Music essay

Your papers will be 1000 words minimum to 1500 words maximum, DOUBLE-SPACED. Papers that fall below the minimum word count will receive a 0 score (quotation of lyrics and/or other text does not count toward your total word count, nor does works cited/bibliography). Your ideas need to be presented in clear, correct language with proper punctuation, sentence structure, etc. Use proper citation when necessary and proper formatting when referring to a song title, album title or artist/group (tip: use the text as a model). Communicating clearly and effectively via the written word is an important part of this course. Your writing should reflect a thoughtful approach to the question(s) and a technical proficiency befitting college-level prose. Grading will be based upon content, original ideas, presentation, and technical accuracy.


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As far as citations go, if you feel you need a works cited page or bibliography, you probably do. Use whatever style manual you’re most comfortable with (and do not count the bibliography toward your word count either).

Papers must be submitted by electronic upload to the appropriate drop box IN EITHER WORD OR PDF FORMAT (NO GOOGLE DRIVE DOCS!!) on the due date specified in the course syllabus. No late papers will be accepted. PLEASE DO NOT EVEN ASK! If you are experiencing difficulties uploading your paper, try another browser. Technology is not perfect.

Writing Assignment 3 Prompt:

Music/musicians can be a force for social change and greater awareness in the public-at-large, as we have seen, but it/they can also purvey a form of expression conceived for entertainment purposes only. (Compare the music/activism of U2 and Bono with the music/image of KISS, for example). We’ve discussed songs about subjects as trite as cars, personally expressive love songs, songs about the gritty side of life, songs about dancing/partying, songs about social justice, and so forth. Lyrical content across the rock/pop music spectrum can and does reflect the gamut of human experience. Songs speak to activism, realism, escapism, etc.

I’d like you to critically discuss the importance of lyrical content/song subject matter using the following questions to guide your ideas: Should musicians/lyricists assume responsibility for what they say and how it affects those who hear it? If so, to what degree should this responsibility extend? Are musicians obligated to hold themselves up as role models, activists, purveyors of public awareness, or are they simply there to provide a form of entertainment. If an artist writes about a sensitive or controversial subject is he or she then “on the hook” to be held accountable for any resulting fallout or public backlash? Does composing a song with an important social or political message add legitimacy to the composer as a serious public figure? Should rock/pop/hip-hop musicians be seen as artistic envoys? What are the responsibilities of consumers of music in regard to these issues? To what degree do lyrics matter to you personally?

For your assignment, choose one or two of the above lines of inquiry as a point of entry. You might compare and contrast lyrical content, weigh the impact and importance of lyrics or the lack thereof, discuss musicians who have assumed multiple roles/positions throughout their careers, discuss the various roles outside of music in which certain artists have placed themselves and/or the liabilities artists have had thrust upon them as a result of music that they have written, etc.

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