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Musical Links Investigation
Prescribed Works
IB Assignment Calendar


Music Theory Online


Internet Public Library (Drexel University ipl2)

Middle Ages
20th Century


Staff Paper
Score Paper
Answering an IB Question
Definitions: The "Phony's"


History of Music I - to Renn
History of Music II - Baroque
History of Music III - Baroque
History of Music IV - Classic


Download Instructions


History of Music II - Baroque
History of Music III - Baroque
Definitions: The "Phony's"


MUSIC LINKS investigation
The IBO Musical Investigation is required for both standard and higher level students. This assignment is the final exam grade for the first semester.


INVESTIGATION requirements

Students submit an original musical investigation of two contrasting musical selections from two different cultures (genres), no more than 2000 words in length. The bibliorgray, discography, and quoted material do not count in the 2000 word count.

The investigation must be original, and presented uniquely by the student, and students may not work on their investigation with another student, share sources, topics, or musical selections.


The investigation must be presented in a media format. This format may include any kind of media format designed to reach large numbers of people. Some examples include:

Power Point Presentation
Radio Script
Play or Movie Script
News Paper


Sources must be CLEARLY cited, and references WILL be checked before your final grade is posted. Wikipedia and previously published IB Music Investigations are NOT acceptable research sources. NOTE: Shared or sources not properly cited are subject to RUSD plagiarism penalties. THIS ALSO APPLIES TO MUSICAL SOURCES THAT MUST BE CITED IN A DISCOGRAPHY.


Through the study of pieces from different musical cultures students are encouraged to explore, analyse
and examine the musical connections existing between two (or more) pieces of music from two distinct
musical cultures (see cultures below).

When investigating musical links students must develop depth of argument in demonstrating the links that exist. For instance, the mere citation of similar instrumentation in two (or more) pieces of music is not sufficient.

While establishing convincing musical links, students must also learn to take into consideration how these instruments are used (for example, melodically, harmonically, structurally, rhythmically) in order to present arguments of more depth.


The links must be musical (that is to say, based on musical elements, not instruments/voices or functions of music).

Examples of inappropriate links include:

  • Both are dance music
  • Both use religious texts
  • Both are orchestras
  • Both are from the same muscial era

Students need to develop the depth of argument by, for example, comparing the use of predominantly small intervals within an octave range and repetitious phrases in the two lullabies “Wiegenlied” (Brahms) and “Bånsull” (Norwegian).  


CULTURES: the definition
(Excerpts from the IB Assessment Booklet).  

Musical culture refers to a learned way of making and using music, which is shared by a group of people, and is usually passed down from generation to generation. Music plays different roles within a culture (for example, entertainment, ceremony, work). A single musical culture may spread widely across time and place, and many creative changes can be found within a single musical culture while maintaining its essence (this is known as musical style).


Changes within a culture:

  • The difference between ska and reggae is a creative change within a single musical culture (music of the Caribbean), hence two musical styles within a single musical culture.
  • Swing and be-bop styles (jazz) are part of a single distinct musical culture.
  • Renaissance and romantic (western art/classical music)

Musical culture is not necessarily defined by time or by geography:

  • Palestrina from the 16th century and Schoenberg from the 20th century are both composers of western art/classical music, and therefore part of the same musical culture.
  • Villa-Lobos from Brazil and Penderecki from Poland are both composers of western art/classical music, and therefore part of the same musical culture.


  • Western-style pop music created in Japan and kabuki music, also from Japan, are not part of the same musical culture.
  • Musical style refers to particular characteristic musical features such as melodic structure, form, improvisation, harmony, articulation, duration, which are common to a set of musical pieces.
  • The two musical cultures chosen for study should be sufficiently distinct: the music pieces chosen should therefore be easily definable as belonging to a distinct musical culture.
  • Despite the fact that the two musical cultures must be distinct, one or more inherent links between the musical pieces is (are) needed for the investigation to be successful. Otherwise, the investigation may become merely an exercise in comparing the excerpts


It needs to be clearly stated that the links posted for IB Music Links Investigation may NOT be copied.  Students may look at these projects to formulate an idea about their unique investigation. 

The grade most of these investigations is not known, however, and are above average examples of music analysis and investigation. 

Media Format
Title & Link
Kitty Ho Blog When you think of broadway, will you automatically link it to Cantonese Opera? no? Needs to be read by date (backward). Find the latest date and start there, just as you would join a new blog.
Jose Antonio Smith Castro YouTube Video Russian Folk Music vs. Venezuelan Dance Music (Salsa) A lot of lecture with pictures and music.
Taylor Fletcher YouTube Video Cultures of Hungarian Folk Music and Big Band Music Really funny.  I have to wonder what the grade was though.


Students are graded on the following five categories. The total number of IB Assessment Points available for the musical investigation is 20 (or 20% of your certificate qualification score).

(from the IB MARK SCHEME)

A Choice of Musical Examples
B Analysis and Comparison of Musical Features
C Technical Language
D Organization and Presentation
E Overall Impression



Assignment 1: Information and Analysis - Due March 12

  • Choose two pieces using the criteria above
  • Complete an analysis of the two pieces
  • Highlight the areas you are going to discuss in your presentation
  • Develop your media presentation idea

Assignment 2: Rough Draft - Due March 19

  • Typed
  • May include handwritten notes on changes yet to be made
  • Pictures and their sources (i.e. website address, etc.)
  • Cited sources for your musical selections (discography)
  • Cited written sources

Assignment 3: Final Draft - Due March 23

  • The final assignment grade depends on promptness. Each day late lowers the grade by one letter grade.
  • Typed
  • Burned disk or other media of your presentation (a digital copy of your work - the presentation and musical examples is required by IB)
  • A printed paper version of your media (i.e. print out the Power Point pages)
  • Investigations will be graded in March according the IB Music Investigation Rubric (17-20=A, 13-16=B, 9-12=C, 5-8=D). Rubrics are available in room 504.
John North HS 1550 Third Street, Riverside, Ca  92507