Midterm essay | English homework help


Midterm Writing Assignment


American Popular Music

Prof. W. Smith

Due Date:  see Canvas

Goal: Students will be able to identify AABA as a song form, the differences in instrumentation in sections of a song, and compare early 20th century songs in AABA form to songs recorded later in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Format: 350-500 words in length, double-spaced, in 12 pt Times New Roman font. There is no penalty for going marginally over the maximum word count, but points will be deducted for being under the minimum word count.

Assignment Part 1:

  1. Pick and listen to ONE of the following AABA songs discussed in Chapter 4 (you may NOT choose “I Got Rhythm”). Available choices: “Blue Skies”, “Another Op’nin, Another Show”, “Deed I Do”. Versions of these are available on YouTube and Spotify.
  2. Provide some background information on the song such as:
  • the names of the composer, lyricist, and one performer
  • the commercial success of that performer’s recording of the song
  • how the song fits with the lyrical topics discussed in other Tin Pan Alley songs
  1. Then give a definition, in your own words, for AABA
  2. Describe the differences between AABA, strophic, and twelve-bar blues song forms.
  3. Discuss all the ways each A is different in your Chapter 4 song choice (a slight change in the melody? New instrumentation? How does the lyric change?)
  4. Discuss all the ways the B section is different, musically and/or lyrically, from the A sections (major key or minor key? Lyric topic changes? New instrumentation?).

Assignment Part 2:

  1. Find a later song that qualifies as being in AABA form, anything from the 1940s up to the present day. (Note that recent popular songs in verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus form qualify as AABA songs with each verse-chorus combination being an A section and the bridge, if there is one, being the B section).
  2. Provide the names of the performer, composer, lyricist, and the year of the song’s release (one version).
  3. Then describe the changes between the sections of this song in the same manner as with your Chapter 4 song choice.

Submission notes: Submit electronically through Canvas as a Word document.


  • Use Chapters 1-5 of your textbook for definitions and background information.
  • Cite your textbook and any other outside courses appropriately using MLA style format. You must use your textbook and may use additional sources if needed (but this is not required).
  • Avoid open-source repository sources such as Wikipedia, coursehero.com, and genius.com.
  • Have at least 80% of the paper be your own words rather than direct quotations.
  • Include citations within the paper as well as a bibliography at the end.

General writing notes:

  • Avoid first-person (use of “I”, “we”, “my”, “our”) and second-person (“you”, “your”, “you’re”) because this is a research essay. The tone should not be of a conversation or social media post but of a presentation.
  • The purpose of a research essay is to gather information and present it in an organized way to make a point.
    • Avoid just a dry list of facts.
    • Avoid including opinions and reactions (“I liked the song because…” or “the song made me think this…” for example).
  • Describe the songs specifically via the correct use of music terminology that has been defined in class. Avoid unspecific words like “smooth”, “mellow”, “flowy” and “vibe”.
  • If you’re unsure that you’re using a musical term correctly, consult your notes, the textbook, the Canvas lecture materials, or your instructor. Do not include a musical term until you’re sure of its meaning. Otherwise, it can result in an unclear sentence that is just as confusing to the instructor as it is to the student.
  • Describe the song sections in the most specific detail available.
    • Example of a general description to be avoided: “The song is in a minor and major key.”
    • Example of a specific description: “The A sections of the song are in the key of G major, but the key changes to G minor during the B section.”

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