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Music Dissertation
 

A music dissertation is an extended research paper required for students pursuing an advanced degree in music. It is based on an original, unique topic in music theory, history, composition, or performance practice and is often required in addition to coursework and a recital. The following steps are important to consider when planning and writing a music dissertation.

Individual universities and departments frequently have house rules governing length, format, and style for music dissertations, and the student should always begin by consulting with his or her faculty advisor early in the dissertation process. The student will submit a detailed music dissertation proposal prior to beginning the dissertation research and writing. Once the proposal is approved, work on the actual dissertation can begin.

In general, music dissertations contain the following major chapters. In the introduction, the student introduces the research topic, explains its importance in the field, and briefly summarizes the entire dissertation. In the review of literature, the student cites related dissertations and research studies in the field, and notes their relevance to the topic at hand. In the methodology section, the student describes the actual research project and the results obtained. In the analysis/discussion section, the student interprets the study findings and places them within the wider context of music study in general. In the conclusion, the student summarizes the entire dissertation once again, restates key points, and highlights new questions that may have been raised by the research conducted and conclusions drawn.

Dissertation research studies can be quantitative (involving experimentation, hard data, and statistical analysis) or qualitative (involving historical documentation, comparative research, and cultural context). Music dissertations, like all fine arts disciplines, normally involve qualitative study. A comparative study of the use of minor key modulations in the sonatas of Beethoven and Mozart might be an example of a qualitative music dissertation research topic.

Whatever the student's music dissertation topic, extensive study and research, careful attention to detail, and comprehensive outlining are the keys to producing effective and successful music dissertations. The dissertation writing process can be a difficult and arduous one, but it can result in an excellent document attesting to the student's readiness for a successful career in the music field.

 
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