An introduction to music research
An introduction to music research

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An introduction to music research

3.1 Documents

One of the great joys of music research is looking at documents and unravelling the history to which they contribute. Through historical sources you can uncover new biographical information about a composer, patron, instrument maker or performer. Documentary research can contribute to the writing of the history of a musical institution, such as a music festival, concert society, opera company, publishing house, orchestra or town band. It can also shed light on musical performance. The sources you will encounter range in size and shape from huge multi-type archives such as those of the Metropolitan Opera –Metopera Database [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] – and the Mozart: New Documents site to tiny, but possibly important, miscellanies. In recent years, one of the most extensive undertakings in this field is the large-scale Handel Documents Project, based at The Open University.

Newspapers can play an important part in the study of music. Apart from their concern with national and international affairs, broadsheets such as The Times, the Manchester Guardian and The Scotsman record for posterity the cultural life of a city or country, and there are many digital collections such as Welsh Newspapers Online. The reception of works and their performances can be gauged from contemporary newspaper reviews of premieres and subsequent performances.

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