Sampsel Music Research Assignment

"Methods of Music Research" is a graduate-level research course that will prepare students to identify and explore the wide array of research materials available for in-depth study of topics within the musical discipline. Students will develop a working knowledge of both printed and online resources and will hone their bibliographic writing skills.

Coursework will include required readings and writing assignments, guided online discussions and a series of short-term research projects.

This course is suitable for teachers, performers and any others working in the professional music field. Periodic access to a library with a music reference section is recommended to be completely successful in this course. If you have questions regarding this class, please contact the instructor.

MU 317 (Music Theory V).

Textbooks and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • Music Research: A Handbook, 2nd Ed.
    Sampsel, Laurie J.
    ISBN: 978-0195171198


  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Ed. (2010)
    University of Chicago Press
    ISBN: 978-0226104201


Sienna Wood


This course acquaints students with the field of music bibliography. We will explore the types of research and reference tools employed in the study of music, and we will discuss the variety of problems these resources present. The purpose of this course is to provide a foundation of skills for pursuing music-related research throughout your careers. At the conclusion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Identify, summarize, and apply principles and methods of (music) research.
  2. Name, distinguish between, and critically evaluate the sources and tools used in music research, including library catalogs, periodicals indexes, databases, literature about music, and editions of music.
  3. Demonstrate the elements that constitute an effective research paper, including developing a paper topic, developing research questions, formulating an argument, writing clearly, and citing sources consistently using an appropriate documentation style.
  4. Plan and develop a search strategy to find useful information for your research project, incorporating both digital and “traditional” print resources.
  5. Seek, find, and evaluate information for a research project.
  6. Present and summarize your research project and findings in a professional presentation suitable for an audience of your peers.

The success of the course depends on your active participation. You are expected to engage with the material, evaluate and discuss it in class, and assume a teaching role when introducing new tools and concepts to others. By working closely with the sources and applying evaluative skills, you will begin to gain mastery over the research process.


Graduate standing in a degree program of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance or the School of Information. If you have special interests or needs, please speak with the instructor.

Materials (Readings)


Please purchase these books from your preferred vendor as soon as possible. Links to the books are provided via Amazon, but this is not intended as an endorsement; used books (often cheaper) can also be found through Alibris, Abebooks (an Amazon subsidiary), etc. Shop around!

Additional texts will be available on the CTools site ( or at the library (


In addition to the required texts, a list of other useful books is given below. None of them is required, but you may find them helpful for finding other perspectives or more detail on certain topics. NB: many are available on the reference shelf in the music library.

Books on music research, writing

  • Vincent H. Duckles and Ida Reed, Music Reference and Research Materials: An Annotated Bibliography, 5th ed. (Schirmer, 1997) [UM: Z 6811 .D83]
  • Pauline Shaw Bayne, A Guide to Library Research in Music (Scarecrow Press, 2008) [UM: ML 3797 .B29 2008 (on Music Reference shelves)]
  • Jane Gottlieb, Music Library and Research Skills (Prentice Hall, 2009) [UM: ML 3797 .G68 2009]
  • Jonathan Bellman, Short Guide to Writing about Music, 2nd ed. (Longman, 2006)
  • Richard Wingell, Writing about Music: An Introductory Guide, 4th ed. (Prentice Hall, 2008)
  • D. Kern Holoman, Writing about Music: A Style Sheet, 2nd ed. (Univ. of California Press, 2008)
  • Quick guide to citing music resources (Turabian style) from U. Western Ontario


  • William Zinsser, On Writing Well, 30th anniversary ed. (Harper Perennial, 2006)
  • Eviatar Zerubavel, The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books (Harvard Univ. Press, 1999)
  • William Strunk and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, 4th ed. (Longman, 1999)
  • Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Random House, 1994)
  • Verlyn Klinkenborg, Several Short Sentences About Writing (Knopf, 2012)
  • [This is new and unvetted but looks to be appealingly pragmatic: excerpts]

General research

  • Wayne C. Booth, Gregory C. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, 3rd ed. (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2008)
  • Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff, The Modern Researcher, 6th ed. (Wadsworth, 2003)
  • Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed. (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2007)
  • Pertti Altasuutari, Researching Culture: Qualitative Method and Cultural Studies (Sage, 1995)
  • Robert Peters, Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D., rev. ed. (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997)
  • Many of the major citation and style guides, including complete access (with UM login) to the Chicago Manual of Style, are online. See the Library’s “Citation and Style Guidelines” page.


Music Library Journals (available online or through the library)

  • Notes (Journal of the Music Library Association)
  • Music Reference Services Quarterly (since 1997)
  • Fontes Artes Musicae

Useful databases

  • RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale, International Repertory of Music Literature), currently provided by CSA
  • IIMP (International Index of Music Periodicals), provided by ProQuest
  • Music Index Online, provided by EBSCO
  • Project MUSE (Director’s MUSINGS blog)
  • JSTOR (Journal STORage Project)
  • WorldCat (union catalog from the Online Computer Library Center, this link provides general access, but validated access through the Library website will give you access to more information)
  • To find, search for the acronyms via search tools or the main search box on the Library website.

Blogs (just links, not intended to endorse reliability of content)


Course readings and class participation (20%)

The success of this course depends on the participation of each and every person. Attendance is crucial. Excessive unexcused absences (more than two) will affect your final grade.

Conscientious participation in class is equally important and requires thoughtful engagement with the readings. In short: Students are expected to do the reading for each meeting, as outlined in the schedule below, in a timely manner (i.e., before class meetings). Longer version: There will be regular reading assignments, typically for each class meeting. The assignments are listed on the schedule below. Unless otherwise instructed, please complete the week’s readings before Tuesday’s class.

The following two activities will also be included in your participation grade:

  1. “Writing about music well” exercise (October 2)
  2. Writing sample, for peer review (TBD)

Response Papers and Projects (40%)

These assignments are meant to build toward your final bibliographic essay. With this in mind, you should feel free to tailor your work to meet your own particular needs and interests.

  1. Grove response paper (September 18)
  2. Online exploratory blogpost (October 9)
  3. Annotated bibliography (October 18)
  4. Critique a critical edition (November 6)

Project and Presentation (40%)

The final project for this course consists of a 10–15 page bibliographic essay. The topic may relate to your instrument and its repertory; it may be historical or theoretical in emphasis; or it may focus on either one musical work or an identifiable group of musical works. Project presentations, to be held at the end of the semester, offer a semi-formal opportunity to share what you have learned with others. Given the substantial nature of the project, it is divided into smaller deliverables that you will hand in throughout the term:

  1. Project prospectus (due September 25)
  2. Introduction (incl. research question) and outline (due October 23)
  3. Rough draft (incl. complete lit. review) (due November 13)
  4. Presentation (last class sessions)
  5. Final draft (due December 18)

Resources. This may be the first time you are taking a course with a substantial scholarly research component. If so, you might find the amount of reading and style of academic presentation (for the final project) challenging. The following guides from Paul Edwards (Professor, School of Information) may be helpful:

  • “How to Give an Academic Talk” (here)
  • “How to Read a Book” (here)

Note on Written Assignments

Written assignments are due before the first meeting of the week (i.e., usually on Tuesday)

For all written assignments. Strive to write clearly at all times, using consistent citation style with accurate spelling, punctuation, and format. Grammar, syntax, writing style, spelling, consistency, and accuracy must be suitable for graduate-level research in English. You are expected to follow and maintain consistent formatting according to standard academic format (see below). These formatting and style elements are parts of the research process, and your work will be evaluated accordingly.

Standard humanities citations should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th or 16th edition. (You may, however, choose a different citation format. If you do so, you are still responsible for consistency, accuracy, and discussing it with the instructor in advance.)

Papers should be submitted in electronic format (.docx, .doc, or .odt only) via CTools. Files should be named with a combination of your last name and the assignment, with no spaces in the filename (e.g., my version of the Grove response paper could be ). Standard format is: Times New Roman or Arial typeface, 12-point font size, and double-spaced paragraphs. Avoid odd-looking fonts, or anything unusually large or small.

Overview of Deliverables

Due DatePoints
Participation (20)
Writing well

Peer review


Papers (40)
Grove response paper

Online exploratory

Annotated bibliography


Project (40)

Introduction + outline

Rough draft


Final draft


Academic Integrity

Upholding the standards of academic integrity is the responsibility of all members of the university community, both scholarly and artistic. Cheating and plagiarism are antithetical to the aims of this course and damage your academic and professional integrity; they cannot be tolerated in any circumstance. (First offense results in a zero on the assignment; second offense results in a conference with the assistant dean.) If you have any questions regarding these issues, please discuss the matter with the instructor and refer to these resources:


(Note: some changes and modifications may take place during the term.)

DateTopicReadingDue / Notes
Part I: Research Process and Tools
Week 1
4 & 6
Introduction; defining music bibliography; classifying music materials; using catalogs: MIRLYN (MIRLYN Classic), WorldCat
MR (Music Research), Ch. 4;
Cook, Ch. 1
something more current...on documents (Buckland? Levy's "Document Heroism"?), searching strategies (Ellis, Markey, or Swanson [2005])
Intro blog posts
Week 2
11 & 13
Dictionaries (topical and biographical) and encyclopedias;
search strategies (information seeking)
MR, Chs. 2 & 3;
Duckles, “Library of the Mind”(???);
Shirky, “Ontology Is Overrated”
Gillie, “Fauré at Your Fingertips”
Search exercise (blog entry)
Week 3
18 & 20
Style, research, writing guides; RefWorks
MR, Chs. 15 & 16;
Booth et al., Chs. 1, 3, & 4 (skim);
Zinsser excerpts

Week 4
25 & 27
Finding articles: RILM Abstracts, IIMP, Music Index, SearchTools, RIPM
Guest:Kristen Castellana (Music Librarian)
MR, Chs. 5 & 6;
Cook, Ch. 2, additional chapter
Booth et al., Chs. 5 & 6 (skim)

Week 5
2 & 4
Writing a literature review; writing about musicKrabbe, “A Survey of the Written Reception of Carl Nielsen, 1931–2006”; other example(s) TBA
Booth et al.?

Week 6
9 & 11
Directories, guides to analysis, music histories, source readings, chronologiesMR, Chs. 9 & 13
Week 7
Oct. 16No Class: Fall Study Break

Writing time!
Oct. 18
Writing program notesKeller, “Program Notes”;
Booth et al., Ch. 15 (skim)

Part II: Editions
Week 8
23 & 25
Editions of musical works; Using complete works editions, musical monuments, historical sets, and anthologies
Guest:Dorothea Gail (MUSA)
MR, Ch. 7; Clague, “Portraits in Beams and Barlines”
Week 9
Oct. 30
Nov. 1
Thematic catalogues, bibliographies of music (RISM)MR, Chs. 8 & 10
Part III: Beyond the Printed Word
Week 10
6 & 8
Music iconographies, more Internet resources for music
Guest:Rebecca Price (Visual Resources Librarian)
MR, Chs. 12 & 14

Week 11
13 & 15
Copyright and intellectual property
Guest:Jack Bernard (UM Assoc. General Counsel)
TBD; browse SI 519 materials
Rough draft
Week 12
Nov. 20Sound and video as documents, discography, sound archivesMR, Ch. 11

Nov. 22No Class: Thanksgiving Recess

Week 13
27 & 29
Term project presentations

Week 14
4 & 6
Term project presentations

Week 15
Dec. 11Wrap up

Dec. 18Final paper due at 5 p.m.
(no class meeting, submit on CTools)

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