Writing thesis statements
Ernest Hemingway once wrote a short story in two sentences and 6 words. He, apparently, claimed it to be the best short story he ever wrote. In these two sentences we can find a whole world of drama. It reads:
For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.
This “short story” can serve as an example of the kind of condensation a thesis statement should have. A thesis statement provides the core idea or argument that you spend the pages of your paper unfolding. In Hemingway’s statement we are not told what has actually happened but it contains a direction, a central idea, that will be unfolded throughout the story. Gordon Harvey from Harvard University points to this as well. He defines a thesis in the following way:
Thesis: your main insight or idea about a text or topic, and the main proposition that your essay demonstrates. It should be true but arguable (not obviously or patently true, but one alternative among several), be limited enough in scope to be argued in a short composition and with available evidence, and get to the heart of the text or topic being analyzed (not be peripheral). It should be stated early in some form and at some point recast sharply (not just be implied), and it should govern the whole essay (not disappear in places). [Our underlining].
Keeping Harvey’s definition in mind you can start working on creating your thesis. The following steps can help you do this.
- Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
- An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience. A paper in music theory or history could be an example of an analytical paper.
- An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience. A paper in music education could be an example of an expository paper explaining a particular pedagogical approach to music, for example.
- An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided. A review of a musical performance would be argumentative.
- Your thesis statement should be specific - it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
- The thesis statement usually appears somewhere in the first paragraph of a paper. You might want to avoid the somewhat formulaic “in this paper I argue that...“ though keeping that line in mind is a good idea because, basically, that is what you are saying.
- Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.
Different genres demand different thesis statements
- Analytical thesis statement
This paper would present an analysis of the source material used. This could be a literature review, for example.
Example of an analytical thesis statement:
Chopin greatly admired the music of J.S. Bach, and his Preludes reflect the influence of The Well-Tempered Clavier.
This paper would discuss and analyze relations between Chopin’s Preludes and Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
- Expository (explanatory) thesis statement
This paper would explain the material the thesis promises to explore.
Example of an expository thesis statement:
The approaches to teaching music to children developed by Orff, Kodaly, and Dalcroze are different and unique.
The paper would go on to explain, compare and contrast the three approaches.
- Argumentative thesis statement
This paper would present an argument and present enough evidence to support the claim and convince a reader.
Example of an argumentative thesis statement:
Playing Mozart’s music on the fortepiano, the instrument as it existed in his own time, conveys a very different impression of his music than playing it on a modern piano.
This paper would go on to present evidence to support this claim.
A List Of Original Persuasive Essay Topics On The Subject Of Music
The writing of a persuasive essay requires a unique set of skills. One must not only understand the given topic but be able to describe a particular stance on it in such a way that it convinces people that the writer’s expressed view is correct. For people who are unaccustomed to structuring balanced and proven arguments, this can be a bit of a challenge.
On the topic of music, there is so much that is subjective that it becomes even more difficult to convince others that one viewpoint is definitely accurate rather than another. This can come with practice over time.
The topics listed below can be used to gain that practice:
- What was the process by which note values were given different names in different cultures and is one superior to the other?
- Does the increased use of the flats and sharps in Middle Eastern and Indian scales reflect the theatrical traditions of those regions?
- Would Rock and Roll have been able to evolve its driving rhythms without the influence of African drumming techniques?
- Can all people learn to play and appreciate music or are some not at least minimally talented?
- Can the pursuit of classical music full time be considered a viable career path?
- Should music literacy be made a mandatory component of all school curricula?
- Are percussionist truly musicians?
- Is the pursuit of studies in Classical Music purposefully made unappealing to people of lower socio economic status?
- Are children better off studying dance or music?
- Has the lack of complexity in modern pop music affected the standard of musicianship many newcomers aspire to?
- Can humans with normal hearing live productive lives in the complete absence of music?
- Has music been more successful as a tool for peace or as a motivator for war?
- Do trained musicians have more fulfilling lives than other people?
- Should music be considered a language by linguists?
- Has music experienced an evolution or a devolution over the past century?
There are many ways to think of the subject of music. It has such a clear impact on every facet of life that it is almost impossible to find a field in which it does not appear in some way. By writing about these topics, more information can be gathered on the way it is thought to affect us over time.