Posted in Reader's Responses

The Craft of Research Response II

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.


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