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Critical Listening Skills Assignment for Music Examples from Bakan Text


This assignment encourages you develop critical listening skills, reflect on and respond to some of the musical examples associated with the Bakan text, and consider perspectives and concepts from chapters 1-3.

After completing the course’s initial assignments that focussed on your own understanding of music and experience listening to it, this assignment develops skills in objective analysis, critical thinking, and expression through written presentation.

Choose one musical example from each group and respond to the questions or characteristics assigned to it. To help you make your selection, please first listen to all three tracks listed in each group. In total, you will select and respond to three examples.

Your responses must be original and stated in your own words, but you are welcome to refer the Bakan text when preparing them.

For each of the examples you select, clearly state the group number, playlist number, track number, and track title (e.g., Group 1, PL 1-8: Calluna Vulgaris) before providing
your response to the questions or characteristics.

PL 1-1: Surat Al-Mulk (verses 1-12)
PL 1-8: Calluna Vulgaris
PL 1-9: Blackbird: Song

Question for Group 1: In 2-3 paragraphs, use Bakan’s Five Propositions as a framework for arguing whether or not the example you selected is considered “music.” Please include references to each of the five Propositions in your response.

PL 2-1: Bomba Plak
PL 2-9: Dance
PL 2-35: Kargyraa Moan

Question for Group 2: In 2-3 paragraphs containing no more than four sentences each, explain how the characteristics and broader context of the example you selected reveal
the music’s meaning and contribute to the identity of its creators or performers.

You may wish to consider characteristics such as the sounds, instruments, and voices featured in the example; the language in which lyrics are spoken or sung; the genres or combination of genres featured in the music; and the culture, society, nation, or nationstate from which the example comes.

PL 1-5: In a Landscape
PL 2-1: Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
PL 3-13: African Jembe Drums of Sierra Leone

Questions for Group 3: For the examples in this group, please respond to the questions associated with the following two characteristics. Your response to each characteristic
may be no longer than one paragraph / four sentences.

  • Is this music metered (i.e., measured), or non-metric (i.e., in free rhythm)? Provide an explanation to support your response. If the example features both metered and non-metric sections, please mention this and note when these sections take place.
  • If you have determined that the music is metered, or predominantly metered, state the type of meter you hear (e.g., duple, triple, quadruple)
  • What sounds (i.e., instruments or voices) or other characteristics specifically support the establishment of meter in this music? Use categories from the

Hornbostel-Sachs classification system (and explained on our Introduction to Organology handout) to support your response, and only include an instrument’s specific name (e.g., “electric bass”) if you are absolutely certain it is the instrument featured on the recording.

  • Describe the durations in this example and state why they are might be chosen, structured in the way they are, or appropriate for this music.
  • State the most common type of subdivisions that you hear. These could be duple, triple, quadruple, or another type of subdivision altogether.

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