prepare a listening guide to one of the first five beatles albums 1

For the midterm exam, you will prepare a listening guide to one of the first five Beatles albums
(UK versions):
Please Please Me (March 1963)
With the Beatles (November 1963)
A Hard Day’s Night (July 1964)
Beatles for Sale (December 1964)
Help! (August 1965)
Your listening guide will provide an overview of the album as a whole, and discussions of any
three songs from the album. One of the songs can be a song played and discussed in lecture or in
section, but the other two must be songs not played in class. You will use course material –
historical, musicological, etc. – to create a narrative for understanding the album.
Your overview of the album can include information on the composition and recording of the
songs, but the larger focus should be your overall impressions of the album. You may also
compare any of the songs to other music, from the past or the present. Remember, this is an
exam, not a term paper: in preparing and writing it, you should draw on materials from the first
five weeks of class, including readings, lecture notes, listening, videos, discussion sections, and
the weekly online writing questions. You do not have to do any additional research for this
exam, but if you want to include additional information, make sure to footnote your sources.
Some questions to ask yourself when choosing a focus for your exam include: What do you
think is interesting about this album, what stands out to you? How are the Beatles addressing
their audience? How are the Beatles responding to other music they know? What emotions or
ideas do you hear the songs conveying? What (if anything) do you think the Beatles are saying
about themselves with this album? How does this album relate (or not) to the Beatles’ earlier
work? How does the album cover relate to the listening experience? What do you think a
listener in the 1960s would have thought about this album? What do you think about the album
as a listener in 2019, and how does that compare with what you think listeners in the 1960s
would have heard?
The songs you choose will give you the opportunity to provide evidence for your overview of the
album. Your discussion of each song must include specific musical details, as we have been
discussing them in class. You do not have to account for every element for each song! Instead,
think about what particular musical element(s) contribute to your impression and understanding
of the song.
Musical elements include:
Things composers play with: Meter & Rhythm; Melody; Harmony; Instrumentation (including
voices); Texture; Form; Lyrics/language (see slides, Week 1 Class 1)
Things performers play with: Composer instructions; Training and skill; Timbre (sound
characteristics); Expression (tempo, dynamics, phrasing); Re-arrangement (for covers,
especially forces); Recording techniques (see slides Week 1 Class 1)
And things Listeners play with: Paratexts; existing knowledge (about musicians, other music, etc);
Listening contexts (see slides Week 2 Class 1)
You may of course discuss the lyrics of songs, but make sure to consider purely musical
elements as well. Additionally, your framework for interpreting/understanding the album and its
songs can be based on concepts you know from outside this class, from other classes or fields of
study that seem appropriate, including (but not limited to) gender, sexuality, masculinity/
femininity, race, class, nation (US and/or UK), consumerism, music industry politics, teenage
identity, etc. but it is not necessary to include material from outside this course.
3-5 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, 1 inch margins. For other formatting questions, ask
your TA.
Album: Please Please Me. Songs: Please Please Me, Do you want to know a secret, There’s a Place
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