It’s not unusual for me to read something and wonder how an author knew exactly what I was thinking, but it seems to catch me off guard every time it happens. The concerns that the authors addressed in the last two pages of this reading are some of the concerns I’ve been struggling with since starting thesis. I always knew that the end game was this massive paper I would have to write, always looming in the distance. Though I do love to learn new things, I have to remind myself that it is alright not to have the answer to everything just yet. My inexperience with research of this caliber will no doubt cause me some stress, but I know that there’s no way to get better than to just get my hands dirty and put in the work. The other point they made that struck particularly close to home was that I shouldn’t try to tackle it all at one time. Inherently, I’m someone who likes to work at something very hard for a relatively short time and start seeing results. Though this sometimes works out, I’m going to have to overcome those expectations for the upcoming process of research. Nevertheless, I am beyond thrilled to see what the next year has in store for me in terms of research.
I thoroughly enjoyed this section of the book, mostly, I imagine, because I like having things broken up into categories like the authors did with the questions. Before that, however, one of the first points they made was that one of the keys to finding a viable research topic is whether or not there is a reasonable to be found. This is one aspect of research I initially had trouble with, as I was pretty set on doing something with black holes before I realized that I’m not going to discover any new theoretical physics as a junior in high school.
The questions presented in chapter 3 helped me to organize my thinking for my real topic in different ways. The first type were questions of history, which, in the case of my topic, might sound something like: What are some of the historical correlations between psychological/social development and musical development? If I can understand how music has affected or been affected by social change, I might be able to better understand why. Structural questions were a bit easier to come up with, as that category is the main basis of my topic. How do chord progression and key signature affect our psychological perception of music? This is, I would say, the guiding question of my topic, and all of my other questions are branches of this. Categorically, a question I came up with was: What are defining technical characteristics of different genres of music? Many studies have been done on what different types of music do to the brain, which will no doubt help build a foundation for my topic, but I have yet to find any that look quite as deeply as I’d like into the structure of these types of music. A negative question I thought of was: What types of music do not alter our perception of it? I feel fairly certain that things like tempo and key affect us psychologically, but perhaps the time signature on a piece does not do the same. Of all of the questions I came up with, my favorite was the “what if:” What if every piece of music was written in the same key? How would that alter the current day perception we have of music as it relates to emotion?
In terms of agreement and disagreement, the only major thing I can say at this early stage is that I wish some of the sources I read went deeper in their research and ask the “why”s instead of only the “how”s. As I said, all of my questions stem back to that structural question, which I hope will guide my research as work toward an end goal of developing an idea for specially prescribed music therapy. For my topic statement, I think it goes a little something like this: I am studying the psychological effects of music because I want to know what aspects of music trigger emotional responses in order to help my reader understand how the music they hear everyday shapes their mood and why.
As I begin this book, I’m finding myself fascinated by the authors’ voices and abilities to connect with their audience. The two most interesting points they made in the first two chapters were those about what exactly research is and the one about how to best connect with one’s intended audience. While I’ve known for a long time that research meant looking into something and learning more about it, I never thought of it the way that the authors put it in their first chapter. I never thought about the fact that I was doing research when I looked up an actor to figure out what I’d seen them in before. Research is a part of my everyday life, and when I think about it that way, the oncoming task of writing a thesis doesn’t seem quite as daunting. This approach to defining research is part of the authors’ style of the next point: relating to the audience. Though I consider myself a fairly proficient writer, I’ve never been all that great at connecting to my audience. I always feel like my work sounds jumbled and detached tone-wise. This might be just because reading my own writing sounds strange, but I’d like to work on it to a point where even I feel like it adequately connects to the intended reader. I learned from this reading that the key point to connecting with an audience is understanding who exactly I’m writing to. I’ve always just sort of spoken into the void when it comes to writing academically, so I think that considering my audience first will help me to write more fluidly.
Dear Mrs. Sutcliffe,
Sorry about how late this is, it just completely slipped my mind to write this on Friday. I did my topic trial last week and I’ve been doing mentor conversations for the past couple of weeks as well. I’ve managed to narrow my topic down a bit more, so I’ve decided to focus more on the psychological effects of music, as opposed to the biological effects. My hope is to conduct a study of my own at some point in my research project, which will then help me to develop my final product: a blueprint for a type of therapy in which musical compositions can be written in order to contest specific issues. Once I do my research on how key signature and chord progression and the like effect people psychologically, I will (hopefully) be able to write a piece of music using all of this information to combat certain types of mental issues. Most of the mentors I’ve spoken with have liked the idea, and I’m confident that there are several possible advisors who could be very beneficial to have helping me with my paper. Hope you’re doing well!
For my second round of mentor conversations, I spoke with Mr. Taranto and my dad, Fr. Skully. Mr. T seemed genuinely interested in the idea of music psychology, and was wholeheartedly supportive of my research plan. He even suggested that as a part of my final goal, which is to develop a therapy based on my research, I come up with some sort of logarithm to come up with compositions based on the needs of a therapy patient. I thought it was an interesting idea, but I’m not the most tech-savvy person, so I might look into that further depending on whether or not it seems like a reasonable path a little further into my research process. My second conversation was with my dad, mostly just to get an opinion from someone who has been a mentor before to see how he felt about it. He found the actual content interesting, cautioning me only that it seemed similar to some past theses based around arts and education. However, I do feel confident that what I’m proposing is a unique idea, and though it may share some elements with some theses from the past couple of years, is different enough to present plenty of new research area.