Music Research Papers & Help Writing a Music Essay


(Updated on July 8, 2020)

Many students enrolled in music courses will have to complete a music term paper as the final project.  If a student isn't devoted to studying music, he/she may have some difficulties in completing a term paper about the music.  After all, music and language are very different methods of communication.  However, if a student understands the basic requirements for a music term paper, he/she has a better chance of completing an effective project.

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Essays are often the final documents that students write for a particular course.  These papers commonly account for a majority of a student's grade.  In order to write music term papers, students need to be studying one particular topic independently over the course of a semester by doing outside research on the topic.

Because a music essay or term paper requires language and music courses tend to focus on music itself, merging music with language can be challenging for many students.  Therefore, many music students may need to work with their professors or an on-campus writing center in order to develop and write effective music term papers.

Music Research Papers & Help Writing a Music EssayWhen a student is assigned a music term paper, he/she should begin by learning as much as possible about what is expected of him/her.  For example, the student should learn about the assignment requirements, such as page-count and topic limitations.  Some courses will be easier to select a topic for than others.  A music theory class, for example, would be simpler than a music composition class when it comes to selecting the right topic for a music report.

With a topic selected, learners should perform as much research as possible about that topic.  Students may combine music with language in order to perform their research.  For example, if a student is completing a term paper about operas, he/she may want to listen to some popular arias to get a better example of classic opera music and style.  The student would then need to translate that understanding of an aria into language so that he/she can communicate it.

A music term paper is different from many other types of writing.  Essays, for example, may be easy for many music students to write, as they require learners to provide opinions on certain topics or ideas.  However, music term papers require learners to provide objective information about a topic.  Therefore, music reports should rely on research rather than feelings, which can be difficult for music students.

Music Essays

Students take college music courses for a variety of reasons.  Students who are music majors are obviously taking music courses to fulfill the requirements of their majors.  Some students take music courses because they look like easy and enjoyable ways to fill the need for elective courses and a great way to explore other areas of study.  Either way, students taking music courses will often be required to write some form of music paper.

Music essays are completed in the same way as any other.  The difference is in the content, the subject area, and perhaps the references used for the document.  Many music essays are required to reflect the student's understanding of a particular piece or type of music and therefore use music itself as reference material.  These types of music essays are often the most difficult for students to write because most people listen to music for enjoyment only and rarely participate in any real critical review of music.

Music papers that are about a particular music-related topic are often far easier for students to write.  This type of music essay reflects a student's ability to understand and research a particular subject rather than requiring students to gather a more comprehensive meaning from music itself.  The type of music paper that a learner will be required to write will generally depend on the focus of the music course.

Music courses that are about music appreciation are often more focused on understanding music and may require learners to focus on the mechanics of music more than a course that's about music history.  In a music history course, learners will have a better chance of completing a college report based on the familiar research methods they're used to using.  Gathering print information and then writing about what has been learned is the hallmark of most essay writing and a tactic that most students readily understand.

Regardless of the type of music essay that a student is required to write, it must follow the writing guidelines set forth by the course instructor.  Students should proofread each music essay for grammar errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation perfection.  Each music report should include an introduction, a paper body, and a well-written conclusion.  Music reports should also adhere to whichever writing style guide the instructor indicates should be used.  Finally, learners should enlist the help of friends and fellow students to give their document a final once-over before submission.  Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can catch errors that the student may have missed.

Research Papers on Music

A research paper on music is a lengthy, academic text completed for a course on music theory, history, analysis, or composition.  Research papers on music use a selection of scholarly resources to explore a particular topic in a thorough way.  A research paper on music is different from a paper or essay in which a student is expected to present an individual analysis or interpretation of a piece of music on his/her own.  Such assignments or reports should be based in the student's own analytical and interpretive opinions.  Research papers on music, on the other hand, typically present an overview of what others have said on a particular topic, though they do so in a way that supports the writer's own, individual interpretation.

A research paper on music should focus on a very specific idea, practice, theory, or principle.  It would be folly for a learner to attempt to complete a research paper on Romantic piano music; this is an enormous topic, on which tomes have been written.  Rather, the student should spend some time considering what specific aspect or aspects of Romantic piano music he/she finds most compelling, and develop a topic from that.  For instance, the student may be particularly fascinated by the grandiose, impassioned style that marks Romantic piano works.  Or, he/she may be enamored with the way the Romantics transformed a particular form, such as the sonata.  Or perhaps the student's primary interest is in the way the Romantics influenced their Modernist successors or, even more particularly, the way a single Romantic influenced Modernism, or a group of Romantics influenced a single Modernist.  Topics such as these are complex and interesting; they require in-depth answers.  It is this type of topic that a student should choose for his/her assignment on music.

Research papers on music should be researched in music libraries.  Music libraries have far more resources than a regular academic library's music section because their primary aim is to be a resource for music scholars and students.  Music libraries will therefore carry a far more specific and extensive collection of music-based literature.  Students may find it helpful to employ the assistance of a music librarian as they become familiar with their nearest music library and its organization.

Once adequate research has been gathered and assimilated, the student must consider the best way to synthesize and present that information.  This process is often greatly assisted through the development of a report outline.  The student should clearly detail all of the information he/she wishes to include in the report in the outline, and then arrange it in such a way that allows for a fluid and organized progression of ideas.  Once the outline has been completed, the student is ready to write the document.  This will require the student to follow the outline, present the research he/she has discovered, and comment intelligently on that research and what it suggests about the topic.  Students should always proofread their documents carefully before submission.

Music Dissertation Writing Help

A music dissertation is composed by a student in the final phase of his/her doctoral study in a music field.  Music dissertations are theoretic or analytic texts that address some aspect of musicology, ethnomusicology, music therapy, music theory, music composition, music history, music practice, or music pedagogy.  A music dissertation is different from other works of music scholarship in that it must present an original contribution to the field of music study for which it's completed.  It is not, in other words, simply a research document, but a wholly new interpretation or study.  Therefore, music dissertations often take months and sometimes even years to complete.

Music dissertations will vary greatly depending on the specific branch of music that they address.  A music therapy dissertation, for instance, will likely have more in common with a psychology dissertation than it will with an ethnomusicology reference project.  For this reason, music dissertations take many different forms.  Some, like music therapy dissertations, are completed following the standard dissertation format of the social sciences.  Others, like music pedagogy dissertations, are written in a similar fashion to other education dissertations.  Music theory and composition dissertations, on the other hand, will likely resemble scientific dissertations.  As evidenced here, many branches of music are also branches of other disciplines.  This means that scholarship in these branches of music is also scholarship in those other branches.  Therefore, it's common for music dissertations to accommodate the styles and forms of multiple disciplines.

All music dissertations will include copious score excerpts and technical diagrams.  To musicians, music is a language as easily understandable as the spoken word.  Therefore, it's not uncommon for a music dissertation in any musical field to have whole pages of score citations.  These excerpts are intended to be read just as the text is to be read.  They serve the same purpose as text quotations, and should be discussed in the report in a similar way—meaning they should be thoroughly introduced, explained, and analyzed.  Many music dissertations will also include some type of theoretical analysis or discussion.  These analyses often require illustration through diagrams and other figures.  These should also be thoroughly explained and discussed.

Some dissertations may employ the use of sound recordings in addition to score excerpts.  These recordings are used to compare and contrast works, to highlight elements of composition and style, or to analyze unpublished music.  These recordings should be referenced throughout the report text, where appropriate.

All music dissertations must follow the explicit criteria of the student's department and university and be completed under the advisement of a dissertation committee.  The student will then be required to defend his/her music dissertation before earning his/her Ph.D.

Music Thesis Help

A music thesis is one that a student has to write for a music course or class.  Many students struggle to write music theses because they're accustomed to communicating through music alone.  Therefore, many music students have to rely on writing centers or professional help in order to create effective music theses.

Students may write music theses about any subject related to music.  However, some professors will require that learners write about a particular topic, such as Baroque music or a Baroque composer of their choice.  When a student is able to choose his/her own topic, he/she would be wise to select a topic of personal interest that is closely suited to his/her preferred career path.

When a student begins his/her music thesis research, he/she will not only use written resources, but the student may also have to listen to music in order to understand it.  For example, if a student is completing a paper about techniques used in Baroque music, he/she may want to hear what counter play sounds like.  The student might also want to hear what a harpsichord sounds like, as a harpsichord is a classic Baroque instrument.

After a student has performed a suitable amount of research into the particular music topic, he/she can begin to draft an outline of the music thesis.  The music thesis outline should provide a clear direction for the student when he/she begins to write the music thesis.  Therefore, the outline shouldn't only include basic information that will be included in the thesis, but it should also include the format and structure.

Students who write music theses should expect to have to write several drafts.  Many students also benefit by having their music these reviewed by professors before they turn them in so that they can be confident that the thesis suits the needs of the assignment.

While a music thesis may have the same format as any other thesis, the methods that a student takes to write and research the thesis will be very different.  First, the learner will most likely need to have knowledge of how to read music so that he/she can understand some key concepts and variations, even if the student can't directly listen to the music.  Therefore, music theses are sometimes like foreign language theses.

Also, many learners will need to listen to music or play an instrument in order to understand some of the things that they're researching.  Therefore, unlike other courses through which students may have to read documents and perform interviews in order to complete a thesis, music students may need to use their ears, as well.

Music Coursework Help

Music coursework is comprised of the body of assignments a student must complete in order to pass a music class.  Music coursework is generally considered to consist of both in-class and out-of-class assignments.  Because of the nature of the subject matter, music coursework—particularly in music theory or composition courses—will be very different from coursework for other classes.  Many music classes will require compositions, music analysis, or performance-based work such as sight-singing or chord recognition.  However, it's still likely that all music courses will require at least a few writing assignments, such as research papers, analysis papers, and music reviews.

A research paper is a popular music coursework assignment, particularly in higher-level music courses.  The nature of these reports will be different depending on the course for which they're assigned.  For instance, a music history research paper will be different from a music theory reference project.  However, regardless of the subject matter, a music research paper will be based in ideas and opinions presented in a variety of scholarly music sources.  This will require the student to spend extensive research time in a music library.  In all music research papers, it's common for the writer to integrate both text and music quotations from their research sources.

An analysis paper is another common music coursework assignment.  An analysis paper requires the student to critically interpret and explain a musical text, similar to the way in which a student may critically interpret and explain a work of literature or visual artwork.  Music analysis consists of formal, theoretical, and stylistic analysis.  In a music analysis paper, the learner will discuss the form, or structure, of the piece; theoretical elements such as harmonic and melodic structure; and stylistic elements such as phrasing, articulation, and dynamics.

Another very popular music coursework assignment is a music review.  Many music professors will require their students to attend a variety of musical performances over the course of the term, and then complete a review of each performance.  Music reviews are similar to book reviews in that they present a summary of the main points of the performance and then offer commentary and analysis.  Music reviews should always identify the date, location, performers, and works performed in the introduction of the review, and should then proceed to discuss each piece performed and the perceived "success" of the performance.

Music, particularly when studied at college level, is a complex and scholarly subject requiring the same critical and research acumen as any other academic subject.  Therefore, music coursework will often be challenging and intense.  Students should approach their coursework with the same creative and critical minds as they do their other subjects.

Term Paper on Music

Writing term papers on music allows students to study a very unique topic for a prolonged period of time and report on their findings.  When students are required to write term papers on music, they're often required to translate emotions and purposes of musical scores and pieces in order to express in words what the music conveys with instruments and notes.  Therefore, writing term papers on music can be difficult for many students.

There are a variety of topics that a student can write about for a term paper on music.  For example, while a common term paper on music topic might require learners to translate the emotions behind music into words, other university papers on music might require learners to write about the historical record of music, musical instruments, a composer or band, or other topic related to music.  Therefore, learners should always review a term paper assignment before they begin researching and writing.

Once a student has performed a suitable amount of research for his/her assignment on music, he/she should create an outline for the document.  The term paper outline will help the student to organize his/her thoughts before he/she begins the writing process.  This organization will also help to ensure that the student maintains a good flow throughout the report and includes important information.

A term paper on music should follow the same format as a term paper on any other subject.  The introduction to the document should include background information about the topic.  For example, if the project is going to be about the use of music in films, the student should provide a brief overview of how music is used in films and give examples.  The student should also include a document in the introductory paragraph.  The thesis provides the purpose of the document.  For example, a thesis for a term paper on music in film might be, "If music is used in film, the emotions that the audience members experienced are heightened."

Each body paragraph of the report will need to support the thesis with new information and examples of why the thesis is true.  The conclusion to the project is a one paragraph recap of all of the themes and ideas that the student presented in the report, as well as the student's own conclusion about how music impacts emotions, for example.

A term paper on music is different than an essay on music, even though the two are both academic documents about the subject of music.  An essay is usually a shorter, lesser work that a student may have to create many times in one semester.  Professors assign reports so that students can study topics and provide information about them.

A term paper on music requires that students study one topic in-depth over the course of a semester.  The students will then need to compile the information they find into a physical/visual document that helps the student to communicate the lessons or themes that he/she discovered throughout the course of the research.  Students generally only write one report per course, per semester.

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