Music Extended Essay Examples

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) online curriculum centre (OCC), a key resource for educators at IB World Schools, includes several examples of extended essay titles.

These highlight the diverse range of topics covered by International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) students during their extended essays.

Some examples are:

  • “An analysis of costume as a source for understanding the inner life of the character”
  • “A study of malnourished children in Indonesia and the extent of their recovery after a period of supervised improved nutrition.”
  • “Doing versus being: language and reality in the Mimamsa school of Indian philosophy.” 
  • “The effects of sugar-free chewing gum on the pH of saliva in the mouth after a meal.”
  • “To what extent has the fall in the exchange rate of the US dollar affected the tourist industry in Carmel, California?”
  •  “What level of data compression in music files is acceptable to the human ear?”

Also available in the OCC, the Handbook of Procedures for the Diploma Programme has guidance on choosing a subject for the extended essay.

The OCC is only available to existing IB World Schools.

You can also purchase examples of essays in the IB Store. These essays fulfil the requirements for an ‘A’ grade in the extended essay.

If your school is not one already, learn how to become an IB World School in order to implement the DP.

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DP Music Extended Essay   

I've had two extended essay students thus far. 

To graduate from the DP programme of the IB, you need to have a minimum of 24 points out of a possible 45. To put this into perspective, many top level universities ask for 36 points or more.  3 of these points come from a combination of "Theory of Knowledge," which is a philosophy course, and "Extended Essay," which is the IB version of an independent study unit. It's a 4000 word essay dealing with a specific topic. My first student studied "A Comparative Analysis of Two Performances of Halvorsen's Passacagalia for Violin and Viola Duo after Handel's Suite in G Minor No. 7 for Harpsichord." My second student did score analyses of Mozart's Rond alla Turca and Paganini's 24th Caprice and then compared them to jazz versions arranged by Fazil Say in order to determine how Western Art Music can be recreated for modern audiences.  

What is a DP Music Extended Essay?

International Baccalaureate Organisation. (2009). Diploma Programme: Extended Essay Guide. Cardiff, UK: International Baccalaurate, Organisation.
This year, I had an exceptional DP Music extended essay and was very pleased with my student's result. Being reflective, I had to consider why... what specifically about her paper made it so good? What I realised was that my student's paper was very heavy on analysis while being considerably lighter on lit review.  It seemed to me that her paper didn't fully explain the topic before diving into the score analysis and discussion; however, the IB loved it.  When you look through the guide book, it does state several times that a paper based on research will not successfully meet the criteria given.  I never before realised just how much that was true! So when you are supervising your students, make sure they err on the side of analysis and critical thinking. Their lit review might be light, but if the 'meat' of their paper is in the analysis, they'll be fine. 

Task Specific Clarification

I asked some experienced colleagues to read my student's EE to make sure she was on the right track; they said they would, but they didn't know how helpful they'd be since all EEs have different task specific clarifications.  WHAT?

Today I went through the DP Extended Essay guide and collected all the clarifications into a checklist form.  Then, under each category, I listed the descriptors from the rubric.  Then my student and I went through her essay and the task specific clarification and searched for areas in which she could improved.  And now I'm going to post the file I made... I hope you find it helpful.

The "FREE" Marks - Paper Presentation

I call them the free marks. Unfortunately, many students don't get them. Why do I call them free? Because if you jump through the right "hoops," it means you get automatic, free marks.

1. Title Page- Title, Name, Supervisor, Date
2. Abstract Page - Running Head, Page Number 2, a single spaced & indented abstract that summarises the entire paper
3. Table of Contents Page - Title "Table of Contents." Use your word processor's styles function to automatically build the table of contents.  Too many students will make the TOC by hand, and as their paper moves, they forget to update the TOC. Let the computer do the hard work for you!
4. Paper Title - Centred on the top of the first page of the body of your paper
5. Headings and Subheadings - Left justified with no indenting
6. Paragraphs - Times New Roman 12, 1.5X or 2X spaced, with 4 spaces or a .25" indent.
7. Images and Tables - Centred, as close to their descriptions as possible, and labeled chronologically numerically underneath
8. Appendices referenced in-text chronologically alphabetically. The first appendix is (See Appendix A) and the second is (See Appendix B). This is regardless of what order you'd like in the appendices.
9. In-text Citations - (Lastname, FirstInitial, Year, p.No). The period comes AFTER the citation, not before.
10. Reference List - Title is centred. Reference list is ordered alphabetically and not sorted by media type. It is hanging indented. Only include sources used (this is NOT a bibliography) and do not included personal communications or anything that cannot be tracked by a reader.
12. Appendices Page - A new page. The first title is Appendices, centred. Each subsequent appendix is on a new page and is labelled as shown in the body of the paper (e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.)
This is a sample of how I have my kids setup their extended essays. It's a slideshow, though below it I've included files so that you can read through at your leisure. 
- addresses a particular issue or research question and arrives at a particular, and preferably personal, conclusion.
- Real music should be at the heart of an extended essay in music
- Students should strive for a coherent verbal analysis and interpretation of one or more pieces of music in relation to the chosen research question.
- provide opportunities for demonstrating detailed musical understanding and critical analysis.
- Appropriate resources for music include books, textbooks, the internet, scores, interviews, recordings, and live performances or concerts of the music being studied
- Students should use primary sources in the first instance with secondary sources as evidential support.
- Students should accurately and consistently analyse technical aspects of the music (melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, tone colour, and lyrics or text), demonstrating an understanding and a persuasive personal interpretation of the music.
- It is essential that the topic chosen is distinctively musical
- Supervisors should, therefore, strongly discourage students who are primarily interested in analysing text or lyrics
- The topic chosen should provide opportunities for extensive critical analysis of musical source material.
- topics likely to lead to an essay that is essentially narrative or descriptive in nature, should be avoided
- it is essential that the research question chosen can be effectively answered
- The introduction should not be seen as an opportunity for padding out an essay with a lengthy account of the context of the music.
- Personal views should not simply be stated but need to be supported by reasoned argument to persuade the reader of their validity.
- Students are expected to make effective use of musical terminology and, where appropriate, notation
File Size: 107 kb
File Type: numbers
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File Size: 37 kb
File Type: xls
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File Size: 446 kb
File Type: pages
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File Size: 206 kb
File Type: pdf
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