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Music: Get Started

Starting point for basic research on music topics.

Find a Topic

Where to Find Ideas

  • Class discussions or readings
  • Social media
  • Articles in discipline related journals and trade publications
  • Relevant current events

Gather Background Information

Why should I start with background information?

  • Gain familiarity with the topic
  • Identify more specific aspects of the topic on which to focus
  • Provide context and identify differing perspectives
  • Identify experts related to the topic

Encyclopedias and dictionaries can be good places to gain a basic understanding of your topic. The encyclopedias and dictionaries in music give information on composers, musical works, instruments, genres of music, and musical terms, and are available in both electronic and print formats.





Narrow or Refine Your Topic

Narrowing a topic requires you to be more specific about your research interest and can help you to develop a thesis.

Questions to Narrow Your Topic

  • Who? Who is the specific person/group to which you would like to limit your research?
  • What? What specific aspect of the broad topic idea is interesting to you?
  • Where? To which specific geographic area or region would you like to limit your research?
  • When? On what time period would you like your research focused?
  • Why? Why do you think this is an important/interesting topic?

What is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis is typically a one sentence statement in the first paragraph, or beginning, of your project that states your purpose. Thesis statements should be arguable, specific, detailed, and meaningful.

How to Develop a Good Research Topic

How to Use Gale Virtual Reference Library

Using Wikipedia for Academic Research

This tutorial explains how to use Wikipedia as an exploratory tool and where it can appropriately fit in the research process. Created by Michael Baird, Cooperative Library Instruction Project (CLIP)

Helpful Handout :: Narrowing Your Topic

This handout illustrates how a research question develops from a broad topic to a focused question.