Music is a common part of our lives and of our society. We hear music everywhere, from full albums on our CD players and the latest hit singles on the radio to music in commercials, restaurants, elevators, etc.
The basic unit of music in our society is the song. Songs can range from long instrumental ballads and symphonies to short upbeat modern pieces with lyrics. Believe it or not, songs are considered media messages, and so the same media literacy rules apply to songs as to other forms of media.
Below are some things to consider to help us better understand the messages in songs.
Note: You can learn a lot more about this topic by buying our book, Practical Media Literacy: An essential guide to the critical thinking skills for our digital world. You would be supporting our work so that we can bring you more great resources.
1. What does the instrumentation tell us about the song? Is the instrumentation dense, with heavy guitars/drums/bass, forcing us to focus more on it than on the vocals? Or is the instrumentation sparse, perhaps only an acoustic guitar, forcing us to focus on the vocals? Is the tempo fast or slow? Is the instrumentation loud or soft? What emotion does the instrumentation make us feel? Calm? Anxious? Happy? Sad? Instrumentation affects us in a subconscious way.
2. What do the vocals and lyrics tell us about the song? Does the tone of the words fit with the way the singer sings them? Does the tone of the vocals agree with or contradict the instrumentation (do the instruments make you feel happy while the lyrics are sad, for example)? What is the message of the lyrics? Is the song political? How can you tell? Is the song romantic? How can you tell?
3. Who is the target market for the song? What values do the lyrics contain? Does the artist's image (how they portray themselves) affect how you feel about the song? Would you feel the same way about the song if it was sung by someone of a different age, race, or gender? How might someone of a different demographic (someone of a different gender, someone older or younger than you, someone who made more or less money than you, someone with different political values, someone of a different race) hear the song differently.
When analyzing a song, keep in mind that the vocals/lyrics and music are one unit. It's impossible to properly analyze a song by simply reading the lyrics.
Here are some songs that might be worth analyzing.
1965's "Eve Of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (external link to AllMusic.com)
1991's "Black or White" by Michael Jackson (external link to Wikipedia.com)
1990's "Vogue" by Madonna (external link to Wikipedia.com)
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The Perfect Song Analysis Essay
Many people may not think so but a song may be difficult to analyze. The difficult comes in as many people may think a song is music but not, should be like poetry. Music adds another layer of meaning to a song as it is full of literary devices and figurative language. Do not just pay attention to the lyrics alone when writing an essay about a song. Melody in a song just tries to modify the meaning played along with the words. A song should have good language since it can also deliver a message. here is how to write a song analysis paper
Steps to guide you when writing a song analysis essay
- Take time and Listen to the song a few times. Do not think too much about stylistic specifics rather take few minute to listen to the song then write down how the song affects you. Discuss the feeling that you get from the song. Discuss the central theme or the message you get.
- For you to scrutinize the song lyrics more closely get a printout of your song. Consider how the words have been literally scoured, their use, and their effect to the meaning and feel of the song. A songwriter can communicate frustration using song lyric over being down played in a certain deal. Listen to the song again with your list of lyric observations in front of you. Check how the music lines are relating with words. Analyze how the song details enrich the meaning of the lyrics and contribute to the effects of poetic devices as you take notes.
- Research the historical, social and political context of the song. Check if your music is displaying a life experience, world events and the knowledge within, and prevailing attitudes. This might affect your interpretation in quite a big way.
Within the context of the entire album, take the song and study it carefully. Analyze if the artist chose a deliberate progression of songs to convey a message as you closely look at the order of the tune and the words used.
- Using the observations you've gathered, look for a common thread that ties them together. Link your detailed observations to connect your general impression of the song with detailed that you have gathered. The thesis of your essay is in the conclusion part. Identify a specific example that you'll use to support your argument. Eliminate some content to check out the length of your essay.
- Using the regular conventions of essay writing and factor in any special instructions that you have been given, draft your paper. Briefly state your thesis and make an outline your main arguments in the introduction. In the body of your essay discuss your main points. Finally proof read your work.