Tips on Writing a Music Analysis Essay

music analysis essay

If you’re not an expert on music but get assigned a music analysis essay, you may start to worry about how you’re going to pull it off. Your lack of knowledge on the subject matter or inexperience in writing similar topics are not exactly helpful. However, you don’t actually have to be an expert on the subject matter in order to write a quality essay. The truth is, you just need the right guidance.

Just like with any other topics, music analysis essays require a thorough preparation and a guided writing process. You need to create a plan on how you’re going to write your essays and what essential steps you’ll need to cover. And this article will help you do just that.

Take a look at these tips that will help you if you’re planning on writing a quality music analysis essay.

Get to Know the Piece

You can’t start the analysis of a piece of music until you’ve familiarized yourself with it completely. You need to get to know the piece and develop a connection to it. But, how can you do that?

The answer is simple: listen.

Listen to the piece of music you’re analyzing, and possibly even brainstorm while doing so. Write about anything you notice:

  • How it makes you feel
  • Changes in rhythm
  • Instruments you recognize
  • Different parts of the piece

Remember, it’s not enough to just play it in the background while doing something else. You need to give it your full attention and repeat the listening until you’ve got the piece down.

Once you’re sure you’ve familiarized yourself with the piece completely, you’re ready to take the next step.

Give Technical Information

Every analysis needs to start with the essential technical details.

Find and write down information about:

  • The composer
  • The period in music history the piece was created in
  • Genre
  • Style
  • Duration

These facts are important for setting the ground for the rest of the analysis but shouldn’t be the central part of the essay. One paragraph containing the most important technical details is more than enough.

Do the Research

Now, it’s time for you to do some more serious research.

When writing essays, whether about music or any other topic, you need to be able to get to the valuable information. In other words, you need to know which sources of information are reliable and authoritative and which are not.

Start with Google Scholar. Use it to find scholarly literature such as publications, articles, dissertations, books, and journals containing valuable information on a given subject matter. You can find most of it in a PDF format, download it and find the information you’re looking for.

In addition, use other digital libraries you can get access to, to find even more academic journals, handbooks and valuable sources of information. You can find numerous resources at your local library or in your nearest college or university library.

Remember, when using any of these sources, you need to pay attention to:

  • Citation: If you’re using someone else’s exact words, make a citation to avoid being accused of plagiarism.
  • Referencing: Make a list of all the sources you’ve used to put the essay together, and include it as a bibliography at the end of the essay.

Write the Outline

Once you’ve got all the information together, it’s time to write the first outline.

Use both the information you’ve written down during the listening as well as those found during research. Make sure to adjust your tone and style of writing to fit the purpose. Academic writing requires following the right kind of a writing form and using academic vocabulary.

To make the whole essay even better, don’t forget to use as many technical terms as possible. You can find glossaries of musical terms to help you understand the topic better and write it using the appropriate vocabulary.

Once you write the outline, you’ve got most of the work done. Now all you need to do is polish the outline, adding more details or removing unnecessary information until you’re satisfied with the essay.

Ensure Accuracy

Apart from the fact that you need to use information which is 100% verified and your resources need to be credible, you also need to ensure your writing is impeccable.

Before handing in the essay, you need to remove any mistakes and errors you may have made during the writing phase.

Be sure to pay attention to everything from mistakes in spelling to sentence structure. It’s important for you to make your essay completely mistake-free since even the slightest mistake could make you seem sloppy and unprofessional.


The last step you need to take before handing your essay in is just as important as all the previous ones. You need to do the revision.

When you finish writing and polishing your essay, it’s best to leave it to sit for a day or two. Don’t read it for at least 24 hours. It will help you step away from the writing process and spot any mistakes or weak points once you come back to it.

When the time’s right, come back to it and read it once again. You could even read it out loud to a friend or a family member, to have a second opinion.  If you’re satisfied with what you read, your essay is good to go.

Final Thoughts

Writing a music analysis essay can be a piece of cake when you know how to handle it properly. Use the right resources and follow the writing process steps. Make sure to double check everything and revise until you’re happy with the result. We hope you will find these tips helpful when writing your next music analysis essay.

Bridgette Hernandez is a Master in Anthropology who is interested in writing and planning to publish her own book in the near future. The texts she writes are always informative, based on a qualitative research but nevertheless pleasant to read.

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