Music Citation Guide (Chicago Style)

Creating an annotated bibliography and not sure how to start?

Annotations should provide a description of and evaluation of your source, and they should be short and to the point.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • An annotation is a few sentences that describe the usefulness of the resource (for example, they might address the significance of the score edition or recording).
  • They may compare the source to similar writings/publications; in this sense, annotations are slightly different than abstracts because abstracts don’t compare the source to other publications.
  • In your annotation, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the source and explain why it is valuable for research on your topic.
  • Briefly summarize its content.
  • An annotation should show your reader why and how you're making an informed decision to use the source for your research.
  • Try answering the following questions for yourself:
    • What role will this source play in helping you craft the argument you'd like to make?
    • What led you to select this particular source above others that were similar?
  • Remember: Even a deeply flawed source may still be useful if it tells you something about the state of scholarship on your topic!

Examples of thorough and detailed annotations

Included with permission of the authors.


Example 1:

This item is an examination of William Billings and the work he did throughout his life with a special emphasis on his role as a pioneer of music education in public schools. It is a valuable and concise look at William Billings, containing basic biographical information as well as background regarding his impact on music. It also makes mention of the New England Psalm Singer and the Singing Master’s Assistant, which were the source material for Schuman’s compositions. While this source is ideal for my purposes, it likely does not contain enough information for a researcher needing more detailed information on Billings’. If the scope of my research was more narrowly focused on Billings, I would likely want to look elsewhere.


Example 2:

Howland’s book was created with the purpose of implementing a feminist-gaze look into Wagner as a person, specifically as it relates to Der Fleigende Holländer, and how his societal surroundings and experiences were shaped by patriarchal norms. Howland also delves into some of the other aspects of late-nineteenth century society present in this opera, including the Christ-like presence of Senta. As with any lens-focused writing, it’s worth noting that there’s always the chance for author bias or privilege to be present. In addition, it’s rare to find a book about music completely from the feminist perspective, especially one from an accredited gender scholar with an extensive background in music.


Example 3:

The author, Frederick Neumann, is a violinist and conductor. Therefore, he knew well string instruments. This book covers how ornaments play a huge role in the music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and uncertainties in their notation, as well as their frequent absence in the score, which has left doubt as to how composers intended them to be interpreted. The author argues that strict constraints are inconsistent with the freedom enjoyed by musicians of the period. I agree with his thinking. Therefore, I will quote his thoughts in my paper.


Example 4:

In this remastered CD recording, Marcel Moyse performs selections from his oeuvre including the 24 Little Melodic Studies in addition to select studies by Soussmann, Furstenau, and Andersen. As with the books, there is no verbal guidance; one must rely on his phrasing and interpretation to properly learn each study. It includes the first several little melodic studies from 24 Little Melodic Studies and the popular Andersen Etude Op. 15 no. 3.

One downfall of the CD is that the titles are in Japanese so the listener needs to have an understanding of the pieces on the recording to know which piece is playing. This is documented in the discography section of McCutchan’s biography when the Muramatsu Flute Company purchased rights to several of Moyse’s recordings and publications from his own recording label and publishers.

There are few audio recordings of Moyse available for purchase. This one was made available by the Marcel Moyse Society.

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2022 3:59 PM