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You? I? Something Else?

On assignments and papers in Music 1A, generally avoid writing things like, “You can hear the loud trumpet.” When I read that I can’t help but think, “No I can’t!” This is a fine and well-understood way to speak in informal conversation—I’m sure I do it, too—but not in academic writing.

What should you do instead? There are a few possibilities, and the best one depends on the situation.

  • It some cases you could write, “I heard the loud trumpet.” This works in a situation in which writing in the first person is appropriate. For example, you could do this in the subjective reaction sections or the quality of performance section of your concert report.
  • In many (most?) cases it is probably better to use a different approach and write something like, “The trumpet played loudly.” Something like this is almost always better in the objective description sections of a concert report.

I have attempted to consider all of the possibilities here, and sometimes the right choice can be a bit subjective and depend upon context.


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