You are here


15 January, 2016 - 09:13
Available under Creative Commons-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Download for free at

Begin your investigation with any relevant question (for example "What music influenced Joan Baez?") When a question occurs to you, write it down, and take notes on the answers you find until something in the answers inspires a related question that interests you. Write down the new question, and continue your investigation until you have enough information to create a short but thorough and interesting report or presentation on the influences of or on your chosen composer.

Note: Note that it will be very important to the next step in the inquiry that you keep track of all of your questions, as well as all of your answers. You will also find the next step easier if you can keep track of what made you wonder about each new question. Think of your notes as a journal or diary of your curiosities and your investigation.

Suggested Resources

  • Online articles - Articles focused on your composer of interest can provide the orientation you need to start asking relevant questions.
  • Online search - Focus on pertinent information by searching for phrases such as "influenced Brahms", "Brahms influential", and so on. If you phrase your searches as complete questions, such as "How did Duke Ellington influence American pop?" then your "search history" will include a record of the questions you asked.
  • Books - You may be able to find a book about your chosen composer. Books about a musical era, genre, or style are often organized as a discussion of how the music developed as it was passed from one influential set of composers and musicians to the next.
  • Recordings - Listen closely to the music of your chosen composer and the others whom you are discovering in your inquiry. Can you hear the similarities and differences that are being discussed in your reading? Can you analyze and discuss what you are hearing in your report? Does your listening raise questions that are useful for your inquiry?
  • Personal Contacts - If you have chosen a contemporary composer or songwriter about whom not much has been written, a letter or email stating that you are a big fan and that you wonder who has influenced their music might receive an answer. If the composer is local or is giving a show in your area, asking the question in person after a show or while purchasing a CD may get an answer. Follow up by reading about the musicians named and listening to their music.