How to Write a Classical Music Report Paper for College

Structural photography of library interior.jpg

Writing about classical music and performances is challenging. Writing well about music, as well as aesthetic topics in general, requires a careful attention to detail, an awareness of your own subjective responses to the object and the ability to make a convincing argument. Writing music reports is a typical assignment in college-level music appreciation classes. In addition to developing good writing skills, the goal is to say something about music rather than simply writing about your own subjective feelings.

1 Take a notebook with you

Take a notebook with you to the concert. Jot down details about the performers and the venue. After the concert is over, write a brief description of the concert along with your impressions of it while the performance is still fresh in your mind.

2 Sketch out a descriptive outline

Sketch out a descriptive outline of the performance. Include the names of the performers, the names of the pieces that were performed, the venue and atmosphere, and the general reaction of the audience. Include specific details about the music itself concerning the instrumentation, the rhythm, the texture and tempo of music.

3 Develop a thesis

Develop a thesis and sketch an outline for your argument. A college-level music paper should be able to present a critical analysis, rather than simply a description of the performance. The goal of music analysis, like any aesthetic analysis, is to present an argument that has objective validity rather than simply being a list of subjective impressions. Objectivity is achieved through mounting a convincing and persuasive argument. A convincing argument relies upon evidence to make the case.

4 Write an introductory paragraph with a clear topic sentence

Write an introductory paragraph with a clear topic sentence. The topic sentence sums up the gist of the paper in one sentence. The remainder of the paper lays out the steps of the argument. For example, if the analysis has five essential points, briefly summarize the five steps in the introduction.

5 Write the main body

Write the main body of the paper. Fill in all the details of the analysis and end with a conclusion. The conclusion reiterates the primary points of the paper and it may also anticipate and answer possible objections.

6 Critically proofread the paper

Critically proofread the paper. Mark places that are repetitive, irrelevant, and unclear or ambiguous. Either delete the marked passages or rewrite them so that they are expressed in a different way that contributes to the paper.

  • The more informed you are about classical music and music criticism makes the job much easier. Take the time to read classical music reviews in newspapers, magazines and journals.

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.