Notes On Quick Musical Assessments / Getting Granular With Musical Influences

As you listen to music, think through these questions:

What is the music’s bpm (beats per minute)? Or is it in free rhythm?

How many parts are there?

What are the music’s most important or foregrounded sounds?

Does the music rely on a lead + accompaniment format?

What processing effects are used? Are they used subtly or obviously?

Does the music sound like real musicians playing, does appear to have synthetic origins, or is it unclear as to how its recording was made and what it purports to represent?

What is the length of the primary chord progressions?

Can you discern the music’s structure after a single listen?
Or is more complicated than that?

Do all of the parts move at the same rate of speed?
Do they change at the same time?

Can you feel the music more than one way at once
(e.g. two beats against three, or happy whilst sad)?

How does the music manage to keep your attention?

Does the music work as ambiance or require deeper engagement?

Can you imagine the music being used to sell a product? If so, how?

Is there something annoying in the music?

What does a water or wind soundscape have that this music lacks?

What stylistic/genre/idiom clichés does the music traffic in?
Does it do this blatantly or unknowingly?

Is the music’s trying to be expressive backfiring?

Does the music offer you any reason to listen to it again?

Does the music conjure anything non-musical? If so, how does it do that?

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