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Guide to Research in Music

Background Reading - Finding Books - Finding Journal Articles - Recommended Websites

Background Reading:

Try browsing in the reference collection on 2nd floor in the M section. Here you will find encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks that will help you select a topic, define and focus a topic, or gain background information. Some sources that might be especially helpful are listed below. Not only will you find articles that provide background reading, but you will also find lists of references to further reading, which you can then look up in ALiCat (books) or the library's databases (articles in journals).


Oxford Music Online
This gateway leads you to four major reference sources in music: Grove Music Online (the equivalent of the 29-volume printed encyclopedia The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians), The Oxford Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Companion to Music, and Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Although we have all four of these titles in print format in the reference collection, they are fully searchable and updated (except for Encyclopedia of Popular Music-this source is not updated) in Oxford Music Online. OMO also provides links to articles in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (which we also have in print in the reference section), but it does not update these articles. Articles in Opera or Jazz are accessed only through articles in Grove Music Online.

Some additional sources in print format in the reference collection:

The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music
REF ML100 .G16 1998 (10 vols.)
A gem of a resource where you will find far-ranging articles on music traditions from all over the world. Accompanying CDs of music samples are available on reserve at the circulation desk. See next title, too.

The Garland Handbook of African Music, 2nd edition, 2008.
This is an update of volume 1 on Africa in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, above.
REF ML100 .G161 2008

The New Grove Dictionary of American Music
REF ML101 .U6N48 1986 (4 vols.)

The Oxford History of Western Music
REF ML160 .T18 2004 (6 vols.)
More of a book to read than an encyclopedia. Notes are included at the end of each volume and further reading is included in volume 6.


Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians
REF ML105 .B16 2001 (6 vols.)


The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning
REF MT1 .S44 2002
Each chapter provides an overview of research in the field of music education.


Women and Music in America Since 1900
REF ML82 .W625 2002 (2 vols.)

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Finding Books:

You can identify books in four ways:

1. In reference books (or other sources you are working with), use bibliographies and lists of "further reading" to identify books you want to track down. Look for these books by author or title in ALiCat or, if you don't find them there, in I-Share, the catalog of college and university libraries in Illinois. You can request I-Share books on the same page as the catalog record. A van delivers books to us daily.
2. Start off fresh in ALiCat or I-Share by putting in your own search words.
3. When you find a book you like in the catalog, look at the "topics" in the catalog record and click on ones that look promising. All the books that have been assigned that topic will be listed.
4. When you go into the stacks to retrieve a book, browse the shelves to see what additional books you might discover.

Hints for searching in ALiCat or I-Share:

• Keyword
Develop your own list of keywords for the topic you are researching. Add to the list as you come across more words that describe your topic. When the results come up for a keyword search, look at the column on the far right of the screen, "narrow your topic." You can click on links here to further limit the results of the original search.
• Subject
You can also search by "subject" in ALiCat. In this case, it helps to know the standard subject headings for music-related topics. "Music," of course, is the basic subject heading. The term "music" will also be subdivided by centuries, countries, and such terms as "history and criticism," "instruction and study," "physiological effect," "social aspects," etc. Then there are narrower terms, such as "art and music," "folk music," or "nature in music." One of the best ways to find subject headings is this: when you find a book you find particularly useful, look at the topics assigned to it (in the ALiCat record) and click on them to find other books.

If you want to delve deeper into subject headings (now you're getting into serious stuff), consult the Library of Congress Subject Headings volumes at the reference desk. Ask the reference librarian for help.

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Finding Journal Articles:

To track down a particular article that you found in a bibliography, go to the tab "Journals and Magazines" on the library web page, and type in the title of the journal. The results will tell you where you can get the full text of articles in that journal.

You can also search the databases by topic. The primary databases that index music journals are JSTOR and RILM. You will find both under "Databases/Fine Arts" or "Databases A-Z." JSTOR is a full-text database and contains the complete runs of a selected list of music journals, although it does not include the most recent issues of journals. RILM indexes only music material, but is not primarily a full-text database. So when you find an article in RILM that you want, and if there is no link to full text, you will have to look up the journal title in "Journals and Magazines" to determine if we own the full text of the article in some other database or in hard copy. If the title is not listed in "Journals and Magazines," you may request the article via Interlibrary Loan; be sure to allow time for the articles to get to you. They are usually delivered electronically to you via email.

Other databases that include music-related topics:

Academic Search Complete: includes popular magazines as well as academic titles
Project Muse: academic journals only; full text
Humanities Abstracts
: education-related topics

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Recommended Websites:

Most of the following sites are gateways; that is, they provide links to reliable web sites about music.

"the most comprehensive music reference source on the planet" or so they say...
list of inductees with info about them and recommended reading; images, too
Harvard College Library.
Indiana's guide to music education on the web.
The music web site of the Lincoln, Nebraska public libraries.

Created by the University of Indiana, contains lots of links to world music online.
Great for an overview of the music scene in various countries, for essays about world music, and for finding recordings. Click on "international."
Ethnomusicology resources on the web, created by a faculty member at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
A rich list of links from the University of Washington.
The Lincoln, Nebraska public libraries provide great links to world music.

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