Music-culture Research

So far, we have examined and analyzed a number of different international music-cultures (or “musicultures,” as Bakan calls them). For your final task, you have the freedom to choose the subject you wish to investigate. Select one of the two options below and then decide how you will “present” your findings.

Subject:

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Research a music-culture that interests you.

  • You are welcome to investigate a subject related to a music-culture of your choice from any part of the world.
  • It is best if you focus your attention on one particular object of this music-culture, such as a song, musical genre, musical instrument, famous singer or band, or even an important location associated with music.
  • Your investigation should draw upon at least one of the major themes we discussed in this course, such as Bakan’s definition of tradition or issues of music and gender, globalization, spirituality, power, or identity.
  • Your essay must use a minimum of 4 significant sources for your paper (one of which can be the Bakan textbook) and include an in-depth cultural or musical analysis of at least one musical composition or song.
  • Present your findings in the format of a written essay of between 1500 – 2000 words + (roughly 5-7 pages, double-spaced).

Other Points:

  • Sources: You will be expected to use at least four significant sources for your subject. I’m expecting you to go beyond Wikipedia entries, Google searches, and the many sketchy websites you might find to more formal sources of information about your music-culture, such as articles written for academic journals (JSTOR and RILM are good databases for these types of sources) or respected media organizations (e.g. Rolling Stone, Downbeat, NPR, PBS, the BBC, etc.). (I’ve posted links to useful research sites below.) Your aim here is to find good secondary and even primary sources to help you understand your subject from people who know about them well.
  • Use appropriate musical and cultural terminology we’ve learned in this course.
  • Use a thesis: Your style will be argumentative, so your introduction will include a thesis (i.e. your main point or argument) that you will then support with evidence you gathered through musical and cultural analysis.
  • Bibliography – use any system with which you are comfortable (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago), but use it correctly and consistently. A good resource for bibliographic citations is the Purdue Online Writing Lab – Website 

Doing the Research:

For this project you are asked to reference a minimum of least four significant sources, at least two of which must be academic sources. There are plenty of options for finding good sources on your selected music-culture.

I. CSUEB University Library, “Music Resource Web Site” Web Link

  • This page contains a collection of links to databases where you can find excellent sources for your research. Some of them are related with music. Others, such as JSTOR and Academic Search Complete, are more general, but your searches can be narrowed to focus on music.
  • In regards to World Music on this web page, check out the following databases:
  • Oxford Music Online – This is a comprehensive resource that includes the Grove Dictionary of Music (the principle scholarly music reference source in English), as well as the sources written for more general readership. Check this out for basic information about a musician, performer, or cultural group.
  • Garland Encyclopedia of World Music – The digital edition of the 9-volume authoritative ethnomusicology encyclopedia in English. You can use this excellent source to locate information about your music-culture and famous musicians associated with it. To access a text volume, click on “view” by the cover image; to access sound recordings, select from the list on the left of the screen.
  • Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries – In partnership with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, a streaming audio collection.
  • African American Music Reference – Reference books relevant for a wide range of musical expressions of African American culture.
  • Alexander Street Press Online Collections – The front end for searching the whole of Alexander Street Press, not only the performing arts collections. There are many different kinds of sources here. Browse the collection and you might find links to what you’re looking for.
  • Music Online: American Song – Streaming audio of vernacular and commercial American music.
  • Contemporary World Music – Streaming audio of music from around the world, primarily commercial genres, with some folk and art traditions represented..
  • Jazz Music Library – A large, comprehensive collection of jazz in a streaming audio database.

II. Online Guides to World Music Research

Good summaries about the blues and links to additional sources. Remember that our University Library can access just about any source you need. Just ask a librarian for help.

 

III. Media Sites

Which often have great documentaries and stories about world music performers:

 

Citing Your Sources:

  • Remember that your final essay will need to correctly cite any detailed information you take from a source, whether or not you quote it.
  • The University Library website has very good citing information, including a section on citing musical sources:
  • Research How-Tos: Cite Your Sources – Web Link 
  • How To Cite Music – Web Link 

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