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Music EE - Topic Paranoia

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I've decided on my Music EE topic as "In what ways do the musical aspects of Arnold Schoenberg's "A Survivor From Warsaw" portray the imagery of a Nazi concentration camp?" However, perusing through the criteria and guidelines again, I came upon something that worried me: it stated that I should talk more about the music-related stuff and not induce as much talk about the literary-related stuff. Obviously, my topic gives me clear guidance as to how I can discuss musical features, but there, I've decided to compare it to something that is more literary or historical based. I'm just paranoid that I'll get penalized for this, since it obviously seems to stray away from the music. :/

And I'd ask my supervisor, but my supervisor is rather distant, and I'm not sure if he even owns a copy of the guidelines...

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Well, for one thing, you should really stick with the music subject unless you can analyze every musical aspect and show how it relates to the concentration camps. I have yet to listen to the music, but an example you might find is the song being in a minor key with dramatic rhythm on measure ## as the harsh conditions going through the camp and telling a story of some of the victims there.

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Though it is an interesting topic, try not to argue that "the dramatic rhythm in E Minor emphasizes/tells the story of the Nazi concentration camp victims" because it is all up to interpretation. You want a topic, that does have some leeway/controversy, but if you present all the facts accurately and persuasively, the reader will have no choice but to agree. I did a Music EE, and I had my RQ as "To what extent can [composition name] be classified as a [style of genre]?" as there was much disagreement behind it. My EE mentor said that one girl, that he worked with before, used a lot of "This piece seems like ...etc" or "The staccato rhythm made me feel...etc" and she did very poorly. In short, stick to an argument and back it up with musical anylsis.

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Oh, really? Well, in a way, isn't English all up to interpretation too? I mean, I can say that a certain metaphor of a poem can be a symbol of death, but it could also be interpreted as something completely different too. My English teacher is always stressing the usage of modality to us, so that we avoid using absolutes and end up saying something completely delusional. He went on to say that as long as we can somehow back it up with the text, make it seem logical and say things that the markers are specifically looking for, then it should apparently be fine... but who knows.

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I'm not completely sure, but I'd assume that a little contextural/historical stuff is appropriate...seeing as the piece is so obviously influenced by something it would make sense to explain that 'something' in your essay to give background on it. Having said this, this should probably be very, very brief and the actual analysis of the musical features should be the dominant part of the essay. Having heard the piece I don't think this should be too hard; there are plenty of things to talk about.

If you can't find enough musical features to talk about in the one piece then choose a different one, or maybe widen your question - there are plenty of examples of musical representations of the horrors of war; perhaps you could discuss techniques that do this and use A Survivor from Warsaw as one example?

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My problem from starting right now is still being paranoid as to whether or not my topic is truly valid. I don't want to be utterly penalized because I related the music to my interpretations. Then again, the many instances of where a Nazi concentration camp is evoked within the work is highly evident. Right now, I'm still unsure of whether or not I can make connections between music and the proposed imagery. I really hope my entire essay doesn't end up revolving around "This evidently instills the image of [this] into the mind of the listener," like my IOP did (although I did well on that...).

Yes, there truly are lots of things to talk about; after having listened to the work various times and finally finding a copy of the score, I'm sure that I could go beyond 4,000 words with all I want to say. The only problem now is making sure that I'm actually allowed to say it.

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