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Moderators please move to appropriate section if necessary, wasn't sure where to post.


So, I was preassigned a paper topic for my music history class. I was assigned improv. in Renaissance for a 10 page research paper. Unfortunately, my school's library is not so hot when it comes to books on music and google has been of no real help, so as of now, I'm stuck with a couple links and one book.

Does anyone know where I can find an organized wealth of improvisatory Renaissance knowledge?

Thanks!
-James H///
 

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If you find any good sources on Med/Ren performance practice, let us all know! Those are hard to find...

It might be worthwhile to go back to the Medieval era to get started. Organum was originally improvised - both parallel organum and later florid organum (Notre Dame school). Going back even further, you could mention the jubilus - the melismatic flourish on the last syllable of Alleluia that was originally improvised. You might also want to mention the origins of music notation. Generally speaking, as the music of the Renaissance became more complicated (think Ars Nova), strict notation took precedence - that's one of the many reasons why early Baroque monody (and the ornamentation/improvisation associated with the period) was such a seismic shift.
 

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You mentioned a "couple links" and one book as your current sources. What sites? What book? Be VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY!!! careful about citing websites in a research paper. If you can avoid using any web sources, that would be best. Google Scholar is a bit different - use that. If Google Scholar takes you to a journal article that's available in hard copy, you may be able to cite it as a regular journal article, depending on how your teacher wants you to cite sources. It's sometimes customary to put "accessed via Google blah blah blah" in your bibliography, but isn't always necessary.

Allow me to illustrate my point. My music history prof in grad school always used a bibliography as his first impression of a paper. Whether it was an article in JAMS or a student's term paper, the first thing he would always do is skip to the bibliography and start forming attitudes about the paper based on the quality of works being cited ("garbage in, garbage out"). Student papers that cited websites were first laughed at, then returned. Long story short, your BS detector needs to be in overdrive when using the Interwebz for research.
 

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I'm in grad school right now. Web sites are accepted as a secondary source (similar to a book or a book chapter), except Wikipedia, which is not acceptable. Most music/music education classes use APA format (unless the prof is a bit old fashioned). The sixth edition APA is quite specific in how to site web sources. Since I'm in online classes, I access the library from my computer, and get journal articles in .pdf format. There are hundreds reputable scholarly journals that do not publish in hard copy anymore. It is, after all, 2011.

There are also plenty of journals (perhaps more in education and some of the social sciences) where the articles, while peer reviewed, are poorly researched and poorly written, and some websites are actually much better. Makes me wonder sometimes about 'peers'. :)

As a guide, you might want to look at a journal's impact number or the number of citations an article has.
 

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Search tremoli (ornaments to single notes) and divisions (ornamented intervals - series of notes). Primary sources include: Ganassi - Opera Intitulata Fontegara, Ortiz - Trattado de Glosas Secondary - Brown - Embellishing 16th-Century Music, Kite-Powell - A Performers Guide to Renaissance Music A start for you.
 

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Hakukani - We used Turabian, which also says how to cite websites - that doesn't always mean it's a good option. While there are good web resources, the overwhelming number of junk websites makes it a virtual minefield (pun unintended, but thoroughly enjoyed :)). My personal/professional preference is to avoid websites if the information can be had elsewhere. IMHO.

You mentioned lousy peer-reviewed journals, and you nailed it. There are a lot of questionable resources out there, be it online or in hard print.

I suppose what this is really boiling down to is source evaluation, a critical skill that simply isn't focused on enough when we're all in school. The same history professor I mentioned earlier also taught our bibliography course - he covered not only research techniques, but also how to judge the scholarly merit of a source. We even talked about good websites and bad websites, and the red flags associated with bad journals or books.

Especially in the "information age," there's tons of sources out there that should never find their way into a formal paper (*cough*Devil's Horn*cough). I guess my point was more to be careful than to totally discount the internet.
 

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Gack! Turabian! I haven't had to use that since I was an undergrad. I hate footnotes/endnotes! I've never understood why you would need to do a complete citation in the bibliography and a complete citation in a footnote/endnote. Both redundant and time-consuming.
 
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