Music writing

This paper asks you to explore the lineage of an artist you’re interested in. Required sources include , though these sources should lead you to various other sources – specialist or mainstream journalism, music blogs, etc.

The goals are:

1. read some critical commentary about music and engage with it

2. listen to music yourself, including unfamiliar music

3. produce a short piece about

– your chosen artist’s critical reception (as opposed to an entry strictly about that artist).

– the lineage of your chosen artist: who are their artistic forebears? Your research should stretch back at least 20-25 years, which means you might have to extend your research to their forebears’ forebears.

Helpful hint: Do not choose an artist who’s so obscure you can’t find anything on them.


– Choose and artist and look them up on the required websites. You may do outside research from reliable sources as well.

– Observe the way your artist is evaluated by critics.

– Take special note of who the artist is “influenced by.”

– Listen to as many of these supposedly related artists as you can. Try to figure out the most important commonalities – i.e., why is your artist supposedly related to these other artists? Does their music have similar salient characteristics? Are they from the same place? Do they cover the same themes? Do they occupy a similar position within the music industry? Within a socio-cultural context?

– You must include at least two artists who have supposedly influenced your chosen artist.

Using musical terminology suited to the task, tell the story of your artist’s critical reception, paying attention to the lineage they have been placed within. Who are their purported musical forebears and why? Are there moments of disruption, confusion, transition? What do you hear when you explore the artists your artist is purportedly related to?

Papers should be roughly 1,000-1,250 words, about foursolid pages of double-spaced 12-point font, standard margins etc. As always, you must cite your work following standard guidelines (MLA, Chicago, or APA).

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