Sample Essays    


At the end of Chapter 5, it is recommended that the reader write an essay on applying spectrograms to analyze music.  When we use our book in a course, we assign this essay as a final project for the class.  Consequently, we require that students also include some analysis of the chords in part of the score of the music, and also that they use a clock diagram to analyze some part of the rhythm from the score.   Here are some good examples of essays: 

Quantitative Emotion in Avett Brother's  ''I and Love and You''  This essay analyzes a popular song. It handles spectrogram images very well, using them to make good points about the music, and displays them with good cropping and graphical markups.  See Figures 1, 3, 4.1, 6, 7, and 8.  It includes basic chord progressions with accompanying score excerpts.  See Figures 4, 4.1, and 5.  There is a rhythm clock diagram with accompanying score excerpt. See Figures 2, 2.1. It also has a YouTube link for the recording.

Analysis of Mozart's "Confutatis"  This essay analyzes a portion of a classical composition by Mozart.  It handles spectrogram images very well, using them to make good points about the music, and displays them with good cropping and graphical markups. The figures are not numbered; it would be preferable if they were. Nevertheless, they are easy to spot and do have captions.  It includes a score excerpt with some basic chord progressions.  Again, its location is easy to spot. There is a beautiful  rhythm clock diagram, displaying both rotational and reflective symmetries. The essay includes a Spotify link for the music, although a YouTube link would be preferable.

Comparison of two versions of "Down on the Corner"  This essay compares two different versions of the popular rock song, "Down on the Corner."  It also handles spectrogram images very well, using them to make good points about the music, including an interesting comparison of the differing qualities of the music in the two versions.  It displays spectrograms well, including good cropping and graphical markups.  It includes a score excerpt, some basic chord progressions, and a rhythm clock diagram. 

Independent Study Essays    The following two essays were done as more extensive Independent Study projects by two honors students.  So they are about twice as long as the essays above.  But they are well worth studying, even when considering a smaller size essay, as they have great illustrations of how spectrograms should be displayed and what they can tell us about the music, plus several excellent rhythm clock diagrams.

Analysis of ''Beatbox Flute''   This essay analyzes a delightful combination of a flute accompanied by ''beatboxing'' vocal percussion.  Its first spectrogram, on page 1, shows the overall form of the piece in one graphical image.  That is not always possible, but here it provides a great example of something a spectrogram can do for us.  In Figure 2a on page 3, there is a nice illustration of some details from the score.  There is a well done chord identification in Figure 2b on page 3.  There are excellent rhythm plots in Figure 3 on page 4 and Figure 4 on page 6, with pretty symmetry properties for both the flute rhythm and the beatbox rhythm.  There is also a good spectrogram in Figure 8 on page 10, with excellent graphical markups showing the harmonics of a C-major chord.

Analysis of ''Kol Nidrei"  This essay analyzes a classical duet between viola and piano. It has some great spectrogram analysis in Figures 3.1 and 3.2 on page 5, and in Figure 6 on page 8.  A very nice example of a relationship between vibrato and rhythm is discussed on pages 11 and 12. The inclusion of vibrato changes the rhythmic aspect of a note, and that alters the rhythm plot, lending it much greater symmetry.  There is also an interesting connection between a portion of the rhythm in the piece and the Euclidean Algorithm on page 11. The Euclidean Algorithm will not apply to all rhythms in music, but it was quite nice to see it in this piece.