What Are Primary and Secondary Sources?
Primary sources are sources that function as a witness to the music you're studying, or to the ideas, cultures, biographies, or other circumstances that gave rise to it. These can include the composer's manuscripts or early prints, the composer's own writings on his or her music, first-hand accounts of the composer's intentions or procedures, an original recording, a review of a performance from the time period you're studying, writings by the composer's friends, peers, colleagues, or other contemporaries that relate somehow to the music under consideration.
Secondary sources are interpretations of the music and of the primary sources by people removed from the time, place, or milieu of the music in question. For tips on evaulating secondary sources click here.