After students have completed Step One of the Musical Links Investigation (MLI) Guide, it is time for the heart of the MLI, the inquiry of the musical analysis links.  The MLI’s focus is on critical analysis and comparison/contrast of specific musical analysis links in your chosen pieces.   The Musical Links Investigation must be YOUR musical analysis and not rely solely on other sources. You may use parts of published analysis found in your research. This analysis must be attributed to the source in the body of the work and listed in the bibliography or works cited section.

If you are interested in an in-depth view of the MLI, please see the course offered through Oxford Study Courses.  The course is offered annually in October 2017.

Criterion B, the most heavily weighted criteria in the rubric, describes the level of analysis necessary:

Criterion B: Analysis and Comparison Of Musical Elements

This criterion concerns the your ability to analyze and examine, compare and contrast musical elements (such as duration, pitch, timbre/tone colour, texture, dynamics, form and structure) and their significance in the chosen examples. It is marked from 0 – 6. (MUSIC GUIDE, page 37)

Ideas for practicing analysis throughout the school year

  • Complete assigned listening journals using analysis charts.  THE MORE LISTENING ANALYSIS YOU CAN DO THROUGHOUT THE COURSE, the more likely you will develop the necessary skills to do a comprehensive, thorough microanalysis for the MLI.  Assignments can consist of listening analysis to be completed as homework can be weekly or biweekly.
  • Keep completed listening charts throughout your SL and HL year.  This will include listening charts from class activities as well as independent homework. With a cursory glance, you can find pieces with similar underlined or starred compositional features.

Analysis Guides

You have already used the Venn Diagram and a narrative analysis to confirm your musical links.  Below are guides to assist your analysis of aurally identifying the musical elements with the correct music terminology.

  • An IB Music Microanalysis Guide      

Here is an intensive guide I developed for my more advanced students. Use this guide to discover the importance of relationships among the elements of music. For example, the process of discovering the form of a piece includes analyzing elements of change, repetition or variation as well as their relationship to harmony, melody, dynamics, rhythm, etc.

IB Music Microanalysis Guide

  • Basic Analysis Chart

The adapted chart below is shared material which accompanies the textbook, “The Enjoyment of Music” by Forney and Machlis.   This is based upon . You could begin by writing in definitions and using this as a guide for the analysis of your pieces.

  • Analysis Guide using ME-ME-HA-ME-FA and more

These guides use Melody-Meter-Harmony-Medium-Form-Developmental Devices-Rhythm as an organizing device.


Style Analysis MMHMFSC

Tips for Writing a Detailed Analysis

Using the terminology from the rubric, the MLI “demonstrates highly effective description, analysis and examination of the musical elements…. well-focused comparison and contrast.” Your musical links are the thesis of your paper; the supporting evidence of these links needs to include in-depth analysis and location of the musical events using sustained reasoned argument. IN OTHER WORDS, DIG DEEP!!! Leave no stone unturned! Demonstrate your engagement with the music.

In-depth, sustained analysis contains:

  1. Supporting musical examples are examples or evidence of your chosen musical analysis links. These examples clearly detail representative locations using extensive music terminology. To receive the highest marks in Criterion C, “ the work consistently displays good knowledge and use of music terminology.”
  2. All musical examples events are clearly labeled with instruments/voice, location, why and how this is evidence. Strive to find at least two representative locations in each piece.
  3. Evidence is crucial to the success of the MLI and demonstrating your understanding and engagement with the music. Supporting points can be highlighted by:
    1. notation
    2. transcription
    3. optional recorded audio excerpts burned on a CD
    4. illustrations including diagrams, graphs and charts
    5. structure and form can be made into comparative lists, etc

Tip: Transcribe the music example or insert score notation for the specific measures of musical analysis link, not entire sections or scores unless you want to.

  1. Most importantly, use your critical thinking to provide a reasoned argument using music terminology to discuss evidence displayed. HOW AND WHY does this represent the link?*
  2. Articulate relationships and interrelationships between the melody, the structure, the harmony, etc using your knowledge of music terminology. Has the music been analyzed melodically, harmonically, structurally, rhythmically, etc ? See the IB Music Microanalysis Guide found above as your guide.

*MOST IMPORTANT, whether the musical example is student transcribed, inserted from a score or an audio example on an attached CD, you must analyze its MUSICAL CONTENT.   This analysis and its relevance must be discussed in the body of the MLI. Too often music examples are inserted in the script or on an accompaniment CD but the MLI does not clearly articulate the location and specific musical device. The examiner will not do the analysis for you. Eg: ‘In this piece you can hear imitation.’ An example of a correct analysis could be ‘In this piece you can hear the eighth note motive from the first theme imitated between the violins and the cellos from 1:20 – 1:43…..’ and is found in measure 2 of the inserted notation in Fig. 1. Musical examples cannot be a substitute for the candidate’s written analysis. Good musical examples include the specific location or notation of where the musical link or musical event occurs as well as a detailed written description.

Start Writing Your Analysis

Using what you have learned, write your analysis.   Remember in your first paragraph, list the musical links clearly and the names of your selected pieces. It is crucial the examiner understand the exact name of your musical analysis links. Keep a list of all sources you use for your analysis to be included in your bibliography or works cited page as well as discography. This includes sources for definitions and understanding musical elements. Be sure to keep track and cite the use of all primary and secondary sources.

Here’s your checklist for the analysis section: