Posted: April 1st, 2015

writing assignment

Order Description

For your final writing assignment, choose something about your topic that interests you and
write a 5-6 page essay in which you 1) present a thesis, 2) support your thesis through historical
evidence, musical analysis, etc., and 3) offer a conclusion that explains the significance of your
findings. You should also submit a final, corrected bibliography with your paper.
Final papers must be submitted to the ROAD depository for assessment. I cannot give you a final
grade for the course until you submit your paper. Instructions for ROAD are found on the course
1. Defining your thesis: Your paper needs to establish some kind of argument. You might derive
the argument from your research into a composer’s life, analysis of the music, comparisons to
other composers, etc. The thesis must be clearly stated in your first paragraph. You do not need
to explain the entire history of music. In fact, the more specific your thesis, the easier it will be to
support it in such a short paper. Some suggestions for finding a thesis:
a. As you research your composer, note where scholars disagree on some facet of the composer’s
life, the stylistic origins of his/her music, the style of the music, etc.
b. Spend time with some music by your composer. Analyze the form, genre conventions,
scoring, and texts (if it is vocal music). How does your composer’s works compare to the generic
conventions studied in class? Are there certain qualities in the music that sound odd to you?
Questions like these are usually solved through a combination of historical research and musical
c. Be creative. Ask yourself questions that are not addressed in your sources.
d. Be sure that your thesis is narrow enough that you can answer the question in just 4-5 pages.
You are encouraged to meet with your instructor to discuss your thesis or any other aspect
of the paper.
2. Supporting your thesis: There is no single, correct way to support a thesis. You will need to
be creative, use your sources efficiently, and spend time with the music. Some suggestions for
supporting a thesis:
a. Take good notes on your sources. Find appropriate information that is relevant to your
principal thesis.
b. When discussing musical works, do not narrate through the piece. Choose examples that
support your thesis. If you find yourself writing blow-by-blow narration, then re-organize your
thoughts around what is essential to your thesis.
c. Outline your thoughts (on paper, not just in your head). Keep asking yourself questions to see
if there are holes in your argument.
3. Conclusion: A conclusion should not be just a restatement of your thesis. Tell the reader what
they have learned from your essay. You can consider the big picture (what have we learned about music of this time period as a result of your research? How might this essay alter the way
we could think about other composers?).

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