The Musical Links Investigation is a large component of the Diploma Music Course. You need to analyse two contrasting musical cultures using strong musical connections (e.g. Pitch Material, Rhythmic Development, Structural Devices). Once you have your un-related musical works you need to focus on the connections. Sometimes this may mean going back and choosing different repertoire or spending time transcribing a world music melody or rhythm.

However, the biggest aspect of this project is something that many students neglect to include: the evidence. This can take the form of measure numbers, audio timings but score excerpts are always very powerful (making sure you include a short description like ‘in Figure 1.1 the aeolian melody is seen in the flute part m1-4’). If you want to see what this looks like visit this site on Ravel’s “Ma mère L’oye” that my current year 12’s have studied.

If you have questions on whether your chosen pieces are ‘appropriate’ or whether your connections are ‘strong enough’ go directly to this question:

What evidence can I put on paper, that can demonstrate the same use of a mode, scale, progression, motif, ostinato, texture, structural device or harmony within both works?

If you cannot find, transcribe, screenshot or describe with musical terminology such evidence consistently, then go back to the drawing board. It is this process of listening, investigating, and looking for evidence, that improves your ability to really listen to how pieces are constructed. You also need to double check the next question:

“Are they on the same branch?”

Remember that you need to think of each genre or style of music like a big tree. Then each smaller branch is coming off a bigger ‘branch’ (such as Blues or Western Art Music leading to Rock and Film Music respectively). Here is an online map that can help you with this process.

If you ever get stuck asking yourself if the pieces you have chosen might be ‘too close,’ then this is a good test. Also, picking a completely un-related world piece is also a good option (see examples below).

The last thing you need to remember is that your analysis needs to be thorough. This website: has articles on classical composers that demonstrates specific works with detailed examples. The terminology is well explained and then proven with direct score excerpts. Make sure you include such evidence in your MLI.

I have been given permission to include two past student Musical Links Investigations here that both scored well. Please ask any questions you want in the comments below:

MLI: Scriabin’s “Prometheus” and Mongolian Throat Singing.

MLI: Miles Davis’ “So What” and Taqsim for Arghul


Cover Image: href=””>U.S. Pacific Fleet Flickr via Compfight