“In My Life” essay or a “Come Together” essay
Decide whether to write an “In My Life” essay or a “Come Together” essay. For a description of these two types of essays, and for general advice about writing critical essays, see Assignment Guidelines: Critical Essays in the Syllabus. Remember, you need to write at least three “Come Together” essays during this seven-lesson course.
The focus of this essay are the roots of rock and the issue of race in the United States.
Rock music is a very important cultural phenomenon and one that may have a permanent social presence. This is why it is important to understand its roots.
There’s obviously a great deal to read and listen to in this lesson, even though it is confined to a single chapter in the textbook. Therefore, please do not attempt to analyze anything we haven’t discussed in this study guide. The period we’ve studied and the variety of musical styles would otherwise be overwhelming.
Here are some things to think about as you formulate your essay:
If you choose the “Come Together” interview option for your essay, it’s important to keep in mind that the music in this lesson is of a vintage that would make it difficult for you to find anyone to interview who remembered it when it first came out.
I strongly suggest that you focus on just a few styles and eras, perhaps only one, if you find one that is particularly interesting. Review the notes you took while doing the reading to help yourself focus on this assignment.
As you choose the style(s) and era(s), consider the issue of race. In particular, consider how perhaps the single most important and constant issue in defining the character of American society has been the nature of relations between peoples of African and European descent.
Then think about how the uniqueness of American music is largely a function of the many ways in which these two cultural influences have intermeshed. Race relations have often been poor, a drain on the creative energies of Americans of all races. It is, for example, hard to imagine anything about slavery that was positive. At the same time, so much of the world’s favorite music—American popular music—owes its uniqueness to the fact that it reflects a mix of cultures that had yet to learn how to live together peaceably. In your essay, explore these issues, and see what conclusions you arrive at.
Draft Your Essay
It will be best to begin with the beginning. Formulate an idea about music and race. This core idea will be what’s called your “thesis” in essay writing. State your thesis in the introduction.
Then support it with what you’ve learned. As you formulate your ideas on some aspect of music and race, you’ll need to refer to at least four musical examples.
You’ll also need to address social and political events and ideas from the same period(s) as the music.
This lesson is full of ideas for supplemental reading, listening, and viewing if that is of interest. I can supply more suggestions if you contact me via e-mail.
Please remember the basic structure of an essay: state your thesis in the introduction. Then support it with what you’ve learned. See the resources listed in the Syllabus section of this course site for additional Writing and Study Help.
Be sure to reference the appropriate number of assigned and supplemental songs (see Assignment Guidelines: Critical Essays for more information).