History and Literature of Music I:
Antiquity to 1800
Indiana UniversityJacobs School of Music
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The Research Project
This semester, you will undertake a research project on a topic related to the history of music in Europe or its American colonies before 1800 and engaging one or more themes of the course listed on the syllabus. Your topic must be approved by the instructors. Your project will culminate in a paper of about 10-15 pages of text (3000-4500 words), not counting figures and examples. It must be a detailed study of the issue you select, must have a single main point and a convincing argument, and must represent your own independent work and thinking, reflecting thorough research and original interpretation.
Originality need not imply that your point is entirely new. You may, for instance, take an idea you find in your reading, such as what makes Rameau's operas differ from Lully's, and test it out by comparing specific pieces to which it applies. But originality does mean that you go beyond your sources in some way and demonstrate your own thinking.
You should consider the paper an ongoing project that you work on each week. You will work closely with your discussion section instructor and with the Music Library Consultant for your section, and you are encouraged to consult with Prof. Burkholder.
Your project will unfold in several stages, with the following due dates. These stages are designed to facilitate the process of conceiving and writing a research paper in music history, to give you practice in doing what music historians do, and to allow for frequent feedback. Detailed instructions on each stage, including specific deadline times, are given below.
The research project is 25% of the course grade, with each assignment graded separately. As noted on the syllabus, you must average a passing grade on the entire research project in order to pass the course.
Topic: In choosing a topic, avoid the merely descriptive or encyclopedic. Make sure the topic is narrow enough to accomplish in the fourteen weeks you have. "The Sonata in the Seventeenth Century" is too broad, but (for instance) you might look at three Italian violin sonatas by composers of different generations and show how their approaches differ. Choosing and limiting your topic well can save you weeks of tedium and frustration. This is why early assignments focus on choosing a topic and deciding what you will say about it.
Purpose: The purpose of your paper is to convey your main point to the reader. Leave out anything that does not directly accomplish that purpose. Avoid telling the reader everything you know, or filling in unnecessary background information. Make sure that the thesis (your main point, or central idea) is stated near the beginning, that each part of the paper supports the thesis in some way, and that the relation of each paragraph to the overall argument for your thesis is clear. See the criteria below.
Style: While the content is of utmost importance, all assignments must also be printed by computer with clear dark type, double-spaced in a standard font, and polished in respect to grammar, spelling, punctuation, form, and style as defined in Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers, 8th ed. (LB2369 .T921 2013 on the Music Library Reference shelves), including correct format for footnotes and bibliography. See also the Research Project Style Sheet for guidance on style and format. Both the first and the final version of the research paper must include a thorough bibliography for the subject.
Getting Help on Your Paper
Your work on the research project will be supervised by the instructor of your section. We will discuss planning, researching, and writing a paper in class. We also encourage you to meet with your section instructor and with Prof. Burkholder for help in defining and narrowing your topic, planning your research, finding sources, arriving at a thesis, refining your argument, writing, and revising, and with your Music Library Consultant for help finding materials. We hope you will consult with us often.
The following webpages offer guidance on many aspects of your research project.
- How to Write a Music History Paper: Takes you through the steps of choosing a topic, planning research, formulating a thesis and argument, and writing a research paper.
- Some Suggested Subject Areas: Lists some possible subjects related to music of this time period, intended to start you thinking about what area you might be interested in addressing. We also recommend you browse in HWM and in the Anthologies and Books on Reserve to find topics that might interest you.
- M401: Music History Research Guide: A Music Library website designed to assist you with gathering resources for your reseach project.
- Building a Bibliography: Advice on finding the primary and secondary sources you need.
- More Help with Research: Describes a variety of research tools and offers links to many of them.
- Sample Prospectus and Bibliography: Illustrates the format of the Prospectus and Bibliography in Assignment 2.
- Music Citation—Chicago/Turabian Style: A Music Library website describing correct format for footnotes, bibliography, and other aspects of your paper.
- Research Project Style Sheet: Addresses many of the problems students encounter most frequently in writing, from issues of style and clarity to format, musical examples, quotations, and citation.
In addition to these resources and guidance from the instructors, we encourage you to visit Writing Tutorial Services in the Learning Commons on the first floor of the Wells Library at 1320 E. Tenth Street. WTS offers valuable help in writing papers. Call 812-855-6738 for an appointment, or visit their website.
You will be assigned to a peer review group of students within your section. The other members of your group will read and respond to your prospectus and the first version of your research paper, and you will read and respond to theirs.
This peer review process is designed to help you write a better paper (1) by providing additional feedback for your own work and (2) by offering you an opportunity to apply the criteria for evaluating the paper to the work of others, thus giving you a better sense of what makes for a successful paper.
When you submit work to us, you certify that it is your own. It is part of the contract between you as a student and us as instructors that you do your own work and we evaluate it and help you with it. Cheating (such as receiving significant help from someone else, or submitting a paper written by someone else), fabrication (making things up, from facts to footnotes), or plagiarism (using the ideas or words of another without giving proper credit) will all be causes for failure on the research project and thus in the course.
For the full definitions of cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism, see the Indiana University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part II, Section G. For more on plagiarism, see the Writing Tutorial Services webpage "Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It."
Because it is vital that you understand plagiarism and avoid it in your research project, you must complete the School of Education tutorial on plagiarism, pass the test, and present the confirmation certificate to your AI by Thursday, September 21. You may access the tutorial and test at https://www.indiana.edu/~academy/firstPrinciples/choice.html. We recommend that you do this as soon as possible. Assignments 3-6 will not be accepted until you have passed this test and have submitted the certificate, and they will be counted late if your certificate is not in our hands before they are due.
In order to make the class and peer review groups function well, we cannot be flexible about deadlines, except for excused absences for medical or other emergencies. Turning in an assignment up to 24 hours late will result in a reduction of one letter grade on it (or, for ungraded assignments, on the next graded assignment), and turning it in between 24 and 48 hours late will result in a reduction of two letter grades. After 48 hours, the assignment will receive an F, but still must be turned in. The next assignment will not be accepted until the missing assignment is turned in and graded. Failure to turn in an assignment at all will result in an F on the entire research project and thus in the course.
Unexcused absence from section on any day the peer review group meets will bring a penalty of one-third letter grade on the relevant assignment.
Note: Last-minute computer failure or printing delays are not acceptable excuses for late assignments. Make certain that you have two or more current back-up files and allow more than adequate time to print your assignment. This may mean printing the assignment the day before it is due. As noted on the assignments below, you will need to make multiple copies of some assignments, and you should allow time for this as well. Plan ahead.
Steps in the Process
Assignment 1: Preliminary Topic Idea (ungraded)
Due Tuesday, September 5
Write a brief statement of about 150-250 words that describes the topic area that interests you and explains how you would like to explore the topic and how it relates to the broad themes of the course listed on the syllabus.
- The purpose of this assignment is to encourage you to consider a variety of topic areas that interest you and to focus on a specific topic that is both clear enough and narrow enough to allow you to write a successful paper.
- If you know the question or questions you would like to answer in your research paper, describe them.
- If you are thinking about more than one topic, write a statement for each (up to three topics).
- As you work on this assignment, it would be good to look ahead to Assignment 2. Can you find scholarly sources that are relevant to this topic?
- Bring to your discussion section on Tuesday, September 5, two copies of Assignment 1 (one to hand in and one for you to keep), printed by computer with clear dark type, double-spaced, and in a standard font.
- Your ideas will be reviewed by Prof. Burkholder and your section instructor, who will offer feedback and guidance to help you choose a topic, define its parameters, and focus your research.
Assignment 2: Music Resources and Research Worksheet (ungraded)
Due Tuesday, September 12
Complete the Music Resources and Research Worksheet to begin the process of locating scholarly sources that are relevant to your research project. Download the worksheet
- The purpose of this assignment is to guide you through the use of online catalogs, databases, and other Music Library research tools as you begin locating sources for your research project.
- If you encounter difficulties or become confused while completing the Worksheet, describe your problem or jot down your questions onto the Worksheet so that your Music Library Consultant can better assist you.
- For each source you find, provide the correct bibliographic format as described in Turabian’s Manual, using the form labeled “B” for Bibliography. Information on Turabian format is available from the Music Library’s guide to Music Citation—Chicago/Turabian Style.
- Save your Worksheet as a Word document with your name in the file name, in this format: JPeterBurkholder_resourcesworksheet.docx
- Email your worksheet as an attachment to your section instructor AND to your Music Library Consultant by 9:05 AM on Tuesday, September 12.
- Your Music Library Consultant will return your Worksheet with written feedback on the sources you found. Feedback will address the quantity, quality, and variety of sources and correct bibliographic format. Your Worksheet with feedback will be emailed to you and to your section instructor by Tuesday, September 19.
Assignment 3: Prospectus and Bibliography (2.5% of course grade)
Due Thursday, September 28
Write a brief statement of about 250-500 words (a page or two, double-spaced) in which you indicate the idea or subject you wish to explore, explain how you plan to proceed, state your tentative thesis (the main point you wish to prove), and outline the argument you will make in support of your thesis (including the principal supporting points of your argument). If you are not yet able to state a thesis, frame the question or questions you hope to answer after further research (the answer will become your thesis).
Include with your prospectus a bibliography of at least 12 items related to the topic or useful for your paper (including items on relevant related subjects).
- The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched your topic, have begun to plan what you will say in your paper, and can use the appropriate format for your bibliography.
- In your bibliography, at least 6 items must be journal articles, articles in edited collections, or dissertations.
- You may include more than 12 items in your bibliography if you wish.
- It will be helpful to include in your bibliography books from university and trade presses, journal articles (printed or online), dissertations, and other scholarly materials, especially recent ones.
- Materials that are not acceptable include textbooks, since with few exceptions they are not based on original research; self-published and vanity press books, which have not peer-reviewed; and most websites, which have not been evaluated by reputable scholars before publication.
- Each item in the bibliography should be in correct bibliographic format as described in Turabian’s Manual, using the form labeled “B” for Bibliography. See the Music Library’s guide to Music Citation—Chicago/Turabian Style.
- Bring to your discussion section on Thursday, September 28 copies of Assignment 3 for everyone in your peer review group, plus one to hand in and one for yourself.
- Your prospectus and bibliography will be peer reviewed in class that day. Feedback will center on refining the topic; how to address the question(s) you pose; and the value and relevance of the sources you have located.
- Your prospectus and bibliography will be reviewed by Prof. Burkholder and your section instructor, who will again offer feedback and guidance to help you refine your topic, improve your thesis and argument, and further your research. In addition, feedback will address the quantity, quality, and variety of sources you have located; their relevance to your topic; and correct bibliographic format.
- Your instructor will meet with you to offer guidance, including possible directions to take (or to avoid) and resources to consult. You are also urged to discuss your project with Prof. Burkholder in person or by e-mail.
- You may be asked to write a second prospectus.
- Your topic must be approved by your instructor. If your topic changes, you must submit a new prospectus and bibliography.
Assignment 4: Meetings with AI and with Music Library Consultant (ungraded)
Due October 5-20
Meet one-on-one with your discussion section instructor to discuss your prospectus, your bibliography, and your progress on researching and writing your paper.
Separately, meet for ten minutes one-on-one with your Music Library Consultant. In the meeting, provide your Consultant with a two-minute description of your progress toward researching and writing your paper. Be prepared to discuss at least one challenge you have already overcome, or still need help with.
- The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with detailed guidance from your section instructor and one-on-one assistance from your Music Library Consultant in a confidential, low-stakes setting.
- Your AI will make an appointment to meet with you at your mutual convenience. You may choose to meet soon after receiving feedback on your prospectus, or after you have had a chance to do more work on the project, depending on your preferences and the recommendation of your AI. You are welcome to meet with your instructor more than once, as often as you find useful, but must meet at least once by October 20.
- To schedule your meeting with your Music Library Consultant, use the sign-up sheet available here or by clicking on the "Assignment 4" button on the M401: Music History Research Guide. The sign-up sheet will open on Monday, October 2. Slots may fill fast; please sign up for a time by Thursday, October 5.
- It is helpful for both your AI and your Music Library Consultant to hear about any obstacles you faced during research, so we can help you get around them and also so Music Library staff can improve research tools or make recommendations for changes and improvements to the vendors who provide library resources.
- By Thursday, October 5, arrange with your section instructor for a time to meet. Your meeting with your instructor should take place no later than Friday, October 20.
- By Thursday, October 5, use the sign-up sheet to schedule a time to meet with your Music Library Consultant. Your meeting will take place during the period from Tuesday, October 10 to Friday, October 20.
- During your meetings, your AI will provide feedback and help you to strategize how to proceed, and your Music Library Consultant provide you encouragement and further suggestions for research success.
Assignment 5: First Version of Research Paper (7.5% of course grade)
Due Tuesday, October 31
Write the first version of your research paper. As described above, your paper should be about 10-15 pages of text (3000-4500 words), not counting figures and examples. It must be a detailed study of the issue you have selected, must have a single main point and a convincing argument, and must represent your own independent work and thinking, reflecting thorough research and original interpretation.
- This should be a preliminary version of the paper that meets the specifications of the assignment as given above and the criteria given below.
- Although it may not be as finished in its argument or as polished in its writing as the final version, this first version should be as formally prepared as your final paper will be, including footnotes or endnotes, figures and examples, and finished presentation.
- Either footnotes or endnotes may be used. Notes must be must be in the correct format for footnotes and endnotes as described in Turabian’s Manual, using the form labeled “N” for Note in the printed Manual or “F” for Footnote in the Music Library’s guide to Music Citation—Chicago/Turabian Style.
- Include an updated bibliography of all the sources you used that are relevant to the topic.
- For guidance on style and format, please read through the Research Project Style Sheet before you submit your paper.
- Please send a Word file of your paper to your section instructor by 9:05 AM on Tuesday, October 31.
- In addition, bring to your discussion section that day paper copies for everyone in your peer review group, plus one to hand in and one for yourself.
- Your group will fill out peer evaluation forms on each other's papers and will discuss each other's work during discussion section on Thursday, November 2. Feedback will center on how clearly you state the thesis; how well you support it; the persuasiveness of your argument for it; and the clarity of your organization.
- Photocopy each peer evaluation form you complete, giving the original to the writer of the paper and the copy to your section instructor at the beginning of that section meeting on November 2.
- Your section instructor will evaluate your research paper in consultation with Prof. Burkholder, using the criteria and grading scale given below, and will offer suggestions for improvement.
Assignment 6: Research Paper (15% of course grade)
Due Thursday, November 30
In light of the feedback you have received, revise and finalize your paper. As described above, your paper should be about 10-15 pages of text (3000-4500 words), not counting figures and examples. It must be a detailed study of the issue you have selected, must have a single main point and a convincing argument, and must represent your own independent work and thinking, reflecting thorough research and original interpretation.
- This should be a substantially revised version of your paper, incorporating the responses of the instructors and your fellow students. Correcting minor errors in the first version is not enough; you should strive for a more focused main point, a more convincing argument, a better organization, and better writing. If you make no changes, you are likely to receive a lower grade on this assignment than on Assignment 5, because our expectations are higher.
- Please send a Word file of your paper to your section instructor and to each member of your peer review group by 9:05 AM on Thursday, November 30.
- In addition, bring to your discussion section that day a paper copy to hand in to your instructor.
- This version will be graded using the criteria and grading scale given below. Written feedback on the final version will be less detailed than for the first version.
Your research paper will be evaluated on the following criteria.
- Does it have a clear thesis, a main point to which everything else relates?
- Is the argument persuasive? Is enough evidence presented to support each point, and does each point support the thesis? Are possible counter-arguments considered and refuted?
- Are the ideas original and engaging?
- Does the paper treat the topic comprehensively, in depth, and with insight?
- Are there enough relevant, varied, and scholarly primary and secondary sources, and are the sources used well in the paper?
- Is the organization clear, both in the paper as a whole and within each paragraph?
- Have unnecessary details and redundancies been eliminated?
- style and mechanics:
- Is the paper enjoyable to read? Does it convey the writer's thought efficiently?
- Are diction, spelling, usage, sentence structure, punctuation, and footnote and bibliographic form correct?
This grading scale will be used, modified in some cases with a plus (+) or minus (-):
A. An A paper will be excellent in content, organization, and style. There will be a clear central thesis with strong supporting points and ample evidence for each assertion. The ideas will be engaging and original and will offer illuminating insights into the topic, materials, or works being studied. The topic will be treated in depth, drawing on a good number of appropriate primary and secondary sources. The organization will be clear at all levels. The paper will not include material irrelevant to the thesis and supporting arguments. There should be very few distracting errors in style, diction, and mechanics.
B. A B paper will still be quite good, but weaker than an A paper in some areas. It may have good ideas but be weakened by problems of organization and style. Or it may be well-organized and well-written but offer fewer and less valuable insights than an A paper.
C. A C paper will show a competent understanding and coverage of the topic, but its insights will usually not go beyond the obvious, and there will be weaknesses in two or more areas. A C may also be assigned to an inconsistent paper that shows some excellent insights yet fails to tie them into a unified whole.
D. A D paper has some virtues, but weaknesses in several areas. Examples include a paper with relatively few sources and little breadth of coverage, a paper with some good ideas or information marred by unclear writing and poor organization, or a clearly written paper with superficial ideas that shows a lack of engagement with the topic.
F. An F paper is consistently weak, whether poorly written throughout, lacking insight into the topic or works being studied, or reflecting little thought or effort. Papers that plagiarize, that fabricate information or sources, that rely excessively on quoting secondary sources, or that do no more than repeat what is said in class sessions or in the course textbooks will also receive an F.
Links to other documents about the term paper
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Last updated: 17 August 2017
Copyright © 1997-2017 by J. Peter Burkholder
To write an informative and enthralling musical performance review, you have to put in some effort. Of course, if you are a musician and have an in-depth understanding of music theory, musical styles and genres, then you will feel comfortable with a musical performance evaluation. But what if you do not have a musical education? There is no reason to worry. You only have to be attentive to the details of the performance and have a good ear.
Writing a musical performance review is a creative process which is based on your individual opinion and personal tastes. But it should not be just a simple description. You should focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the musical performance you evaluate. Your subjunctive judgments can be helpful for readers. But you should remember that each of your opinions needs a framework of support.
To Write a Good Musical Performance Review You Should
- Specify in what style the musicians performed.
- List the musical instruments that were used.
- Indicate whether there was a soloist among the performers.
- Consider the technical elements: the quality of sound effects and light.
- Examine the setting. Mention whether the scenery distracted attention from the performance.
- Analyze the audience. What age-groups were most prevalent in the audience?
Guidelines to write Musical Performance Review
- Introduce the musicians who gave the performance and state the name of the piece of music you evaluate.
- Specify when and where the performance occurred.
- Describe the overall musical performance in a few sentences. Be clear and precise.
- Explain how the melodies and beats played were effective and helpful in creating a general listening experience.
- Analyze the musical style. Explain whether it impressed or disappointed you.
- Divide the musical performance into three parts: beginning, main part, and end. Analyze each part.
- Give an objective description of a few compositions that were performed. Explain how they affected your feelings and emotions.
- Describe the performers. Did they have a palpable chemistry and interaction between each other? How effective was their contact with the audience?
- Mention how the audience reacted to the performance: favorably or indignantly. If you have a different opinion, explain it.
- Avoid the usage of non-specific terms and clichés, like “interesting”. Instead, use more colorful adjectives to describe the music, such as “breath-taking”, “appealing”, “fascinating”, etc.
- In a musical performance review examples, you are supposed to show your attitude towards a piece of music that was played. You should help the readers decide whether the musical performance you evaluated was worth attending or not. That is why, your review should be informative and clearly present your position. If you use musical terms that you do not comprehend fully, do some research to understand them completely before inserting them into your review.
Now you know how academic paper of this type should be written and what tips are necessary to follow. You can look through our musical performance review examples to see the connection between theory and practical skills.