Wikipedia:Writing about music

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Musicological research[edit]

  • Archival research - "searches for information on the musical life of particular place and time, the venues in which music was performed, and the foreces that were available to perform the music."
  • Biographical research - "uncovers information on the lives of composers and performers, shedding light on why and how they produced their music.
  • Cultural research - "connects music with the historical and artistic trends at work in the surrounding culture."
    • "In recent decades musicological research has greatly widened its sphere of activity. Cultural studies have expanded to include areas such as reception history..."deconstruction"...feminist criticism and gay studies....Still, all these new approaches have produced thoughtful and provocative studies that broaden, rather than replace, traditional methods of musical analysis and research."
(Wingell 2002, p.7)

Inappropriate methods[edit]

  • Overly precious descriptions of musical events or fanciful metaphors.
    • Examples: babble, chatter, argue, soar, shout, "dispel the gloom and chaos of the preceding section", "the light of hope finally dawns as we approach the triumphant final section.
  • Treating all music as programatic regardless of composers' intentions.
  • Explaining all musical details and events with biographical ones.
    • Beethoven's deafness and his "late period" style. Mozart's Piano Concerto in B-flat, K. 595, the slow movement of which was described as "suffused with the soft glow of evening."
  • Merely listing the musical details in chronological order.
  • Analysing pieces through anachronistic theories and concepts
    • Examples: expecting or forcing harmonic function and direction and clear formally demarcating dominant tonic cadences in or upon modal Early music.
(Wingell 2002, p.3-6)


In keeping with the spirit of Wikipedia:Explain jargon, use the full names of composers at first or only mention in an article.


  • Wingell, Richard J. (2002). Writing About Music: An Introductory Guide, third edition. ISBN 0130406031.