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Program Note Contents
1. Provide basic information on the creator(s) of the work or performance.
"Creator" can be a broad term, depending upon the type of performance. Include relevant details for any persons or groups involved. [If you are creating a recital program as a degree requirement, do write about the composer in your program notes, but include performer bios separately in your program]
- European and American art music: composer and librettist/poet
- Popular music: songwriter, original recording artist, performer(s)
- Traditional music/dance: people/culture from which the work/performance originated
- Dance: choreographers, performers/groups
Be selective and intentional in listing off facts -- include what would be relevant to someone listening, not a full history.
- What is the nationality or cultural group of origin of the creator(s) and performer(s)? If it is traditional music (with no specific known creator), speak to the nature of the cultural group that originated the work.
- Did the creator(s) or performer(s) study under someone important, or have a creative relationship with a prominent group? Who were major influences over the creators?
- Are there unique facts or personal experiences from the creator's or performers' lives in relation to this work?
2. Give the contextual background of the work or performance.
- For Euro-American art music or dance, what year was the work written, and when did it fall during the creator's (composer/choreographer's) career?
- For popular music or Euro-American art music or dance, did a notable performer premiere it or first record it?
- Is this a standard work (jazz), a traditional tune (traditional/folk music), or originally composed? Is this an improvised work or have improvised sections?
- Is the work intended for a specific event, location, tradition, or ritual? When and where did the work premiere or originate? Did some person or group commission the work?
- Discuss the title -- does it have specific meaning or significance? Are there genres, modes, or other terms used in the title (particularly relevant outside of Euro-American art music)?
- Describe any instruments that might not be familiar to the audience. This is especially important for traditional or world popular music.
In the library...
- Search SUMMON for books, e-books, or recordings (i.e. liner notes) about your work or about performances in the style of your performance
- Search music reference sources (Oxford Music Online, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, or Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World) for articles about people, cultures, instruments, etc.
- See additional tabs on this guide for more specific sources from different geographic areas or genres.
- Find reviews of performances in ProQuest Newspapers (New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and others), or search Google
- Search for journal articles in Music Index, RILM, or Music Periodicals Database
3. Describe how the work or performance is related to others of the same style, tradition, movement, or genre.
- Is there a technique used in the work that is also used by a different creator?
- Was this work influential for another creator?
- Is this work a common example of a particular style, movement, or school of composition?
- Describe the genre or style and how it originated.
- Where does the work fit in the canon of work for that instrument or voice type?
In the library...
4. Suggest what the audience ought to listen or watch for in the performance.
- Does the work have a form?
- Anything notable about tempo changes, phrasing, modulations, or other analysis?
- Are there unique sounds, unique choreographic formations, or unconventional techniques? Sections of improvisation?
- Are there characteristic intervals, pitches, tone clusters, or melodic patterns? Characteristic body movements?
- Is there special use of a specific instrument?
- Are there notable differences in interpretation between different performers?
Provide your own analysis by viewing or listening to a live performance or recording, or visually examining the score if available.
In the library...
- Search SUMMON for your type of composition (songs, piano concertos, etc) and the words "analysis appreciation"
- Search SUMMON for CDs to read liner notes for your composition
- Search Alexander Street Music & Performing Arts to locate videos or streaming recordings that are similar to your work
Other Program Contents -- Setnor Performance Programs
1. Performance Header
- Name of sponsoring organization, school, or university
- Recital title (or use solo performer's name if a recital)
- Full date (including year), time, and place
2. Details for each work
- Full work title, appropriate keys, opus numbers, etc.
- Composer's full name with birth/death dates (if a living composer, put (b. YYYY) for year born)
- Movements, song titles, or excerpts to be performed
- Names of performers and instruments/voice type
3. Text translation for vocal music
- Provide an idiomatic translation and the original text
- Set in a two-column format for easy comparison
In the library...
4. Provide biographies for all performers on your recital.
Online Reference for Creators, Genres, and Locations
Oxford Music Online
Good for looking up terms, people, instruments, locations, and styles within Euro-American art music, jazz, American popular music, musical theater, and traditional and folk music from around the world.
Bloomsbury (Continuum) Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World
Good for researching popular music from America and around the world
v.1 Media, Industry, & Society -- Look up social phenomena, such as death, gender, record collecting
v.2 Performance & Production -- Look up names of performance techniques, ensemble types, production roles, equipment, instruments, and harmony, melody, and rhythm terminology
v.3-7 Locations -- Look up names of countries, regions, and cities
v.8-11 Genres -- Look up names of genres/styles
Help with Formatting & Writing
Writing about Music by Where do you place the hyphen in "Beethoven" if it breaks between two lines? How do you cite John Coltrane's album A Love Supreme? Is it "premiere" or "premi#65533;re"? The answers and much more can be found in this definitive resource for authors, students, editors, concert producers--anyone who deals with music in print. Extending the principles devised for the classical repertoires, this revised and expanded edition now includes examples from world music, rock, jazz, popular music, and cinema. This essential volume covers some of the thorniest issues of musical discourse: how to go about describing musical works and procedures in prose, the rules for citations in notes and bibliography, and proper preparation of such materials as musical examples, tables, and illustrations. One section discusses program notes, while others explain the requirements for submitting manuscripts and electronic files, and outline best practices for student writers. An appendix lists common problem words. Updates include greatly simplified citations of Internet locators, the recognition of multiple platforms, and the expectation of paperless transmission and storage of work. Cited as the authority by The Chicago Manual of Style, this classic handbook is the go-to source for anyone writing about music.
Call Number: e-book online
Publication Date: 2014-09-05
Online Resources for Modern Composers
Library of Congress American Music Creators Web Archive
The American Music Creators Web Archive is a collection of websites of musicians, performers, and composers contributing to the American music scene. The collection strives to be representative of all genres of music, including jazz, classical, country, rock, Latin American, hip hop, rap, R&B, blues, EDM, heavy metal, bluegrass and many more. Sites include artists on major labels and those on independent labels or creating music and publishing it online. Biographies, event dates, appearances, music tracks, images, videos, social networks and merchandise are represented on these sites.
Library of Congress Commissioned Composers Web Archive
The LC Commissioned Composers Web Archive includes the professional websites of living and deceased composers, as well as websites of foundations, institutes, museums, and awards established in memory of deceased composers. Archived websites include content that documents composers' careers over time, including biographical information, photos, musical recordings, videos, writings, concert calendars, reviews, social media, upcoming projects, and works lists. Composers represented by websites in this collection are from the United States, Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, and South America.