While this sample report does basically follow the format guidelines, it is not an “A” paper – perhaps more like an upper C or so. It contains a number of clear deficiencies, especially the inclusion of subjective reactions within the objective descriptions. In many places the paper is a bit weak on the details in the objective descriptions. Regard it as an example of proper format, but not as a definitive guide to content. It would be a good exercise for you to carefully analyze the report for problems that you will avoid in your own paper.
- This sample report is single-spaced to save space. I prefer that you double-space your reports. (1.5 spacing is also acceptable.)
- A pdf version of this sample report is available. It shows what a typical formatted report might look like – but note that it, like the report on this page, is not an A paper, and that it contains some clear deficiencies.
- While the sample report is useful as an example of what the format of a concert report might look like, you should not extract example text from it for inclusion in your own report.
February 7, 1970
Second Concert Report
San Francisco Symphony
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Beethoven: Fourth Symphony
Beethoven’s Symphony #4 in B-flat Major, opus 60 begins with a quiet introduction which has a very slow tempo. The violins play pizzicato. The tempo increases as the brass and the percussion join in. The french horn and the oboe have a solo. The flute and oboe then solo. The composer creates a variation by having a few notes played which are then followed by a rest. This technique is repeated. The intensity decreases and then increases. A clarinet solo is heard near the end of the movement.
[Notice that there is a separate paragraph of objective description for each movement — as there should be. The first paragraph correctly describes only the first movement. The general level of detail in this description is not idea. For example, we know that “a few notes are played,” but we don’t know anything about how those notes are played, by whom, or whether they are a main melody or something else. If it is worth mentioning that “notes were played,” then it is worth offering some description of those notes, too.]
The second movement begins very slowly with the violas and violins playing pizzicato. The oboe plays two notes over and over. The clarinets then come in and play the same two notes. From then on, the movement continues in a similar fashion, although some variations are in dynamics and instrumentation are added.
[This paragraph begins well but seems to sort of “trail off” after the sentence about the clarinets. It becomes very vague and general: “movement continues in similar fashion”, “some variations in dynamics and instrumentation.” It is never enough to simply write, “the music was the same” – you should still offer the narrative description, and in the case of this sample report there should be some actual narrative description of these aspects of the movement.]
The intensity and tempo of the music increase in the third movement, making the music very lively. The oboes and the French horns play a little tune and the strings answer. This tune is repeated throughout the movement. The intensity of the music increases and the movement ends.
[The term “lively” might be a bit subjective, although the explanation that this was due to the “intensity and tempo” helps. Overall, there should be more details about this movement. When the oboe and French part is mentioned, some description of the “little tune” should be offered – was it high/low, loud/soft, long/short, wide/narrow range, and so on? When the writer states that the “tune was repeated throughout the movement,” this suggests that it was exactly the same every time. If so, this should be noted. If not, the changes are worth mentioning.]
The final movement begins with a very lively tempo and great intensity. The piccolo has a solo. Although the intensity and the tempo increase, other characteristics of the music remain somewhat the same. The oboe has a little solo and the intensity decreases, but it then increases again. The oboe plays four solo notes just before the symphony ends with great intensity.
[I’ll bet that by now you recognize that “the piccolo has a solo” does not provide sufficient information – it is important to describe that solo as well as mention that it happened. Note also that this description begins to focus a lot on just two issues – tempo and dynamics. Be careful to offer information about a wide range of aspects of the music.]
I enjoyed listening to this symphony very much. I think it showed the other side of Beethoven very well. I do not like his Fifth Symphony as much since it is more harsh. It is interesting that a man who wrote a forceful symphony like the Fifth could write such a dignified, graceful symphony as his Fourth.
[Notice that there is just one short paragraph of subjective reaction – as there should be – for the whole piece. Do not write separate subjective reactions for each movement of multiple movement pieces and avoid writing overly long reactions.]
Eonta by Xenakis begins with a loud piano solo. The horns come in and play one note. While they hold this note they switch the way they point their horns. Then they all go over to the piano and play. The horns stop playing and the piano solos very softly. The horns sit down and three more horns are added to make eight. The piano plays two notes and then the horns play again. The five horns get up again and play at the piano. Then they sit down for the rest of the work. The entire work features dissonant sounds and seems to have no melodies at all. At one point in the piece it seems as though it will end. It ends a few bars later.
[This student generally did a good job of sticking to the facts in the objective description — especially given the student’s negative opinion of the work expressed in his/her subjective reaction. More details about some of the observations would be useful – what happened in that loud piano solo? When the horns go the piano and play… what do they play? What happens in the music to suggest that it might end?]
My personal opinion of the composition was that it was sick! Perhaps I am being too harsh, but it looked and sounded like a few of the inmates at the local mental hospital were given the use of a piano and eight horns and they had a field day.
[Notice that you DO NOT have to pretend that you like every piece you hear! One thing that might have improved this subjective reaction would be some specific reference to what happened in the music that evoked this reaction. For example, “the piece seemed completely random to me.”]
Elgar: Enigma Variations:
The Enigma Variations, opus 36 is based on variations on one central theme. From time to time the violins play a bright and lively tune using pizzicato. The woodwinds answer or join in and the bassoon and oboes also join in on occasion. Suddenly, without warning, the music becomes solemn and very heavy; funeral march music would be a good description for it. Then it lightens up again for a time. The work is just full of surprises. In one place the music stops and it begins again with loud drums, brass, and the crashing of cymbals. Again the music stops, but now a soft light tune is played. The mood is very eerie at the end of the work as the kettle drums pound louder and louder, then softer and softer. The clarinet solos softly just before the work ends.
[This work has more than 1 movement so there should be separate paragraphs describing each of them. There are also some examples of subjective opinions here, including “the mood is eerie at the end of the work.” As in the earlier examples, this description is, overall, short on details.]
I enjoyed this piece the most of the three. It was enjoyable to listen to as you didn’t really know what to expect next. One minute it would almost make you cry and the next you couldn’t help but laugh.
Quality of Performance:
I enjoyed the concert except for Eonta. I did not get anything out of the work except a headache. I think the other works which were chosen to go along with the piece were very contrasting. It would have been hard to sit through something very heavy after that second piece. I was surprised when they stopped to tune after the first movement of the Beethoven. I thought that it broke the mood of the performance. I tried to listen more this time and write a little less. As a result I believe that I got a great deal more out of this concert than the previous one. I’m glad that I went to a professional concert this time. The quality of the playing was phenomenal.