Music Research Paper Assignment

Assignment Description:

Throughout the course of this semester, we have been studying different musical periods, some of which last for almost 100 years, and some of which last 1,000 years. Because of time constraints, we have only been able to focus on a few representative composers from each period. The following research-based essay is designed to show you how challenging it is to select only a few musicians to represent an entire genre or era. Based on your own research, which must move beyond our class discussions and readings, you will create an essay that accomplishes the following task:

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You work for a major textbook publishing company in the Music Appreciation Department. Your company wants to add a new chapter titled “Popular Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries” to its Music Appreciation textbook. You must select five (5) artists or groups to include as representative musicians. Keep in mind that these are the only five musicians who will be included, so you must make a strong case for what makes them essential to telling the story of how popular music has developed over nearly the last 100 years. For each artist or group, include 1-2 paragraphs that draw on the knowledge you have developed this semester to explain why they should be included.


Research and Formatting Requirements:

For this assignment, you must use at least four sources (beyond our OER – Understanding Music: Past and Present) to justify your argument. At least one of your sources must be a book or eBook. Conduct research to find at least four reliable, academic resources. Reliable, academic resources are published by a reputable journal or press. Internet sources that do not go through a rigorous publication process, or which are designed to entertain rather than inform, will not be acceptable for this assignment. That means you may not cite Wikipedia, the A&E website, the History Channel website, or However, since this is a music research-based paper, you may use periodicals like Rolling Stone, Time, Billboard, and any other magazine that covers specific genres of music (ex. Source for Rap music, Metal-Edge for Heavy Metal music, Downbeat for Jazz music etc.). Make sure that whatever information you get from the resources just mentioned should be fact-based content, not just the opinion of the writer.


Be sure to cite all the sources you consult properly using MLA format.


The papers must be 4-5 pages (that means 4 complete pages not including the Work Cited page). All final papers must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1” margins. Papers that do not meet these requirements will have significant points deducted.

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