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Music Citation Guide: Organizing your Research

Before you start looking for information...

Research projects start with a topic, but that's just the beginning.

Once you've selected a topic, you need to spend time becoming an expert on that topic.
In particular, you should be able to speak fluently about the people, places, events, and terms that are related to your topic.

So if your topic is, say, early Shostakovich string quartets, you'll want to know when the quartets were written, when they premiered, who premiered them, if they were dedicated to anyone in particular, what other works Shostakovich was working on at the time, what compositional models he used or other works that were influential to their creation, etc.

Information like this can be sketched out in a diagram that places core concepts at the center and clusters relevant facts, ideas, or thoughts in groups around those core concepts.


Which is why it's a good idea to map your topic.

Mind maps are great for a couple of reasons.

1. They get everything out of your head and on paper or screen. Which means that... 2. You can move things around and group them into clusters that can help you identify themes or patterns. Instead of just hoping that the information bouncing around in your head will suddenly collide and produce a useful thought, you can actively and thoughtfully manipulate information to synthesize new conclusions.  There are several key tools you can use to fill out your map:

  • Use Grove Music Online to access composer and performer biographies, the history of musical terms, or even the history of music in particular cities and countries.
  • Locate available and recommended scores in InfoHawk (the Library Catalog).
  • Identify recordings in either the Catalog or streaming services like Naxos for works you plan to study.