Musical examples

You may need to consult more than one section to accurately represent the source used. (eg. Number of authors and source descriptions)

Musical examples may be included to support a point in your essay. They must be incorporated into the text and include:

  1. An example number,
  2. A caption identifying where it is from, and
  3. An accompanying reference list entry (and in-text citation as appropriate) indicating where the excerpt has been taken from.

All examples must include clefs, key and time signatures, instrumentation and bar numbers.

Format for Caption

Elements, punctuation & capitalisation

Captions are generally placed above the example rather than below. See Figure 3.5 in the Chicago Manual for an example.

Example [number]. Composer Surname, “Title of individual piece or section”, from Title of Work, Bar numbers of excerpt.

Caption example

Example 5. Debussy, “Prelude III”, from Preludes for Piano: Book 1, Bars 1-4.


Example 8. Lim, Anactoria: For Six Percussionists, Bars 7-8.

Examples as they would appear in the text

Musical example with caption for Chicago B

Musical example with caption in Chicago B

In-text citation example

It is appropriate to include an in-text citation in your text wherever you refer to a musical example.

Example 5 shows this in the first four bars of Debussy’s “Prelude III” (1969).


Debussy (1969) shows this in the first four bars of “Prelude III” (see Example 5).


This technique can be seen in Example 7 (Lim, 1998).

Format for reference list

Elements, punctuation & capitalisation

Each musical example must have an accompanying reference list entry indicating where the example was taken from.

Composer Surname, First name. Year of publication. Title of volume or work. Edited by Editor name. Place of publication: Publisher.

Reference list example

Debussy, Claude. 1969. Preludes for Piano: Book 1. Edited by Roy Shepherd. Melbourne: Allans Music Australia.


Lim, Liza. 1998. Anactoria: For Six Percussionists. Milan, Italy: Ricordi.

Style notes for this reference type

  • Published musical scores are treated in the same way you would treat a book. See Manual 14.255.
  • Where possible, you should take examples from the complete scores or collected editions. If you use an example from a secondary source (ie. from another article or book), you should include the secondary source in your citations and reference list.
  • Captions should be placed above the musical example and include an example or figure number.
  • Examples should be discussed within the text and be referred to by their number.
  • Examples should be placed as closely as possible to the paragraph in which they are discussed.
  • More information on how to incorporate music examples into your writing can be found in the Incorporating Music Examples resource form Academic Skills.

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