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Most serious research uses a mix of primary and secondary sources:
Primary sources are original documents or first-hand accounts: letters, diaries, original manuscripts, reviews from newspapers of the time, etc. Primary sources are identified by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format.
- Advantage: they may give us an unvarnished view of people and developments, and in the case of music manuscripts or facsimiles, allow us to see how early versions of a work may have been performed.
Secondary sources comment on and interpret primary sources: biography, analysis, interpretation, history
- Advantage: They can provide perspective, taking into account differing viewpoints and later scholarship.
18th Century Continuo Playing: A Historical Guide to the Basics by
Publication Date: 2002
Modern Scholarship and Criticism