The University of Mississippi

Music 301: History of Western Music I

Class Project

Write a short paper on a single major work or group of works composed before 1750. Discuss the work from several viewpoints, addressing the following questions: what are the major musical characteristics? How does the work fit within the composers output? How does it fit among other examples of the form? Is anything known of the circumstances of its composition and performances during the compser's lifetime? Can you identify any specific influences on the work, as well as influences of this work upon others? (e.g. French Ars Nova > Landini, Dunstable > Dufay, Josquin > Willaert, Wert > Monteverdi, Gabrieli > Schütz, Frescobaldi > Froberger, Vivaldi > Bach, Corelli > Handel)

Organize your findings into a well-written prose essay, consisting of well-formed paragraphs and complete sentences in which you state and support the points you wish to address. Use footnotes to cite sources for information and opinions of others. Use direct quotations sparingly, if at all, but footnote the ideas of others, even if they are in your own words. Footnotes may appear together at the end of the paper. Include a bibliography of at least five relevant sources, including at least two articles in scholarly journals (e.g., Acta Musicologica, Current Musicology, Early Music, JAMS, Music and Letters, Musica Disciplina, Musical Quarterly, etc.), and no more than one encyclopedia or dictionary (preferably The New Grove or Grove Music Online). Do not cite Grout or other standard music history texts. You may use online sources such as Wikipedia for background, but do not cite or quote them: use them only to find the sources cited at the end of articles. You may also search the bibliographies in Grove Music Online, RILM Abstracts, Google Scholar and other online indexes. Many full-text articles can be found in IIMP and JSTOR and accessed through the UM Library.

Extra credit. In addition to your written work, you may express your personal connection with the chosen piece by creating a Power Point presentation or a video that includes an audio track of the work. A video might include a live performance or a recorded performance with "value added": concept video or slide show, live action, dancing (lip synch), or explanatory subtitles. You may introduce the work or a portion of the work, but your video should not be much longer than the audio track. You may hand your video in as a working video file on a compact disk or flash drive, in one of the following formats: WMV, MPG, MP4 or FLV; or you may upload the video to YouTube or Vimeo and indicate a working URL where it may be viewed.

Weight. The written work is worth 50 points; the extra credit media adds 15 points for a total of 65, which is approximately equal to the final exam.

Length. The essay, excluding notes and bibliography, should be 1200-1600 words.

Due Date. Papers and media are to be submitted by e-mail to Dr. Steel ( in MSWord document format (DOC or DOCX) or PDF by 8:00 pm on Tuesday, December 2. Written work will be checked for plagiarism using the "SafeAssign" utility of Blackboard.

Citations. Citations in footnotes differ from those in bibliographies. The best guide for format is Turabian, A Manual for Writers, 7th edition. Online citation guide (use the "notes/bibliography" citation style, not the "author/date" style. Cite articles from Grove and other reference works under their respective authors.


  1. Carl Finschler, "Gabrieli, Giovanni," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed. (London: Macmillan, 2001), vol. 9, pp. 34-36.
  2. Denis Stevens, Tudor Church Music (New York: Norton, 1958), p. 45.
  3. Denis Arnold, "Monteverdi's Concerted Madrigals," Musical Quarterly 54 (April 1972): 115.


Arnold, Denis. "Monteverdi's Concerted Madrigals." Musical Quarterly 54 (April 1972): 114-123.
Finschler, Carl, "Gabrieli, Giovanni," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed. London: Macmillan, 2001, vol. 9, pp. 34-36.
Stevens, Denis. Tudor Church Music. New York: W. W. Norton, 1958.

Examples of Major Works Before 1750

any troubadour or minnesinger: complete works
Cantigas de Santa Maria
Roman de Fauvel
Halle, Jeu de Robin et Marion
Machaut: Notre Dame Mass
Dufay: any mass or major isorhythmic motet
any 15c. MS chanson anthology
any 16c. printed chanson anthology
Ockeghem, Obrecht, Josquin, Isaac: any mass or larger motet
Willaert, Wert, Monte, Marenzio, etc: any book of madrigals
Palestrina: any mass except Papae Marcelli
Tallis: Missa Puer natus, Spem in Alium
Byrd: any mass, book of motets or songs, fantasia, or variation set
Lasso: any book of motets or chansons
Gabrieli: a book of madrigals, canzonas or Symphoniae Sacrae
or a major individual piece like "In ecclesiis"
Monteverdi: a book of madrigals, opera, vespers
or a major piece like Lamento di Arianna, "Zefiro torna"
d'India, Caccini, Rossi: any collection of musiche or cantate
Carissimi, Cavalli, Cesti, A. Scarlatti: any opera, cantata, oratorio
Schütz, Corelli, Vivaldi: any major work (opus number)
Lully, Charpentier, Purcell, Rameau: any opera or stage work
Buxtehude, Trauermusik, any cantata, praeludium, passacaglia
Couperin, any suite, organ mass, concert royal, motet, tenebrae, etc.
Handel, any opera, oratorio (not Messiah), instrumental opus number, suite
Telemann, any cantata, passion, Tafelmusik, coll. of sonatas or concertos
Bach, any cantata, oratorio, keyboard collection, group of concertos (not Brandenburgs)

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