College of San Mateo Coachell

The paper outline is a small but important assignment that is designed to prepare you for writing your final research paper.

In the outline you will be required to:

(1) State your research topic, consisting in a musical case study

(2) State which course concept/issue you will be using to frame your case study

(3) Combine your case study and your course concept in a concise thesis statement

(4) Outline the main supporting points that you will use to develop your thesis. This means writing topic sentences for body paragraphs.

(5) Identify three academic sources that you will use to support your thesis.

Your paper will be a 1500-word research paper in which you give in-depth analysis of a specific world music event or object not discussed in the course. In this paper you will combine library research with your own ethnographic observation and interpretation of your chosen musical case study. You will need a minimum of 3 academic sources (books from academic presses and peer-review journal articles) to provide historical and cultural information that will serve as background for your original analysis. You will relate a course concept (such as soundscapes, heritage, appropriation, commodification, etc.) to your case study and frame your discussion around this chosen concept. The ethnographic aspect of the paper will come from your own close reading of the performance, close listening to the sonic content, and careful attention to musical, contextual and performance practice details.

The overall goal of this assignment is to make a compelling argument that uses close observation of your musical case study to shed light on cultural, social, and/or artistic contexts and content. As such, the thesis statement is a crucial aspect of the assignment – the stronger and clearer your thesis statement is, the stronger and clearer your overall paper will be.

As we will discuss in class, ethnography, like musical scholarship in general, does not just mean writing solely about your opinion or your experiences. It is a social-scientific method that uses close-up observation and dialogue to shed light on cultural contexts and musical behaviors (as suggested above). Musical ethnography aims ultimately to show something about how music can operate in people’s lives.

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