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This week’s assigned film,

Alive Inside

, explored how music deeply shapes our memories and identities, and showed people re-discovering music that had been meaningful to them at a much earlier time in their life. Although the film focused on dementia patients, music has this power for all of us, shaping our sense of self, and creating powerful shared experiences with others.

For this assignment, we ask you to choose two songs or pieces of music (with or without lyrics): 1) One that you remember as being meaningful to you during your childhood or an earlier period of life, and 2) One that you imagine yourself, 30+ years from now, remembering as being meaningful from this current time in your life. They could be songs that you especially enjoyed or identified with, or that you associate with an important memory, place, or people. For each song, write a paragraph addressing the following 2 questions:

Why is the song especially meaningful for you?

How do you think those meanings, or the emotions you associate with the song, relate to the its


qualities? Listen carefully to the song a few times, and then discuss some of the details in the


that you notice: What aspects do you notice in the music’s rhythms, melodies, harmonies, or timbres that you think most affect your emotional experience of the song and what it means to you?

Describing sound can be challenging, and is also subjective; the point of this exercise is to practice listening closely for sonic details. You are not required to use the technical terms discussed in the Levitin reading and Patel videos, but you might find them helpful to consider.

Be sure to revise your writing carefully, to ensure you are expressing your ideas clearly and correcting grammar and spelling errors. Label the 2 paragraphs as “Earlier time song” and “Current time song,” and provide a link to each song if available.

Note: The most common mistake that people make in submitting this assignment is that they talk about why each song is meaningful to them, but ignore the 2nd question about sonic qualities. Be sure to read and address both questions carefully, for each song.

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