music 1010

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music 1010

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Discuss the interrelationship between music and program in Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, no. 4 “Winter” (from The Four Seasons published in 1725). Does Vivaldi adapt/alter any of the conventions of either the concerto or Baroque style in response to the poem that inspires this particular work? Must the listener be familiar with the poem in order to understand Vivaldi’s music? Explain. [See below for length requirement, content summary, bibliographic concerns, etc.]


The complete poem

Frozen and shivering in the icy snow,

In the strong blasts of a terrible wind

To run stamping one’s feet at every step

With one’s teeth chattering through the cold.

To spend the quiet and happy days by the fire

Whilst outside the rain soaks everyone.

To walk on the ice with slow step

And go carefully for fear of falling.

To go in haste, slide and fall down:

To go again on the ice and run,

Until the ice cracks and opens.

To hear leaving their iron-gated house Sirocco,*

Boreas* and the winds in battle:

This is winter, but it brings joy.

*NOTE: Sirocco and Boreas are personifications of winds.


Frozen shivering in the icy snow

Dreadful storm

Running and foot stamping because of the cold


Chattering of teeth




Crossing the ice

Moving carefully and anxiously

Falling to the ground

Striding boldly on

The sirocco

The north wind and all other winds


1) This is a listening assignment, NOT a research paper. Between the textbook, notes taken during lecture, and your ears, you have all of the materials you need.

Emphasis should be given to musical analysis and interpretation. The paper should be a discussion of the assigned composition in terms of melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, form, etc. This analysis should (mostly) be your own observations based on attentive listening. I would rather see incorrect/inaccurate analysis by you than a regurgitation of an analysis you read in a book.

If you nevertheless insist on researching the topic, the following sources are unacceptable:,,,,,, any personal blogs (regardless of the web address),, STUDENT papers appearing on university web sites, AND many other sites (too plentiful to list here).

If you use unscholarly/inappropriate sources (like those enumerated above), your grade will be no higher than a C. As a general rule, sources either a) need to be books checked out from a university library, or b) can be accessed online only after logging into a university library’s database system. Please don’t try to get away with using these sources by neglecting to cite them—Dr. Basinger can google “Vivaldi Four Seasons” just as easily as you can . . . .

2) You may access a recording of the work in the “Class Recordings” area of the Files page, as well as in the Pages area.

3) The first page (approximately) of the paper should be devoted to defining/describing the concerto, ritornello form, and Baroque style.

4) The second page should be devoted to examination of the work (in terms of fundamentals) in light of the definitions/descriptions given on the previous page. In other words, this page needs to consider how well Vivaldi’s “Winter concerto follows the conventions of the Baroque concerto (in terms of performing forces, sequence of movements, ritornello form, continuity, etc.)

5) The final page should consider the music in light of the poem and title(without restating the poem verbatim). Consider what aspects of “Winter” reflect ideas and imagery from the poem, justifying each by specifically describing the music in terms of fundamentals. Pay special attention to the places/aspects of the piece that do not conform to the norms of the Baroque concerto, as well as how the poem might have prompted Vivaldi to “break the rules.”

6) 3-5 typed pages, double-spaced


1) A well organized paper will have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

2) Your paper should have a point (i.e., an original thesis statement that is a product of your own thought)! This point should be clearly expressed in your introduction and supported in the remainder of your argument. On the most basic level, there are really only three possible thesis statements (which should be restated in your own words):

a) Because the “Winter” concerto closely follows the conventions of a Baroque concerto, the music makes sense on its own, without the poem.

b) Because the “Winter” concerto violates the conventions of the Baroque concerto, the music does not make sense without the poem.

c) Because the “Winter” concerto closely follows the conventions of a Baroque concerto, the music makes sense on its own; however, the poem adds an additional level of meaning.

3) You don’t need to discuss all 3 movements if it’s going to make your paper longer than 5 pages. However, you must acknowledge that there are a total of 3 movements (as well as whether they follow the standardized sequence associated with concerti).


1) If you use any reference material (this includes the textbook), you must include a bibliography. Please refer to The Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Handbook for the correct bibliographic format. Bibliographies do not count towards the 3-page minimum length!

2) If you draw upon any outside information, you must include footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical citations. The style manuals listed above will show you the correct format for these all of these.

3) Obviously, all direct quotation must be cited. Indirect quotation, paraphrase, and reference to the work of others must also be cited. Because the instructor is well read, she can always tell when ideas are not the student’s (and she can often recognize the original source of the information); you will get snide remarks and snippy comments in the margin of your paper—and likely a lower grade—if you commit this grievous error.

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