How to Critique a Song

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Critiquing a song is a great way to improve your understanding of the elements that make music. Those with a talent for song critique may even find work for a newspaper or media journal offering music criticisms. The best critiques will focus on several aspects of musical performance. Including each of these aspects in your critique will ensure that you have a complete and thorough review of the music.

  • Discuss the lyrics and how they relate to the music. If the lyrics are upbeat, but the music is depressed, this may show a lack of collaboration between the songwriter and the lyricist. Look for any hidden meanings in the song, and attempt to explain the motivations of the song in simple, easy-to-understand terms.

  • Define the music and try to identify a specific style. There are several genres of music and listeners need a frame of reference to understand the type of music critiqued.

  • Listen for intonation problems or musicians playing out of tempo. These signs indicate that the group is an amateur group, which should be noted in the critique.

  • Describe the melody in detail. Talk about whether it maintains primarily stepwise motion or uses large skips and leaps. Stepwise motion helps to create clarity, but too much of it will dull the music. Skips and leaps create variety, but too many skips and leaps create an unintelligible song.

  • Analyze the chord progressions in the piece. Talk about any unusual chords that deviate from the traditional major, minor, augmented, diminished and seventh chords used in music. If you do not know these chords, take a course in music theory to gain a greater degree of professional competence.

  • Tell the reader about the mood and atmosphere of the song. Describe the mood whether it is sad, hopeful, melancholy or joyous. Give the reader a good indication of what the song sounds like even if they have never heard the song before.

  • Include a discussion of the strengths and the weaknesses of the song. Did the song have strong rhythms that propelled the piece forward or was the melody extremely lyrical and expressive?

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