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Music Research Guide: MUSC 311 Music History

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Rachel Schwedt

Music Research Project

Basic Reference Materials

This chart contains basic reference sources that are likely to present the following information about composers:

Biographical/chronological information
A general description of a composer’s style and important highlights of their life
A listing of a composer’s major works      

  Title of Work

  Place to Search



Baker’s Biographical Dictionary

Search Anything  Search for title

Book Tower – level 3

ML105.B16 2001

Baker’s Biographical Dictionary

Search Anything  Search for title


Click on title
Click on link to Ebook

New Grove Dictionary of Music

Search Anything  Search for title

Book Tower – level 3

ML101.U6 N48

New Grove Dictionary of Music

Databases – Search by Subject (Music)

Music databases

In Oxford Music Online database

Harvard Dictionary of Music

Search Anything  Search for title

Book Tower – level 3

ML100 .A64 200b

Harvard Dictionary of Music

Search Anything  Search for title


Click on title
Click on link to Ebook

Credo Reference

Databases - Search alphabetically (C)

Online reference database

Under Databases browse by letter C



The search path for finding books is: 
     www, - Search Anything box. 

  1. Click on the arrow next to the word ALL.
  2. ​Choose Books then indicate if you want Print books or E-books

If looking for Books, remember that there are not always entire books dedicated to a single work. Expand your search by looking for a book about the composer or the Type of Music or the Time Period of Music you are researching. Then use the table of contents or index to see if your piece is included.

Start with a broad simple search - such as the composer's name. Additional terms can be added to narrow the results if needed. A search may retrieve a variety of resources.


Journal articles are housed in databases to which the library subscribes. The search path to finding journal articles is: - Collections - Electronic – Databases - Databases by Subject - Music.


The Jerry Falwell Library subscribes to a number of databases dedicated to the field of music and other general databases which include music. Some databases provide access to scores that you can print. Some offer recordings of musical performances, and others specialize in professional journals with articles addressing many aspects of music including the analysis of musical works.

You will probably need to visit a number of different types of databases to find the information you need.
Suggested databases:
        Journal Articles
              General (including music journals)
                     Project MUSE: Humanities and Social Sciences
              Music specific
                     Music Index
                     Music Periodicals Database

                     RILM Abstract of Music Literature
                     RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full Text)
                     RISM Series A/II: Music Manuscripts after 1600
           Reference materials
                     Cambridge Companions Online: Cambridge Companions to Music
                     Music Online: Classical Music Reference Library
                     Oxford Music Online Includes:
                     Grove Music Online
                     Oxford Companion to Music
                     Oxford Dictionary of Music

            Videos / Audio
                     Music Online: Classical Music Library – contains reference information as well as video and audio
                     Music Online: Opera in Video
                     Naxos Music Library
                     Naxos Video Library

             Scores (Sheet Music)
                     Library Music Source
                     Music Online: Classical Scores Library

                     Naxos Music Library: Sheet Music

Search Terms

Specific search terms are assigned to materials in databases and library catalogs. Some databases search the entire body of an article to look for the terms you choose, and some search only the subject terms assigned. Following are some common subject terms you may find useful in your research. Many of these can be used in combination with each other.

Search by time period
            Music – History and criticism – 17th century
            18th century music – History and criticism
Search by composer
            Scarlatti, Domenico – History and criticism
            Haydn, Joseph, 1732-1809 – Biography
Search by title of musical piece
Search by type or time period of music         

            Baroque music
            Gregorian chants
            Renaissance music
            Organ music
            Church music
            Choral music
General sub headings – use in combination with other terms
            Composition (Musical composition)
            Criticism or critique
            History and criticism
Search by country
Italy – 18th century – Music


The following screen shot shows the results of a search for articles about Thomas Tallis in Music Index. Search terms used were Tallis, Thomas and History and criticism.




Click on the link provided and you will be taken to a screen that indicates where the article may be found.