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What is music essay and how to write it?

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Piano and sheet music for music homework

One of the common assignments at schools and colleges where students grasp the musical art is, for sure, the assessment of specific musical composition. And while practicing with instruments and singing is hard indeed, writing about music is not easier, as it requires a lot of skills and knowledge of genres, techniques, and other "technical" aspects.

Nevertheless, writing an essay on music is crucial for your development as a musician. It helps to understand the true beauty of the songs and melodies, learn to define strength and weaknesses of compositions, and realize how you can make the music you create now and will work on in the future better. Therefore, you need to learn how to write an essay about music professionally, and we have gathered some practical tips that will help you with it.

Things to do before you start writing

  1. Listen.
    You will not be able to write a good music essay without listening to the composition for at least a few times. Try to relax and enjoy the first time you do it.
  2. Analyze.
    Find the parts you like the most and analyze why they sound appealing to you. Afterward, take some time to think, and listen once again, trying to spot the moments you dislike and repeat the analysis.
  3. Reflect.
    After the last sounds are gone, sit in silence for a bit. You need to understand how you feel about the musical piece and try to perceive every detail of the composition yourself.
  4. Research.
    Try to find an article about music you have listened to and see if any well-known and credible critics have left their feedbacks. It is important that you do not change your mind about the composition just to match the words of professionals unless you really agree with them on certain points.

How to write a music essay?

Every college essay about music usually has a quite specific structure that has to be followed. Here is the outline commonly requested by professors:

  • Introduction with a thesis statement

The introductory clause may contain information concerning a specific composition and several sentences about a composer. You can also include some background information – a story of the way the tune has been created. Do not forget to add a short thesis statement describing what you are going to review in your essay.

  • Body (a paragraph or a few)

The body of your paper should be focused solely on the analysis of what you have listened to. Make sure that each paragraph covers a single idea and all sentences that follow support that idea. Do not forget to identify the musical elements, style, and compositional devices that have been used. You may also share what you would change if you were a composer and why.

  • Conclusion

Summarize how you and music critics perceive the given piece, generalize the arguments, and restate your point of view that was expressed in the thesis statement. You may also recap what feelings and emotions the music peace has evoke and how they influenced your analysis. Make sure you don’t just rephrase the arguments given in the body part, but conclude from those.

Best music essay topics

If you are free to choose any topic for your essay, here are a few unique ones you may consider:

  • Musicians and their artistic explorations.
  • Why different cultures use different musical instruments?
  • Influence on the criminal levels.
  • Illegal downloading and piracy
  • Censorship in the music industry.
  • How does music influence the brain?
  • How do you believe will music change in the future?
  • Why is K-pop so popular?
  • Should musical education be compulsory?
  • What makes a song popular?

How to write a music research paper?

The research projects students are asked to complete at universities and colleges vary from major to major. Some people have to deal with term papers more, while others already got used to working on thesis papers. No matter what kind of project you are assigned, there are instructions you need to follow, and they may be similar due to the commonalities the tasks share. Here are the few major ones you need to remember before you begin to work:

  1. Choose a topic you like and spend enough time for the research. When you have a few options you think work perfectly for you, let your instructor take a look at them, and suggest what you should go with, or tell you how to make the topics more specific.
  1. Do a research.

Start researching the topic only when you are sure the teacher approves it if you do not want to find yourself wasting time. Be sure to look for credible authors in the field and sources recommended by your professor. Avoid using data from the articles that were not peer reviewed, or the websites you are not sure use trustworthy info.

  1. Create an outline.

Never start writing a paper before you have an outline. It is crucial to follow any guidelines you have regarding the structure, or look up the samples on similar topics and see what sections these works consist of. Deciding how and what you will cover before writing will help you create a consistent and focused research paper and spend less time on editing afterward.

  1. Rewrite and proofread.

While this might be the most obvious tip ever given, most of the students fail to consider it before submitting their works. It is paramount to proofread the paper once you are done writing in order to spot the mistakes and make sure the work is consistent. If you notice serious issues in any parts of the work, it is better to rewrite it completely rather than edit it, especially if you have enough time. This way, you will ensure that the submitted piece is graded highly.

Music research paper topics

Your choice of a research paper topic should mostly be based on your major and your sphere of interest. No matter what you pick, be sure to run the prompt by your professor before diving into the research process. Here are a few ideas you may choose from:

  • How does listening to music while working/studying influence performance?
  • Studying the effects of classical music on rock/pop.
  • What music is suitable for each age group?
  • Regional influences on different styles.
  • Therapeutic effects of music.
  • How will artificial intelligence influence music?
  • How did radio change people’s preferences?
  • Can music have negative effects on health?
  • Political influences on the music industry.
  • How is music used in advertising?

If you haven’t found the topics you would like to work on, think about specific genres, songwriters, composers, or songs you might be interested in writing about. You may compare and contrast or analyze them in your paper, as well as write about their influence on certain groups of people, historical periods, or important world events.

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