Choosing Interesting Term Paper Topics About Music


We all intuitively know what music is. But as you try to formally define it in precise terms or with academic rigour, it becomes less and less clear where it stops and other sounds begin, such as speech, the sounds of nature, or even noise. This simple fact opens up a remarkable range of possibilities when considering term paper topics about it. Here are some leading ideas to keep in mind when choosing your next essay subject to keep it interesting, fresh, and sure to impress.

The elements

The basic elements of traditional music are recognised as harmony, melody, and rhythm. Sometimes, dynamics, tone colour, texture, and form are added to enrich the descriptions. You might consider what music that consists exclusively of one of the elements would be. For example, is the simple rhythmic ticking of a metronome music in and of itself? Is it possible to find examples of pure melody or pure harmony without any element of rhythm?

The absence of elements

Think about the elements above. There is actually another key ingredient that is invisible to most people: Silence. The ticking of the metronome is distinguishable from an indistinguishable ‘wall of sound’ precisely because there is silence between the beats. How have composers used silence in different ways to achieve different effects and qualities for their compositions?

The perceptual bases

Putting the elements together, modern research seems to indicate that different people will perceive the same sounds differently. What are the causes and effects of such differences? For example, it seems that some people are “music blind” analogously to how some people are colour blind. Across different cultures, some elements are perceived similarly, such as perceptions that music written in the major scale sound happier than those written in minor scales. But in other areas there are differences, such as the harmony or discordancy of certain notes played together.

The experience

Ultimately, all of the individual elements, the silence, and individual perceptual differences come together in the listener to give a particular experience of a piece. But what other psychological or contextual factors impact on that experience? How influential is it to have heard a song for the first time while happy, or while sad? Does peer pressure play a role? Or our age? Because truth be told, although music unites people across times, places, and cultures, it remains something that impacts us deeply personally in ways that we are only beginning to comprehend.