Whether it’s for a fine arts course, a music appreciation class, or just a general assignment to build writing skills, music essays are an integral part of the musical education world.
Students are often assigned to write a music essay on a specific topic or one based on their interests. While it may seem overwhelming at first, writing music essays can actually be fun and rewarding.
The Fundamentals of Writing a Music Essay
Before a student can begin writing a music essay, there are a few key fundamentals to be aware of. These fundamentals will ensure that a paper is written to the student’s potential and will benefit them in their future musical studies.
Understand the Music
Listening to a piece of music and understanding a piece of music are two different things. While listening to music lets a student know what the piece is like, it does not necessarily allow them to understand the music’s more profound meaning.
This means that before writing a music essay, students must study their selected piece of music in depth. This might entail listening repeatedly or reading an analysis on the piece to gain a thorough comprehension. It could also mean researching the composer and their life to understand what effect their life might have had on the music.
Another option is to research the genre that the piece belongs to or even its historical context. Full knowledge of all these elements will ensure a deeper understanding of what is being listened to so that the writing is more profound.
Enhance Your Vocabulary
In music, there are specific words to describe sounds, aspects of the sound, and even emotions. Without an understanding of these words, a student will not be able to write a music essay to the highest degree possible.
Instead of saying the music is good or bad, students will need to expand their vocabulary to include more descriptive words such as :
These words allow a student to describe the music in much more depth than just ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They provide readers with an idea of what is felt when listening and can better explain how the piece makes the writer feel.
Note that not only should you include these types of adjectives in your music essay, but also try to limit “big” or overused adjectives such as beautiful, stunning, amazing.
Know How to Cite
Often, to back up claims or provide context to musical analysis, it is essential to cite in the proper format so that a paper is academic and can be taken seriously. In a music essay, students will need to include proper citations that show where they got their information from after writing a quote or paraphrasing something said by someone else.
Citations are essential for another reason: they allow other people to investigate the source of your work for themselves to check its validity. Failure to cite sources and examples may diminish the credibility of the writing in the reader’s eyes.
When citing a lyric, be sure to include the songwriter’s name and the name of the piece. It is also important to remember to place a line break before and after the quote and use quotation marks for lyrics.
When citing a critique, be sure to include the author’s name and relevant background information such as their profession, where they got their degree from, and when their piece was published. It is then necessary to place a line break before and after the quote, italicize the author’s name, and include a page number if applicable to your citation.
The Different Types of Music Essay
A music essay can be written in a variety of formats or styles. Most commonly, a music essay will fall into one of three categories:
Musical analysis is a description of a piece of music. This usually includes describing the song’s mood, tempo, and melody as well as its historical context, genre, composer, and so forth.
Students may examine and critique the composition of a piece, or they might discuss the feelings that the music conveys. In short, a musical analysis should describe what is heard and explain to the reader how it made them feel.
Students use their research skills to provide others with information about a certain topic in an informative essay. This can include an explanation of something musical such as the history of a genre, how it developed over time, and so forth.
A persuasive essay is one in which students argue for or against something. For example, for music essays, students argue whether they believe that one piece of music is better than another or whether they prefer a specific style or genre.
This is an opportunity for students to make their voice heard by giving personal reasons for why something is good or bad and can be used to compare two distinct pieces of work through direct comparison or contrast.
110 Music Essay Topics
With the fundamentals of writing a music essay above, students may still have trouble coming up with the right topic for their writing assignment. Fortunately, this list of 110 music essay topics is perfect for any writer level and is guaranteed to spark at least one idea for a music essay.
Music Essay Topics About Genre
- Which music genre has had the most impact in modern times?
- How have musical genres changed or developed over the past 100 years?
- Which is musical genre is best for teaching an instrument?
- Which is musical genre do you think has the most talent involved?
- How has technology influenced musical genres over the past 50 years?
- What musical genres are no longer seen in modern times?
- Are there musical genres that shouldn’t be used in today’s society?
- Are musical genres really all the same?
- Compare and contrast two different musical genres?
- How do musical genres influence each other?
- What is the best way to discover the type of musical genre you like?
- Which platforms are best for a particular type of musical genre?
- Are music genres meant for certain audiences?
- Which musical genres are the least biased by modern culture?
- What makes a song belong to a particular genre?
- Can a musical genre be broken down further than it already is?
- How have technology and fashion influenced popular genres of music over time?
- How has globalization impacted different musical genres?
- Which style of music is the most popular in your country?
- Which musical genres typically get the least respect from society?
- What is the history of a particular musical genre?
- Are there any specific songs that belong to a certain genre?
- How have political issues influenced musical genres over time?
- Is it harder to write a song in one musical genre or another?
- Why do some people prefer one style or genre over another?
- In what circumstances do you listen to particular types of music?
- Which type of genre would be best for specific occasions?
- What are the differences between modern and classical genres?
Music Essay Topics About Classical Music
- What is the most significant piece of classical music?
- How did certain pieces of classical music change over time?
- Does one specific style better illustrate a particular piece of classical music?
- How is musical structure important in modern-day classical pieces of work?
- Why are certain classical pieces of work good to listen to when stressed out?
- How does one piece of classical music compare to another?
- What is the history behind a particular piece of classical work?
- Which musical instruments are typically used in classical music?
- Why is classical music better for different types of people?
- Compare and contrast how two classical composers created their work?
- What influenced a piece of significant classical music?
- How do the notes in classical music differ from modern-day pop music?
- What makes a piece of music classical?
- Should classical music be learned before other types of music?
- What developmental benefits does classical music have on newborns?
- Who was Mozart, and why is he considered one of the most significant composers in history?
- How does Western classical music differ from that in other countries?
- Why was Beethoven’s work superior within its time period?
- What makes Mozart different than other composers?
- How can people improve their understanding of classical music?
- How does the style and context influence the choice of musical instruments for specific pieces of classical music?
- Why should children learn about classical music as part of their education?
Music Essay Topics About Music Theory
- Which is more important to music: theory or practice?
- How have new musical instruments influenced the theory behind music?
- Are there any specific rules for using melodies and harmonies in music?
- What are examples of non-traditional music theory?
- Why do some people want to expand the boundaries of traditional music theory?
- Are there any movements currently challenging traditional music theory?
- Why is music theory important in modern-day music?
- What are some types of modern-day musical compositions that ignore traditional music theory?
- How have technological advances influenced traditional and non-traditional forms of music theory?
- Which type of theory do you prefer: traditional or non-traditional?
- What makes a piece of music sound like jazz?
- What is the difference between musical form and music theory?
- Which types of pieces best illustrate different theories in music?
- What can non-traditional forms of music teach students about classical forms of music?
- In what circumstances is music theory advanced?
- What are some similarities between classical and modern-day musical compositions?
- How has the Internet influenced traditional and non-traditional forms of music theory today?
- Who was Leonard Bernstein, and how did he influence American society through his music theory contributions?
- How do different cultures use a similar or different form of music theory?
- Which is more difficult: playing music by ear or reading sheet music?
- Which musical theory from the past is still valid in today’s society?
- What are examples of outdated musical theories?
Music Essay Topics About Instruments
- What instruments sound the best in music?
- How do the instruments used in jazz differ from those used in rock and roll?
- Is there a best way to play a specific instrument?
- Why do orchestras typically use certain instruments?
- Which instrument is most beneficial to the beginner musician learning to play music?
- What are some types of non-traditional instruments used in musical compositions today?
- Who were the first modern musicians to impact society through their use of new and different instruments?
- What benefits do different types of instruments have on a musical composition?
- What are some traditions followed when playing certain instruments in music?
- What is the history behind unique musical instruments?
- Who were the first people to experiment with new sounds on instruments with different tones and chords?
- What’s the difference between playing with sound effects and using natural sounds?
- How has technology influenced the use and creation of musical instruments today?
- Which instruments should people learn to play first: traditional or non-traditional ones?
- Compare and contrast the sounds of woodwind instruments to brass instruments.
- Should percussion instruments be considered a type of classical music instrument or a type of pop music instrument?
- What types of musical instruments are used in different types of foreign musical compositions?
- How do people learn to play new instruments today?
- How have old and modern musical instruments been combined to create unique sounds in songs?
- What is the history behind musical instruments?
- What are some traditional musical instruments still used today?
- How can people make their own musical instruments at home with household items?
- What was the first instrument ever invented?
Music Essay Topics About Singing
- What is the difference between singing and vocalizing?
- What is autotune, and how has it affected the music industry?
- Is music with autotune better or worse than music without?
- Should singers be allowed to use autotune in their performances?
- What are the best types of vocal ranges for singers?
- Who is famous for singing songs with wide vocal ranges?
- Is it better to sing high or low notes in music today?
- How do male and female singers compare with each other regarding their voices?
- What are the different types of musical compositions that use vocals?
- How do popular artists use vocalization in their songs?
- Who was Kurt Cobain, and what did he do to change the face of music and singing?
- Are there any negatives associated with using autotune in a song today?
- Do all singers need to use autotune to sound better in their songs?
- What are the five main parts that make up the human voice, and how do they work together to create singing?
- How does pitch play a role in different types of music genres?
Using any of the 110 music essay topics listed above should provide the inspiration needed to write a great music essay.