MLI Step by step http://www.christopherhoddinott.com/mli.html
To Critically Think about the music
Generate - Generate your ideas - make sure you get them down onto paper
Sort - Prioritise your ideas, sort the good from the bad and what are the best to use for your project.
Connect - Connect your ideas together. How do you bring them together to make sense.
Elaborate - Go into the detail of your ideas
Writing about music - Written by Professor Thomas Forrest Kelly
Edited by Christopher Hoddinott
Before You Start Writing Writing about music, like writing about any subject, takes place in stages. “Listening to Music,”. In brief, before developing the thesis and planning the structure of an essay, you need to observe and analyse the music.
Observe - Pay attention to your first impressions. There are some questions you could ask yourself at this stage, so focus on what strikes you most about the music or a section of the music. When you notice yourself responding a certain way, what is happening in the music that seems to cause that reaction?
Here are some examples of areas you might pay particular attention to.
Are there sudden increases or decreases in volume (dynamics)? Does a tune seem to switch from one instrument to another, or from one group to another? How does the music seem to be structured — are there several different sections? Can you count along with the music? Are certain notes or passages repeated over and over again? Does something interesting happen when a particular word is sung? By listening repeatedly and focusing on a different attribute with each hearing, you can build a catalogue of the various (and at first listen, mysterious) elements of a musical work or excerpt.
Analyse - As you are making detailed observations about the music, you can begin to organise them meaningfully. If the melody changes from one instrument to another, if it gets louder or softer at a certain point, if something interesting happens when a particular word is sung, what does that mean for how we understand the work? How do aspects of the piece’s form, or repetitions and variations of sections, contribute to the work’s meaning or function? Analysing the music gives you a framework in which to communicate your ideas. It’s the first step toward developing a plausible thesis or argument about the music.
Planning Your Paper - When it comes time to write your articles, remember that you can’t discuss every detail or even every kind of detail. You may, perhaps, limit yourself to arguing about the ways in which a few musical parameters (like melody, instrumentation, rhythm, dynamics, etc.) affect the piece’s meaning or create a particular experience for the listener. And for the details you do discuss, you must decide whether it is most productive to describe them in chronological order, or in order of their importance. In general, it is best to avoid a play-by-play discussion of musical events. Ultimately, you will need to select, organise, and explain fully only those musical details that connect to your argument. The best papers will propose a thesis or an overarching idea about the music, show how the musical evidence supports the essay’s claims, use appropriate technical and metaphorical language, and refer to sources correctly. They will demonstrate an awareness of likely counterarguments and address them convincingly. The best papers will also make it clear that you have thought about how the interpretations of the first audience differ from yours (or interestingly dovetail with them) by referring specifically to historical materials. Devising a strong thesis is both challenging and crucial to the success of your paper. Excellent arguments constitute concise articulations of an idea that is plausible but arguably (it is not self-evidently true; it must be proven). Avoid obvious and inarguable statements, like “Beethoven’s genius has manifested itself in the brilliant second movement of his 9th Symphony, ensuring its lasting popularity.” This thesis forces a writer to quantify something extremely subjective (genius) and focuses on vague, similarly subjective value judgments. A better thesis would be, “By manipulating the conventions of sonata form in the second movement of his 9th Symphony, Beethoven attacks symphonic tradition – not destroying it, but adapting it to the needs of his time.” That Beethoven “attacks” tradition is entirely plausible but not obviously correct – one can imagine counterarguments that point to Beethoven’s adherence to tradition in many aspects of his music. Another strong aspect of this thesis is the way it links its argument about tradition and innovation to a particular aspect of the music – form – thus paving the way for a paper that uses musical and historical details as its primary evidence in proving the main point. Here are a few more sample theses that accomplish the goals above: Despite many instances in which Berlioz borrows from his other works, the coherence of the program in Symphonie Fantastique remains intact thanks to the thematic unity of the idée fixe and other recurring motives. In Handel’s Messiah, light and dark become musically-represented metaphors for heaven and hell. Throughout The Rite of Spring, Stravinsky exploits the contrasting timbres of solo and ensemble playing to create an orchestral representation of the larger dramatic conflict in the ballet between individuality and collectivity.
Kelly, T.F. (2011) Writing about music: A guide to writing in A & I 24. Available at: http://writingproject.fas.harvard.edu/files/hwp/files/ai_24_guide_to_print.pdf (Accessed: 13 February 2017).