how music can reflect, represent, or speak to a place

Writing Goals

The goal of this essay is to demonstrate your understanding of how music can reflect, represent, or speak to a place. You will do this by demonstrating the following key writing skills:

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Crafting an argument: Creating arguable claims (including your main claim – the thesis) and using effective logical reasoning to develop the argument
Using evidence to support claims: Demonstrating the ability to identify and incorporate relevant, interesting, effective evidence that enhances and supports the argument
Adding to a conversation: Further exploring ideas, concepts, questions, or terms raised by another writer, which calls for your own examples, claims, and analysis as you test, complicate, or add to the ideas raised by another writer
Analysis: Opening up meaning for readers, based on evidence from your subject, beyond an opinion-only reaction by offering explanations, insights, and connections between evidence and claims.

The Assignment

In “Los Angeles Is Singing,” Kun claims that “[s]ongs can orient us to where we are, ground us in a sense of home, but they can also help us imagine where we want to go and reimagine just what home can mean” (183). Throughout his examination of this idea, he discusses the wide variety of songs that have been written about Los Angeles.

In this essay, you will select 3-4 songs that relate to Los Angeles in some way and explain: How do these songs offer a particular experience or “phenomenological” understanding of L.A.?

In your essay, you will analyze how particular songs reflect, influence, or speak directly to Los Angeles. The first step is to decide on a focus. Choose one of the following areas of focus:

Pick a specific neighborhood or community in L.A. and discuss how the songs represent that neighborhood; this could involve a contemporary look at the area or an examination of a historical moment (such as gangsta rap from Compton in the 1990s, the hard rock scene in the 1980s on the Sunset Strip, the West Coast jazz scene on Central Avenue from 1940s-1950s, etc.).
Look into the ways songs represent a particular culture in L.A. Culture in this case could mean ethnicity or country of origin, but it could also mean a subculture that revolves around an activity or place (such as surfers, car culture, etc.)

For the project, you will need to include 3-4 songs (your mixtape).

Source Requirements

This project will require you to do some research to find your songs, which will be sources for the essay. The first step is to discover and listen to songs in order to narrow down the ones you want to include. YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, etc. are valuable tools for this.

Along with the songs, you may want to understand more about the music, cultures, neighborhoods, and histories you are examining. This optional research would help provide important context for your readers and help you to understand your subject better.

In terms of source requirements, you must incorporate cited evidence (e.g. paraphrase/summary, description, quotations) from the following:

Josh Kun’s essay, “Los Angeles Is Singing” (add to the conversation that he started about how music represents Los Angeles)
3-4 well-chosen songs

Assignment Requirements:

Your essay should be 4-5 full double-spaced pages with 1’’ side margins, 1” header and footer margins, Times New Roman, 12 pt
Your introduction should end with a thesis that gives your readers a complex claim that explains how music is able to speak to or reflect a neighborhood, landscape, culture, or community in Los Angeles (depending on how you’ve decided to focus your essay).
You must integrate Josh Kun’s essay, “Los Angeles is Singing.” For your readers, you must accurately summarize the ideas, theories, terms, or concepts you are using from your source (making sure your summary is understandable to a reader who is not familiar with the source you’re introducing, but that summarizing does not take over your essay).
Your other evidence will come from your own descriptions of the songs (imagine readers don’t know them), quoting of lyrics (if there are any), and any accompanying source material that offers context to your soundtrack.
Your essay should engage in analysis of 3-4 songs using one of the foci listed in these directions.
Organize your essay around your own ideas/claims about how music represents L.A. (instead of organizing the essay song-by-song). Avoid turning your essay into a simple list of songs (“The first song I picked is…”).
Cite all sources in MLA format (in text), in addition to a Works Cited page. Use Purdue OWL (linked on Canvas) to look up proper MLA in-text citations and Works Cited formatting. You can also find how to cite songs, specifically, on Purdue OWL.
Proofread for mistakes and edit for clarity. Consider paragraph organization
750 word minimum

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