What is an MLI?
This question both excites and perplexes us in the Diploma Music Program. We as music educators love teaching World Music because it broadens our horizons, opens our eyes to other cultures’ practices and we can be inspired for performance, composition and more. Alternatively, this task called the Musical Links Investigation can be a problem and is often left to the last minute. After speaking to other educators I feel the following will help many, along with their teachers to craft amazing musical connections that show musical detail, with notation and analysis.
See this post for my initial thoughts on the Musical Links Investigation (MLI).
The criteria are very important. You cannot go past these when planning your MLI. Yes, 2000 words is the limit, Baroque and Jazz can be distinct cultures and referencing is essential (images too). However, if you do not address the criteria you cannot get the grade you want. As a new examiner of the MLI I can attest to what I have seen and graded. The following can be used as a checklist and while it is in no way perfect, my students find it useful.
Criterion A (out of 3).
Once you have two clear cultures established (for example India and Jazz, Egyptian and Mahler) choose two pieces with enough material that you can analyse and compare. This is very important. You will need to state these up front at the start of the MLI.
Next, the connections. Just as you chose two distinct works because of the amount of material in each, define your connections around two concepts/elements of music so that you have enough to analyse. Don’t say ‘there is an ostinato,’ or even ‘there are many ostinatos.’ This is too narrow and you will run out of material to analyse. Similarly, stating the two works have linked dynamics or tempo is to broad and empty. Once you say ‘it has crescendos and diminuendo’s’ where will you go? Find connections that give purpose to your analysis; the structure is based upon motivic development, or, the pitch in both is reliant upon a harmonic framework in the bass, or melodies use tetra-chordal phrases as textures, and lastly, rhythmic devices are used as structural elements. This allows for repetition, ostinato’s, syncopation and articulation with both accents agogic and dynamic to be given as examples.
Hint: If you wrote a Music Extended Essay this is almost the same. If you did not, find some and read them. The next criteria is worth 6 marks for detailed analysis and you need them.
Criterion B (out of 6).
What does it mean to analyse? This is a big issue with MLI’s I have seen. Analysis needs to go past simply stating there is a left hand arpeggio pattern. It needs to follow the MYP Command terms of Identify (tell me what is there), Describe (describe what is there), Analyse (go deeper with terms, look at the form, intervals used, surrounding harmony, phrasing, contour of the line, what pitch set is it derived from) and Explain (what is its role, function, place in the excerpt, intent of the composer/performer).
Purchase an old BBC Music Guide or look at this amazing site of materials by Ross Hamilton. This is what it means to analyse and the last part is: give proof in the form of notated examples! You need notated examples.
This is your quote, your evidence and CD or YouTube timings are not sufficient (especially when the links to the videos are not referenced). Do not copy and paste from the Schott or J.Stock World Music textbooks. Re-write your short excerpts in Musescore or Sibelius and include the following: instrument, clef, time signature, key signature, important features of the excerpt highlighted, chords analysed or tetra-chord structure underlined, with a label and reference (e.g. Figure 1.2 Dover Publication edition …).
Lastly, you need to compare the two works, through analysis. If you can outline how Traditional Japanese music utilises tetra-chord patterns to phrase its scales/modes and that they in turn are a structural element in your chosen piece(s). Then with notated examples (more than 2), place this next to your other analysed work (with notated examples) and explain how they are similar or different.
Ask yourself, ‘Why do you think this is?’ and, ‘from the phrasing/repetition/interval pattern why are they are similar?’ Without this step of comparing the analysis you cannot get into the top category here.
Hint: Context is important. But don’t waste time explaining the history of Brazilian Maracatu. Instead, use the historical context to show why a rhythm or melodic phrase functions in the way it does.
I will address the other three criteria’s in another post. Has this given you insight into what you can plan for your MLI?
Feel free to leave comments below and I look forward to hearing from you.