One of the requirements in this class is writing a brief, original, research paper that includes a modest proportion of critical analysis; no paper will receive an “A” without originality and critical analysis. The above page limit does not include bibliography, supporting appendices, discographies, etc. Please click here for a one-page description of the grading criteria, i.e. what papers will receive an “A,” “B,” and so on.
In your final written assignment you are to examine one song that fits your own criteria of “country music” and provide the following:
1. A brief background of the song and its artist, e.g. date of release, album, artist’s bio (very brief)
2. An in-depth analysis of the song’s musical features (melody, harmony, rhythm, form, texture, instrumentation, dynamics)
3. What features make this song distinctively “country” and, most importantly, why?
Appropriate content: you must write what the assignment asks for, as specified in these written instructions. If you write something that isn’t what the assignment asks for, it doesn’t matter how well you do it: you won’t get credit.
Correct physical form: in addition to the criteria for “format” discussed above, physical form includes the proper use of paragraphs with indentation to show where a new paragraph begins, and overall neat appearance of the page with a straight left margin and without weird effects such as line breaks in the middle of a word. Print out your assignment before the day it is due to make sure that the computer does not produce these unwanted effects: printer problems will not be accepted as an excuse. Remember also that you must include the appropriate grading table at the top of each assignment. Papers must also be stapled, and typed, using a 12 pt Times New Roman font, which is standard for most academic papers.
Appropriate style: This is a common problem among undergraduate students. Keep in mind that this is NOT a creative writing assignment. Use vocabulary and sentence structures suitable for an academic report, avoiding colloquial language and slang. Keep your prose clear, concise, and supported by data.
Correct spelling and typing are required, including spelling of terms and names introduced in the class. Run the spell check after making all other revisions, and don’t rely on it exclusively: it will not detect errors like writing “from” instead of “form” because “from” is also a word. Proof-read your work for yourself as well. Spelling also includes word boundaries (leaving a space between words and not writing two words as if they were one).
Correct punctuation includes the use of apostrophes (make sure you know the difference between possessive its and it’s = “it is”) and the proper use of spaces with punctuation (note that you leave a space before open-parentheses and open-quotes but after most other punctuation marks). The most common errors of punctuation concern sentence boundaries: writing two or more sentences as if they were one (‘run-on sentences’) or writing part of a sentence as if it were a whole one (‘sentence fragments’). Make sure that what comes between the capital letter and the period is a single complete sentence. Correct capitalization of proper names and abbreviations is also included in punctuation.
Correct grammar includes subject-verb agreement (if the subject is plural, the verb should be in the plural form too) and using the correct form of a word (for instance, make sure you know the difference between sing, sang, sung, and song).
Citation format: You must correctly cite information, ideas, and other relevant information that are not your known (see Syllabus for examples of plagiarism). For the purposes of the above written assignments, you must cite your sources in the form of footnotes. A simple bibliography page will NOT suffice. Your footnote citations must include the following information and in this order: author’s name (last, first), date of source, title of source, publication info on source (e.g. publisher’s name and city, journal title and volume/number, website url (including the date accessed by you), and page numbers, if applicable. A quick rule to remember: your citations must include all information that will allow your reader to consult your source in a timely fashion.
Example footnote citations:
1Reid, Shaheem. (no date given). “Eminem: The Gift and the Curse.” [http://www.mtv.com/bands/e/eminem/news_feature_052902/index.jhtml]. Accessed 5 May 2003.
Book by a single author:
2 Farrell, Gerry. 1997. Indian Music and the West. Oxford, UK, and New York: Oxford University Press: 25-26.