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Overview of assignment: The Social Commentary paper is a combination of critical thinking and research. However, only the second section, Discussion of the Social Issue, requires any research. In fact, no other outside information should be used in any of the other sections, just your ears and your brain.
1500 words, minimum. *NOTE: quoted material (lyrics, sources), headings, titles and references are not counted as original writing. In that light, you should aim for a total of roughly 1650+ words.
The writing and review process: There are five* sections to the paper:
Discussion of the Social Issue
Comparison of Songs
Music/Lyric Connection
    *Main written sections, the 6th section is References (see below).
This paper will be written in three stages before the final submission is graded by your instructor. Each of these stages undergoes a self assessment AND peer assessments on Canvas by you AND the other members of your group. After these three stages, you will submit the final paper to Turnitin.com through Canvas, using the link found in a folder Upload Links to TurnItIn. Only then will it be read and graded by your instructor. This gives you some freedom to affect changes, like swapping out one or both songs, or even change your original social issue to another. The self review process is an important step, as you learn a lot by being critical of your own writing, guided by a survey, specifically designed for each of the stages.
Assignment workflow for self/peer-assessment:
First you will write sections 1 and 2, the Introductory Paragraph and the Issue Discussion. Each student will submit these two sections (as a single document) to the Files tool of their Group on Canvas (see syllabus for more information on groups). Once submitted, each paper will be self-reviewed AND peer-reviewed by all other members of that group using the provided online survey. (Your instructor will post each survey link as necessary). After each assessment is completed, the results from that survey go directly via email to the student who was the subject of the survey.
The second part you will write is section 3, Comparison of Songs. The process for assessment and rewriting will be the same as for the previous Introductory Paragraph and the Issue Discussion. This should be the single largest section of the paper, therefore it should be in multiple paragraphs.
The third part you will write are sections 4, 5 (and 6) the Music/Lyric Connection and the Conclusion (plus References). The process for assessment and rewriting will be the same as for the first two stages.
Upon completion of the three peer reviews and subsequent rewrites, the Completed Social Commentary term paper can be assembled and edited. Remember that the already completed sections of the paper must be included in their correct places in the final paper which will be submitted to Turnitin.com through Canvas (your instructor may choose a different place or method for submission)
Your instructor will grade the paper and post the grade on Canvas. At that time you may opt to meet with your instructor for clarification and explanation of your earned grade. (Cont. below)

Instructions for Writing Social Commentary Term Paper Comparison & Opinion: 1650 words
In this paper, you will choose two songs, each from a different artist (or band), preferably from a different genre, and compare how they address a single topic of broad social interest (social issue).
Nature of Assignment
This is a formal writing assignment, requiring a lot of critical thinking, third-person declarative prose AND some research (sources).
Critical thinking: about what the songs have to say on the issue.
Third-person declarative prose: Writing as a declaration of a truth or truths, without reference to self nor reader (no I, me, my, mine, you, or your).
Sources: 2 minimum (described below) for the social issue discussion, that you are required to include in a bibliography, and cite at the points they are used in the discussion of the issue. DO NOT use an artists song/performance video as a source for discussion.
Social Issues
Issues of broad concern such as, the environment, natural or manmade disasters, child welfare/abuse/neglect/molestation, domestic violence, rape, abortion, gang violence, class warfare, war, terrorism, propaganda, politics, national image, military service, religion*, racism, racially-motivated violence, slavery, human trafficking, materialism, among others, are acceptable. In some cases, songs of a more personal nature are acceptable if they speak to a broad audience. Topics such as mental illness, loneliness, drug or alcohol abuse (substance abuse) would fall into this category. Generally speaking, songs about love, sex, cars, the joys of rock and roll, or sports are not acceptable. Topics so general as to include everyone, like death, should be covered from the standpoint of the issues surrounding it; survivors dealing with a loved ones death, or views on the after-life are acceptable. When in doubt, consult your instructor. *There are songs in any given faith whose purpose is to connect to the faithful (ex. hymns, worship or praise songs, liturgical singing). These would be inappropriate. Songs that address various issues surrounding faith would be appropriate.
NOT ACCEPTABLE as an issue Music, music business, artists, groups, genres or any historical perspective on music used to protest or bring attention to things. This is where a few students misinterpret the title of this assignment (without reading these instructions) and assume that this paper is on the subject of social-commentary music. It is not. It is about two specific songs that are centered on one specific issue.

Selecting your songs Choose two songs that have the same social condition or issue at their core. They do not have to take the same position, or even have a position, but it should be fairly evident that the same issue is embodied in both. Further, the two songs should be written or performed by different artists, each from a different genre of popular music. Other than introducing an artist as hard rock or hip-hop, no further discussion of genre need ensue. If you are unsure, you should ask your instructor. (see list below of songs to never use)
Songs NOT to use Dont use songs whose scope is so broad as to touch on many issues and not really center on a single issue. Any song that attempts to point out all the worlds problems and/or solutions to them is unsuitable for this paper. The following are examples, though not a comprehensive list. Some songs have just been overused.

Any song used in the Understanding the Music/Lyric Connection module or tutorial video
Alyssa Lies Jason Michael Carroll
Changes Tupac
Courtesy Of the Red, White and Blue Toby Keith
Face Down Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Heal The World Michael Jackson
If I Ruled The World Nas
Imagine John Lennon
Love the Way You Lie Eminem/Rihanna
Real People Common
War Edwin Starr
We Are The World USA For Africa (Jackson, Richie, et al)
Whats Going On Marvin Gaye
Where Is The Love The Black Eyed Peas
Words I Never Said Lupe Fiasco

Structure Your paper will be divided into five sections each with a heading in bold-face. (Use bolded headings below, an explanation of each follows) All sections of this paper will be submitted on Canvas for peer review using the procedure and sequence described above. (See course schedule for due dates.) 

Sect. 1- Introduction
Sect. 2- Issue Discussion
Sect. 3- Comparison of Songs
Sect. 4- Music/Lyric Connection
Sect. 5- Conclusion
Sections 3 & 4 will each be more than one paragraph long, while section 2 may be one or two. Avoid long and unstructured paragraphs. Sections 1 & 5 should be a single paragraph. Follow content guidelines below for each section:
This is the opening paragraph. It should be concise and to the point, while giving the reader a good sense of what they are about to read. Avoid giving the reader too much detail here. Include the following:
introduce topic issue, being as clear as possible to identify or define the issue. If you cannot name the issue in four words or less, you may need to refine it. Do NOT get into specifics here, one statistic reference, max, if any.
introduce the songs and the artists, including album references and release years (see class text appendices B & C for text formats of song and album titles.)
include a statement for each song describing its connection to the issue, without going into detail. Briefly describe the story or narrative of each. Simply claiming that the songs deal with an issue is inadequate.
a reference to a relationship between music & lyrics (ref. to Sect. 4, Music/Lryic Connection) Since there will be a section of the paper on this critical thinking element, there should likewise be a reference to it.
A strong thesis central point to be borne out in paper. The thesis is a clearly defined statement of intent, which includes the salient points that will have been addressed in the paper.  Your thesis should be a summary idea, not a question or a list of what you are going to write about in the paper. Imagine having already written the paper and creating a single sentence statement defining what the reader should expect to learn. If it seems like a challenge, you are doing it right.
A discussion of the social issue more than just your opinion or general knowledge. This is where your 2 (or more) sources come in. Here you can describe the issue in more detail, separate from the songs discussion of it.  You are expected to demonstrate critical thinking here. Simply pasting in some text from a website does not constitute original thought. You will be evaluated on how well you synthesize what you have gleaned from your research. Regardless of how other disciplines cite sources, we expect a citation referencing the bibliography, every time you quote or otherwise use information from that source. (FYI-This is NOT the case for lyrics, see discography below) This section should NOT be longer than sections 3 or 4. If it is the longest section, then you have missed the point of the assignment.
A comparison of the songs and their respective takes on the issue, whether it is an outright strong position, or a declarative, matter-of-fact approach. Keep in mind that the SONGS are ultimately the subject of the paper. Though the two songs have the same social condition or issue at their core, they do not have to take the same position, or even have a position. It should be fairly evident that the same issue inspired both.
NOT ACCEPTABLE: Any discussion of the artists motivation/inspiration for writing or recording the song. We are ONLY interested in what the lyrics have to say (to you) on the issue.
Effective use of lyric quotations is key to helping the reader make the connection to the subject (see below for information on citing lyrics). Long blocks of lyric, however, or entire verses are seldom necessary and are often cumbersome. If you feel the entire chorus is germane to your argument, then at least break it up into digestible parts, with some discussion inserted. Use sufficient lyric quotes to bring reader into the song, but not so many it dilutes their potency.
Comparison in this assignment means specific, direct, side-by-side comparison of the ideas at hand. Integrate the discussions of how each song addresses the issue throughout this section. DO NOT discuss songs separately. You will lose a minimum of a full letter grade if this discussion is not integrated.
Describe the Music/Lyric Connection. A minimum two examples per song explaining how the music supports/enhances the meaning of each song (four total examples). Please see section below, *Examining the Music/Lyric Connection, as well as the Understanding the Music/Lyric Connection folder on Canvas and the accompanying streaming musical examples.
Conclusion wrap up the main thoughts of your discourse; show the reader that the thesis was proved out. A strong conclusion is critical to a successful paper.
Ancillary Parts
A discography of albums used for your papers is required, and should include the name of the artist/group, title of album, record company, year, and catalog number (usually found on the thin edge of the cd case on either end.) (see example format below).
This should be on a separate page at the end of your paper, or it may appear after the bibliography on the same page, but DO NOT mix discography and bibliography sources, keep separate and label as such.
**The source for the lyrics is the song itself, NOT a website that publishes them. Therefore the reference is in the discography. Cite only the albums from which your songs come (see explanation below).  The discography acts as a blanket reference for all lyrics quoted, with no citation marks required in the body of the paper. Put another way; It is not plagiarism to copy lyrics off of a website and not cite it BECAUSE it is not the original source, the CD is. As long as you have a discography, quote away!
Discography finding the info:
BUT WAIT My songs are downloaded/streamed online.- or I dont have the physical disk the songs are from.
If you do not have the original CD cover, you will have to research to find the information required. If you know the record company that released the song/album, you can find the catalog number on the companys website (you do not need to cite the website, however). If you do not know the record company and/or the album title, a good source is www.allmusic.com. If it is a popular artist, you can go to a music retailer and copy the info off the CD spine.
Example: Miles Davis, Bitches Brew, Columbia Records (1969), G2K 40577
(please notice: no song title because the song is like a chapter in a book, which is likewise not listed in a bibliography.)

Bibliography: You must list all sources in a bibliography and cite them in the body of the text when they are being referenced. Web sources must include the complete URL address. Wikis of any kind and dictionaries are not acceptable sources.
2 possible methods choose one:
Hybrid: Number sources in bibliography 1 thru X. All citations will use the same numbers, corresponding to the source as listed in the bibliography. Like an endnote, but citations wont necessarily be in numerical order, plus the same source (and corresponding reference number) may be used multiple times. (see details on p. 1)
Any accepted standard reference citation method endnote, parenthetical, bibliography, using MLA, APA, Chicago Style Manual, Turabian, etc.
When you cite an internet source, you must include: author (if known), title of    article or page, date (if known), and full URL (not the home page) of the source.
DO NOT copy/paste bibliographic text from websites without changing font to match the rest of your paper.
Bibliography, notes, or song lyrics are considered extra with respect to the required paper length.

Evaluation of your paper will be based on the depth and sincerity with which you go into comparing the songs. Discussion of biographical/historical events that have influenced the artist, or are otherwise about the inspiration for the song, is irrelevant to this assignment.
The evaluation of your term paper will be based on how well you address the aforementioned guidelines. Specifically, 40% of the term paper grade is based on writing ability (formal, third-person prose, organization, grammar, spelling, etc), 60% on content. The content grade will be based in part on the degree to which you (1) integrate interdisciplinary skills and knowledge; (2) demonstrate intellectual acuity, imagination, and sensitivity; (3) demonstrate awareness of interrelationships among music, self, society, and culture; (4) apply argumentation and methodology of music; and (5) interpret, perceive, and apply course content.
Important: In addition to the above, read appendixes B-D in your course packet. These guidelines apply to the term paper and are binding with respect to the term paper grade.

The vast majority of the writing must be yours. Your reactions, thoughts, and opinions are more relevant to this assignment than those of anybody else.

———–end of instructions——–

*Examining the Music/Lyric Connection a guide to understanding and writing about it.
Music The artist can use any aspect, characteristic, or element of music to support lyrical ideas they want to convey. Below is a list of common elements in much of pop music, each followed by qualities to consider. Discuss any of the following in conjunction with a lyric discussion or quote.  In your paper, include more than one aspect, demonstrating, as best you can, what that element is doing, what impact these aspects have on the meaning of the lyrics being examined at that point, or its support of the general idea in the song. Choose from the following aspects or derive your own:
vocal style, delivery, range, intensity, dynamics, sound quality, tone, backing vocals, usually the most direct connection to lyric. (see Vocal inflection, under Connection below)
instrumentation the instruments used in a song/band. Should be limited to the contribution of the sound of the instruments, as a group make, i.e. the banjo, fiddle and harp give the song an intimate warmth. It is not necessarily what each individual instrument plays. Their contribution can be discussed in connection to an individual instrument (see below). Note: instruments play, instrumentation just IS.
tempo slow, plodding, ballad, somber, moderate, mellow indicate a sad or reflective mood. Fast, upbeat, moving, churning, charging, burning indicate a happier, more animated mood.
dynamics   general volume changes, specific loud or soft passages, often connected to texture.
texture layering of parts, few = thin, many = thick, can also mean many layers of the same instrument or voices
production may relate to sound, instrumentation. May include studio techniques: mix, echo or reverberation effects, texture, special sounds, sound effects.
Individual instruments:
drums/percussion beat, groove, intensity, dynamics, syncopation, includes electronic or sampled drums (drum machine, beat-box)
bass rhythm, intensity, density, prominence, consistency.
guitar acoustic, electric, rhythm, lead, tone, solo.
keyboard traditional sounds; piano, organ. Or synthesizer, weird, special effects.
horns saxophone, trumpet, trombone, etc.
You should make observations and draw conclusions. In every observation should be a sense of the contribution that it lends to the music. Moreover, using above aspects, make a point to discuss how your songs music enhances or amplifies what you perceive to be the meaning of the song. Put simply, you should have a reason for mentioning the observation.
In the introduction to your paper try to discern and convey (in brief) the overarching message, mood, moral or meaning in the lyrics.
All lyric discussion must be describing a connection to the music.
Use of lyric quotes
The most direct way to connect the reader with the song is through the effective use of lyric quotes. It is not the abundance of lyric quotes we are looking for, it is the effectiveness of the ones you use. Do not just write about the lyrics, rather show evidence through direct quotes. Make observations regarding the text of the song. What is it about? Does it tell a story? Not all songs tell a story, but they usually have a meaning. Interpret the meaning. If you cannot, please choose a different song! Look for a general message, mood or moral. If it adds to the readers understanding of the meaning, observe something about the structure of the lyric: rhyme scheme; first person or third; wordy or efficient; concrete or abstract.

Discuss how and to what extent the music enhances the lyrics. In order to clearly MAKE the connection you must use lyric quotes in conjunction with the musical aspect you are describing. Without them, the connection is vague to nonexistent. Consider this formula as you write:
Lyric quote + musical aspect + emotional impact = CONNECTION
Since we have already established that music enhances lyrics, to simply write, the music definitely enhances the words of the chorus is inadequate. It neither addresses the words OR the music. That is like a defense attorney adamantly swearing to his clients innocence without presenting any evidence!  Look for the specific mechanism. It can be one or a combination of many things. A guitar riff, the pulsing bass, a drum beat that is steady or one that is convoluted, the singers delivery, his/her vocal tone, or quality, or range, or volume, or intensity or all the above, bringing a nuance to the song beyond the written word. Remember, these are impressions. There is no right answer per se, but write it as though it is a fact, unapologetically.
Ways that music relates to lyrics:
Word Painting: The most obvious type is direct word painting, i.e. the word stop coincides with the band stopping momentarily; a line about a car, coinciding with a guitar imitating an engine revving or tires screeching. Lyrics involving falling (leaves, rain, snow, in love) accompanied by a downward moving melody, countermelody, or other instrumental device. Some songs even include sound effects (thunder, rain, surf, seagulls, train on tracks, gunshot, cars, etc.)
Vocal inflection: There is usually a more direct emotional connection from the voice to words, for obvious reasons listen for it. An impassioned, near cracking voice, at the top of his/her range, pleads, dont go/ I cant live without you conveys the emotion lacking in the words alone. Try to describe the mechanism (why or how) conveying an emotion, i.e. the voice is smooth, husky, smoky, gravely, gasping, screeching, laughing, full throated, belted, whispering, childlike, sarcastic, slurring, enunciated, etc. NOT effective: …she sounds happy, (sad, angry, hurt) it does not describe why or how. A combination of mechanism + emotion is most effective.
Representation: Where a musical element (vocal or instrumental) represents an idea, person, emotion or thing. Examples:
The swelling string section where he sings, My heart takes flight… represents his love for her, as though his heart is flying away, out of his control.
Nearly whimpering, she sings, A black hole where my heart should be as the pounding rhythm halts suddenly, leaving only the voice, brilliantly depicting the emptiness felt.
Emotion: Less direct, but effective, (and more likely) the mood of a lyric section matches something in the music, i.e. a lyric expressing an uplifting, joyous idea is accompanied by music that is animated, generally moving up or, has a lot of major chords. Conversely, a sad or reflective part may be accompanied by slower moving music, a smaller ranging melody, or minor sounding harmony. A dark or ominous subject can be supported by an agitated, dissonant (unsettled) background. Notice how different emotions are expressed musically.
Emphasis: Sometimes lyrical phrases or words are emphasized or punctuated by the music. It could be done by the singer singing the word or phrase harder, higher or both. It could also be achieved by instruments hitting a stop just before, or making stabs surrounding the word or phrase. This kind of connection is usually characterized by something unusual in the song. Logically, you cannot assert that the drumbeat or the style of the song emphasizes a meaningful lyric. Those elements are more or less constant. Conversely, if the drums (or any instrument) hit something departing from the established groove, on or around the word(s) in question, that is an emphasis.
Construction and Strategy
Thesis placed at the end of the intro, it informs the reader, in very brief terms, what they will learn by the end of the paper.  It is NOT a statement of what YOU are going to DO, analyze the issue and words to show a connection… That is the process you are going through. To the contrary, a thesis is about the RESULT of that process. If your thesis only addresses the story, told through the lyrics, or the issue, then the reader will not be fully informed about what they are about to read.
Use declarative third-person prose throughout. References to self (I, me, my) have no place in a formal paper including I will discuss…, I chose this song…, in my opinion…, I think…, etc. Neither should you use the pronoun you, which is addressing the reader.  Use the word one to replace me or you. ex. the lyrics give one a sense the story is allegorical rather than autobiographical… or avoid the issue altogether, the lyrics tell the story allegorically rather than autobiographically…
Integration To the extent that you closely compare ideas and lyrics of the two songs you will do well to alternate between songs as the discussion unfolds. It is not a comparison when one song is discussed at length followed by the other. Instead, breakdown the discussion into digestible elements and compare each element more directly.
References to points in song Identify events, lyric quotes, etc. relative to sections of the song, such as: introduction, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, solo, interlude, ending, as may apply. Do NOT refer to minutes and seconds, i.e.. at  3:22 there is a guitar riff. It is of no help to the reader.
Chronological Commentary Resist the compulsion to go through the songs lyrics completely, in the order they appear, and explain what they mean. Not all lyrics are of equal importance. The songs relationship to the issue does not rely on the order in which the lyrics come. Neither do you need to only compare verse to verse or chorus to chorus.
Research/Organization Begin by finding the songs, of course. Research the social issue. That should be the easiest part. You will be judged in part on the quality of your sources. Dont use the first item you find.
Have FUN!


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