How to write a music review

On July 1st, 2015, Posted by admin

As part of art and cultural studies, you may find yourself called upon to write music reviews. Even though music itself represents the expression of creativity through sounds, writing a music review requires the same amount of diligence and attention to order and method, just like other academic essays.

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What is a music review?

A music review, is thus, your opinion about a piece of music you have listened to, either as part of a performance or in the form of a recording. Since your music review would be read and analysed by your teachers, you should direct your writing keeping this audience in mind and what are their expectations.

Writing music reviews can be tricky, as music itself has many diverse genres. Music can be vocal or instrumental; it can be classical, semi-classical, light music, regional music, music from different countries and continents, music of the wild. The student must be familiar with the basics of musical theory, different musical styles and kinds of music. It would be of immense help if you are a musician yourself, as you are better able to understand the nuances of music. Knowledge of music history and association of music with other cultural developments of period is a great advantage.

What things should be mentioned in a music review?

The introduction of your music review should highlight the theme of the review and its purpose. You can mention what musical composition/piece/instrument/singer/album you are reviewing and why you are doing it. A brief context would help. The introduction should highlight the key opinion you want to make- the overall impression of the music you listened to and whether you recommend it to listeners.

The next step is elaboration on the music review, which is described in the body of the text. The review can be divided into several portions. You can start with the overall impression of the piece. This is followed by individual aspects of the performance such as the quality of the singers, instruments, supporting instruments. The theme of the musical performance becomes important. Many compositions have an underlying inspiration and there is a context in which they are created. You can discuss the history of the music- whether it belongs to the classical period or to the modern era. The style of singing can be commented upon. Different eras in the period of human history have led to the creation and popularisation of different forms of music. In addition, some music has powerful religious and political significance. Describing the music in all these terms would help create a vivid impression in the minds of readers and they would develop a better appreciation of the music.

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The review can also elaborate the qualitative aspects of the performance- how was the performance? Was it spectacular or ordinary? Was it technically brilliant? Were there any unique aspects about it? What were the lyrics like? Were they meaningful and did they add to the power of the performance? Was the performance varied and did it have different styles? One can describe the feelings generated during the performance.

You can even discuss and compare the previous performance of the singer/group/ensemble/soloist/instrumentalist to the current performance and define as to how it adds value.

In the last, you need to wrap up the various aspects of the performance you found interesting and mention how this particular piece of music is of value to current and future generations.

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