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Music Subject Guide — Finding A Topic

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic for a music assignment, or repertoire for a performance can be tricky, but these tips might help:

  • Choose topics and repertoires that you are interested in. It will be much easier and much more fun for you.
  • Avoid broad topics (e.g. Opera and femininity), or narrow ones (e.g. Femininity in Italian operas performed in Rome, 1690-91). A better topic might be: Femininity in 3 selected Italian operas of the late baroque period.
  • Review your assignment guidelines, and follow instructions regarding topic selection.

The links below will provide you with extra information on choosing a topic.

Concept Mapping

For any paper you write, the most important part is determining what you are going to write about and how you can write about it. This video shows a way of doing this: concept mapping.

Narrowing A Topic

It is also very important to make sure the topic of your paper is not too broad. It can be easy to find yourself writing about a subject which could take an entire book to explain. Use the links below to narrow down your topic.

Identify Search Terms

Make a list of search terms relevant to your topic. This will help you conduct your research.

Search Term Examples
Performers, Composers, Contributors Lorde, Shastakovich, Arturo Toscanini

Musical Styles, Genres, Forms,

Traditions, Works

Renaissance motets, rockabilly, sonata-allegro form,

Japanese gagaku, Porgy & Bess

Geographical Locations

Papua New Guinae, Louisiana, 8th arrondissement of Paris, Florence, Boyle Street

Time Periods Classical, 19th Century, 1939-45
Approaches Gender Studies, anthropological, cognitive, Schenkerian