Music research topic suggestions?

Posted by: davaofthekeys

Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 04:50 PM

Hi,

I'm about to write my final college paper, it's like a research paper, and the subject is free, though it should tie into teaching in some way if possible. Being a pianist and music teacher, I really want to write something about music, the only problem is that I can't for the life of me come up with a question I'm curious enough to write about for 20 pages right now!

So please, if you have any suggestions, I'd really appreciate it. Then hopefully I will get some inspiration to be able to create my own topic

Thanks!
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 05:00 PM

There's a great article on neuroscience and piano study in the MTNA e-Journal next month. Maybe look there for ideas?

Another idea would be to do a history of piano methods. Figure out what the trends in pedagogy are and how today's methods compare.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 05:09 PM

I like the whole practice vs. innate talent debate (on which there has been a lot written, and it's always nice to write a research paper where there's a lot of literature out there to summarize).

Another topic might be factors associated with high levels of accomplishment as a musician. That could tangentially refer to the practice vs. talent literature as well as some others, e.g., there's studies showing that certain characteristics of teachers are important predictors of later success as a musician (warm, fuzzy teachers at the very beginning of study and stricter, more musically accomplished teachers are more important in later study).

I taught a seminar on the psychology of music last fall. Somewhere there is a thread with my reading assignments. You might pick up some ideas and/or sources to look up in it.

[edit: the search function actually functioned for me, and I found the thread; click here. ]
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 06:21 PM

While I usually encourage students to find their own topics and not rely on the suggestions of others (how do you know that what others suggest is going to interest you any more than the (uninteresting) topics you've thought of?), you might want to investigate the pros and cons of individual vs group instruction in piano or, related to that, individual instruction on an acoustic instruments vs. group instruction on digital keyboards.

Regards,
Posted by: Brandon_W_T

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 06:32 PM

Right now in Music theory we are studying Bach's Writing techniques, specifically his Chorale works.

That would be a big topic to discuss, and I find it interesting, maybe others would be too.


Im writing a 4 part chorale right now for class. Its fairly easy stuff, but you have to know a lot to follow the way Bach does
Rules are like

1) In root position, double the bass
2) In 1st inversion double the soprano or bass
3) 2nd inversion same as above
4) Smooth voice leading
-No leaps higher than a perfect 4th
-bass can leap though.
and so on

Kinda interesting, and sure makes for great music. Good thing to know when writing chorale works!
Posted by: Elissa Milne

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 09:41 PM

Originally Posted By: davaofthekeys
Hi,

I'm about to write my final college paper, it's like a research paper, and the subject is free, though it should tie into teaching in some way if possible. Being a pianist and music teacher, I really want to write something about music, the only problem is that I can't for the life of me come up with a question I'm curious enough to write about for 20 pages right now!

So please, if you have any suggestions, I'd really appreciate it. Then hopefully I will get some inspiration to be able to create my own topic

Thanks!


20 pages is how many words? And are you supposed to be doing a literature review, or some empirical research of your own? And what's the time frame?

A good suggestion will factor in these parameters.

One piece of advice - make your topic really specific so that you can cover it properly without exceeding your word limit or taking too much time.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 09:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
[...]
20 pages is how many words? And are you supposed to be doing a literature review, or some empirical research of your own? And what's the time frame?


In my university days, one figured on (approximately) 250 words per typewritten page - huh? what's "a typewritten page?" you ask! Twenty pages should be around 5,000 words.

Regards,
Posted by: Googlism

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/23/10 10:33 PM

While not directly related to piano music, I've always wanted to do a research paper on what makes certain music songs great hits. Is it the artist's voice, the lyrics, the melody, the beat or something else? For example when it comes to Hip Hop, many of the great hits have fabulous beats and melodies, but meaningless lyrics. And I'd probably add on that this means the producer, not the artist, deserves the credit (and the Grammies and what not). If you want to get all technical, maybe you can try and look for some empirical research on brain responses to musical cues. Though I do not know how to implement teaching into this topic!

If want something related specifically to piano, why not stir the controversial pot and ask if teaching theory and history results in a better musician.
Posted by: custard apple

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 12:29 AM

I like Monica's suggestion. My brother is a nerd and has done a thesis on whether there are certain proteins in an athlete's muscles that make them more athletic than the average human (translation from Dad).
Further to Elissa's comment about length and topic depth, my brother did all the hypotheses, experiments and research himself. Monica says there is existing research on musical propensity. 20 pages is not a lot for such a profound topic.
Posted by: Elissa Milne

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 12:37 AM

5000 words disappears before you've made much of a dent in the topic at all... Choose something terribly specific and then really cover it well. If you stick to exploring existing literature rather than undertaking your own research you could cover a broader topic...
Posted by: DadAgain

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 12:52 AM

I remember pondering this when I had to write my music disertation in my final year at uni. I HAD to pick something that woudl interest me or writing 10,000 words was not going to be possible.

In the end I chose to write about the use of psychoactive drugs in popular music and did lots of interesting physiological research into the effects of various drugs on the brain together with analysis of common signature patterns in various genres of popular music. The dissertation was handed in together with a recording of a selection of tracks to illustrate my points (a *fantastic* compilation album)

My professor summarised the period well for me: "I think you may have taken the practical side of your research a little too seriously - but its an interesting read nonetheless. Perhaps you should think about researching it properly and doing a PhD?"

A few years after graduating I met a few other ex-students and discovered that so far my dissertation remains the only one ever to have knowingly been stolen from the university library!

The point - choose something that you dont mind reading up ALOT about and where you have half a chance of people being at least mildly interested when you talk about it and then you'll be fine. - Oh yeah - and ideally it should have at least some tenuous link back to your subject (in your case teaching)!
Posted by: Andromaque

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 06:24 AM

Originally Posted By: BruceD


In my university days, one figured on (approximately) 250 words per typewritten page - huh? what's "a typewritten page?" you ask! Twenty pages should be around 5,000 words.

Regards,


Those pages must have been generously marginated! I cannot compare side-by-side but I have a visual impression of a typewritten page being far more crowded than today's computerized outputs.
Yet using a word processor (eg MS word) and a standard 10 font , you get close to 400 words (with paragraphs, subtitles and double-spaced for maximal "space wasting" ). So a 20 page requirement is more substantial than first meets the eye. Most page indications will exclude references, figures, legends and footnotes from the page counts.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 06:26 AM

Originally Posted By: davaofthekeys
the only problem is that I can't for the life of me come up with a question I'm curious enough to write about for 20 pages right now!
You sure you're on the right course there Buddy?
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 06:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
There's a great article on neuroscience and piano study in the MTNA e-Journal next month. Maybe look there for ideas?
The Flash really sucks. I tried printing a page instead - most of the page came out solid black! I'm probably now out of ink. How does Mr Fraser manage to ingratiate himself everywhere?
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 07:21 AM

I download the pdf and read it that way - much easier than the flash version.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 08:43 AM

Perchance a link?
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 10:41 AM

You can compare different teaching methods. There are many out there, so that'll be interesting. Mainly for kids though.

I have to do that for a major paper.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 01:09 PM

Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Perchance a link?


There's a button at the top of the Flash version that downloads the pdf. As far as I know, there's no direct link.
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 02:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler

There's a button at the top of the Flash version that downloads the pdf.
Yeh, between share and help? They don't give me that one!
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 05:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Andromaque
Originally Posted By: BruceD


In my university days, one figured on (approximately) 250 words per typewritten page - huh? what's "a typewritten page?" you ask! Twenty pages should be around 5,000 words.

Regards,


Those pages must have been generously marginated! I cannot compare side-by-side but I have a visual impression of a typewritten page being far more crowded than today's computerized outputs.
Yet using a word processor (eg MS word) and a standard 10 font , you get close to 400 words (with paragraphs, subtitles and double-spaced for maximal "space wasting" ). So a 20 page requirement is more substantial than first meets the eye. Most page indications will exclude references, figures, legends and footnotes from the page counts.


Not so much a question of margins but, rather, a question of type size. In "those days" most of the typewriters we students wrote with were in 'pica,' a 12-point font. In 12-point Times New Roman, I get 260 words per page. The same document "reduced" to 10-point yielded 403 words per page; quite a difference!

All our professors, accustomed to the more or less ubiquitous 12-point type sizes of most typewriters used then, expected and announced approximately 250 words per page.

In current usage, for 'academic' documents, is there a preference stated for a 10- or 12-point font? A difference between 5,000 and 8,000 words in a 20-page document is quite a significant difference. Perhaps word count is the standard and not number of pages unless a font size is stipulated in the latter case?

Regards,
Posted by: currawong

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/24/10 06:20 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Not so much a question of margins but, rather, a question of type size.
Exactly what I was thinking. And double-spaced, with margins. I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't care to try and read too many papers printed in 10-point. We were required to use quarto size paper - now extinct and replaced (here, anyway!) with A4 - so that probably made it even easier to read.
We had a word number requirement, not page number, and just to be sure I used to do an actual count (roughly) most of the time. Not that I'm obsessive or anything...
Posted by: ianholic

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/25/10 01:55 PM

I'm sure you will find lots of interesting topics if you venture into the direction of music perception (or perhaps you are not interested in it?). A long time ago, I had a conversation with a prof, who mentioned there was virtually no pianist playing Bach at recitals before 1980s (or more like before Gould did). Perhaps a historical review of performance repertoir trends would be interesting? Or the effect of early music training and absolute pitch?
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/25/10 03:40 PM

Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Not so much a question of margins but, rather, a question of type size.
Exactly what I was thinking. And double-spaced, with margins. I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't care to try and read too many papers printed in 10-point. We were required to use quarto size paper - now extinct and replaced (here, anyway!) with A4 - so that probably made it even easier to read.
We had a word number requirement, not page number, and just to be sure I used to do an actual count (roughly) most of the time. Not that I'm obsessive or anything...


... and of course, with a word-processed document, all you need do is click on "Properties" and the total word count is given to you. One doesn't even have to count. Students have it so easy these days, right? smile

Cheers!
Posted by: davaofthekeys

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/25/10 04:09 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions!

I'm currently thinking along the lines of what different teching methods for piano are being used today, or if that subject turns out to be too broad, perhaps just focusing on how to teach one specific aspect of playing, like sight-reading or preventing injuries.
Posted by: Andromaque

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/25/10 05:30 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Not so much a question of margins but, rather, a question of type size.
Exactly what I was thinking. And double-spaced, with margins. I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't care to try and read too many papers printed in 10-point. We were required to use quarto size paper - now extinct and replaced (here, anyway!) with A4 - so that probably made it even easier to read.
We had a word number requirement, not page number, and just to be sure I used to do an actual count (roughly) most of the time. Not that I'm obsessive or anything...


... and of course, with a word-processed document, all you need do is click on "Properties" and the total word count is given to you. One doesn't even have to count. Students have it so easy these days, right? smile

Cheers!



pica 12!! I learn something at PW every day. And quarto! Thanks guys.
In my neck of academics, page indications come with font specification and more commonly documents are requested in word counts. I used to have professors who never got rid of their typewriters though. I distinctly remember one of them being able (to my surprise) to type in black and red on the same document.. Never figured how he does it..
Posted by: Elissa Milne

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/25/10 06:40 PM

really??? (re typing in black and red) - it's all in the ribbon.....
Posted by: currawong

Re: Music research topic suggestions? - 02/25/10 06:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Andromaque
I distinctly remember one of them being able (to my surprise) to type in black and red on the same document.. Never figured how he does it..
As Elissa says, it's all in the ribbons. There's a black and a red, and you can simply toggle between the two. Or, more accurately, some ribbons have a black half and a red half. Same deal. (but the black half always wears out before the red half!)