Musical Links Investigation

December 19 - Completed Draft Due (Paper form)

January 15 - Final Draft Due (Paper form)

January 22 - Media Version Due 

See info below to help you!

Prepared Piece





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, Website, Radio Script. Play or Movie Script, News Paper,  Blog


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). 

(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. 

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


December 19 - Completed Draft Due (Paper form)

January 15 - Final Draft Due (Paper form)

January 22 - Media Version Due