Interpreting Popular Music

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Your assessment in this module gives you an opportunity to work with a
specific methodology for the analysis of affect in music. Toward that end, you
are required to write a semiotic analysis of a piece of popular music
demonstrating your understanding of and application of this particular
Select a suitable piece of around 3 minutes length. This can be a pop song or
instrumental, a bit of film music (for example title music), the soundtrack to
an advertisement, the soundtrack to a party political broadcast, or other. But
before you start, please check with us to make sure your selection is suitable.
A suitable piece is one with a significant amount of musical incident and
detail. Music in which little happens, so to speak, may be less amenable to this
kind of analysis; so pick something with a reasonable amount of activity and
incident to discuss.
Your discussion will focus specifically on the sign action in the music,
including general signs identified by Peirce (icon, index, and symbol) and
particularly the specifically musical signs identified by Tagg (anaphones, style
indicators, episodic markers, transcansion, synecdoches, etc.) as well as any
important musical topics. Make good use of the technical terms and
interpretive strategies introduced in the module.
Your submission will include:
? A detailed musical transcription of each important museme in
conventional notation
? A recording of the music and extracts highlighting important items of
? A written analysis discussing the musemes in relation to IOCM and the
PMFA. This analysis will be 2000-2500 words in length. As the subject
matter of this module is musical affect, you will be expected to move
beyond mere description of musical events to inferences concerning
our emotional and physical responses to the music and toward
interpreting this material within its wider cultural and ideological
Use font size 12 and double space the essay. Do not change fonts for
quotations. Make sure the essay has a clear introduction, a systematic form,
and a summarizing conclusion. Provide a bibliography and a discography
and cite sources within the text using Harvard-style citations (authors
surname, publication year, page number).

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