M502. First paper assignment

Write an analytical essay of 750 words on the aria No. 6 "Ach, ich liebte"  from Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Your paper is due at 5.00PM on Friday, September 17.

Make a musical or musical/textual point about this setting. Please do not write about Mozart, Die Entführung overall, music history in general, or the history of this piece. Start right in with the composition, and stick to an analytical topic about it. Do not simply describe evocative moments of text setting or applaud Mozart's sensitive handling of the dramatic situation, the character, or the sentiments expressed in the text. Make a point about the overall musical construction of the piece.

You could consider the organization of the text (prosody or meaning) in relation to musical organization; problems and issues posed by the text and Mozart's solutions; analytical matters raised by the opening material and consequences later in the piece; the particular ways Mozart uses instruments in relation to the voice; or many other topics.

Whatever you choose (and choose one--do not try to write about everything), make a point that asserts that Mozart did something in particular with a specific result or effect. Do not simply state that certain things happen in the aria.

Some possible ways to begin (first sentences):

In the aria No. 6 in Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio, the composer uses [particular musical techniques] to get [particular musical/textual result].


In the aria No. 6 in Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio, Mozart faces the problem of X. He solves this by doing Y with result Z


The text of the aria No. 6 in Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio suggests X. But instead the composer does Y to get the result Z.

Note that all of these examples start directly with the piece, not with abstractions or generalities; that they name the piece; that they assert something specific and say what the consequences; and that they make Mozart the agent (actor). There are other ways to begin, of course, but make sure your opening is as clear.


Be certain you understand the basic organization of the aria, particularly along the lines we have discussed. Consider making yourself a diagram like the ones we have examined in class. If your analysis depends on your structural view of the aria, make sure you explain it to the reader.


Warning: Arias are not instrumental sonata forms.


Before printing your final draft, go through the guidelines below again and see whether you have observed them. Fix things that need fixing.

Here are some guidelines for writing analytical papers:

1. Make a point. Find something you want to say about the material, state it in the first paragraph, and stick to it. Make sure you end up in the same place that you start.

2. Organize your paper around your point. Present musical evidence to support it. Exclude extraneous material, however fascinating.

3. Write in well-organized paragraphs that have clear roles in your argument. Make certain that each paragraph has an evident topic and contributes to your argument. State the point of your paragraph at its beginning, not at the end as punch line.

4. Start with the assigned music, do some analysis, and then find a point. Go back and round up the evidence that supports your point, find more if necessary, and discard everything else.

5. Make an outline and write from it. When you have completed a draft, re-outline it from the text to see whether its logic is still clear.

6. Do not narrate or simply describe music—make an analytical point about it. Use a diagram if you need to convey the order of events in a piece. Do not supply musical detail until you have first explained why it is worth noticing. Find some way to organize other than going through the piece in measure-number order.

7. In an analytical paper, avoid the temptation of writing about music history or the composer's life, or of giving a capsule history of the genre, or of making sweeping claims about music in general. Write about the piece at hand from the start.

8. Write in musical terms—avoid subjective or purely descriptive words. Write in plain English, though; don't clutter the paper with unnecessary jargon. Do not write about the process (about analyzing, noticing, or "this paper") or that things are interesting or notable; write directly about the piece. Make the composer the subject of many of your sentences.

9. Edit. Read your paper aloud. Choose every word carefully. Jettison each unnecessary word. Stick to the assigned length.

10. Proofread.

11. Use the abbreviations m. (m.6) and mm. (mm.45-48) when citing particular places in the piece.

12. Give your paper an interesting title. Do not be cute, or clever, or cryptic; be interesting.

13. Print the paper double-spaced with one-inch margins in a simple font. Do not put extra blank lines between paragraphs. Do not justify the right margin--leave it ragged. Put your name, the date and the course number at the top of the first page; do not use a title page or a report cover. Number the pages.