through the piece.

 

4.      Analyze the harmonic structure, in both large- and small-scale (beat-to-beat) dimensions.  What are the primary tonal areas of the piece?  Observe and identify melodic and/or rhythmic figuration -- the best analysis is not always a Roman numeral!

 

5.      Start refining your focus, dealing systematically with issues of form (phrase structure, cadential articulation, textural change), harmony (from the large to the small scale, where appropriate and interesting), melodic content (consistently monophonic, compound melodic, or chordal in nature?), registral behavior, time issues (rhythm, meter, tempo), and again, "mood," which is effected by the behaviors and interactions of all other elements.

 

6.      Observe and comment upon exceptional, unusual, unexpected, or eccentric phenomena.  What are they?  Why are they there?  What musical/expressive purpose do they serve?

 

7.      Other remarks: look again at the treatment of register, dynamics, articulation, rhythm, texture, instrumentation/tone color... these are sometimes the most interesting aspects of a piece. Do any of these help to place the work in a particular historical or stylistic context?

 

8.      If the work is texted, consider the ways in which the music supports the meaning of the text, and vice versa.