Music Essay Topics: Great Ideas for Your Academic Papers

Happy african man smiling listening to music in headphones. White background. Closed eyes.

If you have to write an essay on music, you can focus on various subjects, such as the works of a certain composer, the historical development of music, ethnomusicology, or music theory.

In case you are looking for great musical essay topics, you should read this article.

Focusing on History and Culture

Students studying the history of music and its role in the cultural development of society can use the following questions and prompts as essay topics:

  1. Cultural origins of jazz and its development in the nineteenth century.
  2. What are the major musical innovations introduced during the Baroque period?
  3. The main stylistic peculiarities of Romantic music. Refer to the works of composers who worked during this period.
  4. Modern musicologists draw distinctions between “high culture” and “low culture”. How can these terms be applied to the music of the twenty-first century?
  5. What is the definition of popular music? When did this term emerge and how has its meaning changed in time?
  6. How can the term “folk music” be defined? Has the meaning of this concept changed in the course of the twentieth century?
  7. Can music be used as a means of propaganda? If yes, what are some examples of such usage?

Evolution of Genres and Forms

The development of a musical genre or form can be a good subject of an academic paper. People needing great musical essay topics may choose one of these questions:

  1. What are the distinctive features of a fugue? What are the differences between fugues created by Baroque composers such as Bach, and fugues composed in the twentieth century? How has this musical form evolved in time?
  2. What are the origins of opera? How did this art form come into prominence?
  3. What are the key characteristics of space rock? Who helped to crystallize this genre?
  4. How does hip hop music of the seventies differ from modern-day hip-hop?
  5. Symphonic music and its evolution in the course of the nineteenth century.
  6. Sonata during Classical and Romantic periods.
  7. Richard Wagner’s revolution of opera.
  8. How did Niccolo Paganini change violin-playing techniques?

Theory and Education

People looking for an excellent musical essay topic should pay attention to disciplines such as music theory. Moreover, music education can also be an interesting subject for your paper. Here are some examples that you may consider:

  • What is harmony? What kind of harmonic structures emerged in the twentieth century?
  • What is the use of set theory by musicologists? Does musical set theory resemble mathematical set theory?
  • What is Schenkerian analysis? What are its major objectives?
  • How can elementary group theory be used by musicologists?
  • The importance of music theory for composers and performers.
  • At what age should music education start?
  • What is rote learning? How can this method be applied in music education?
  • What are the therapeutic effects of music? How can educators use music in the classroom?
  • What are the main principles of the Kodaly method? What are the main duties of a teacher who uses this approach?

How should a student prepare for the performance of a musical piece?

Hopefully, you will be able to use one of these topics for musical essay. Each of them can be really thought-provoking and interesting.