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Music History: Research

Research Methods

Books in the Library (selections)

Find more books in our related guide:


Reference resources include dictionaries, encyclopedias, and more.
They often provide a short overview of a topic, then point to more resources you can use for further research.

Music Reference Databases

Reference Call Numbers

Browse these call numbers in the Reference aisle:

Call Number Nationality/Ethnicity
ML100-ML109 Dictionaries and encyclopedias
ML128 Bibliographies  (A-Z by subject)
ML134 Thematic catalogs and bibliographies of
individual composers (A-Z by last name)

Articles & Dissertations

Articles are written by experts and usually cover a narrow topic in great detail.
Dissertations are written by graduate students and often cover topics not yet fully researched elsewhere.

Browse Journals

Search articles online or browse by title. Here are just a few to get started:

Journal Article Databases

thinkerLibrary databases provide citations for articles, book chapters, and more. Most articles/chapters focus on a narrow and specific topic, so they are great for deeper research. To get started:

  1. Choose a database.
  2. Search for keywords such as genres, topics, names of people, etc.
  3. Limit your results by date, language, and more with the the left-hand menu on the results page.

Need more help?

See our Article help page for step-by-step instructions and videos to help you search databases and find full-text articles. And you can always ask a librarian for individual help.

Music Article & Dissertation Databases

Find Full Text Articles

Search eJournal Locator for the journal title:

 Journal Title:

Need help? See our article help page or ask a librarian.


New Music Books (all subjects)

Browse the Shelves

Browse for music books:

Call Number Topic
ML159–ML161 General music history
ML162–ML197 Music history, by period
ML198–ML360 Music history, by country
ML385–ML429 Biographies
ML459–ML1354 Instruments and instrumental music
ML1400–ML3275 Vocal music
ML3469–ML3543 Popular music
ML3544–ML3775 National musics
ML3797–ML3799 Musicology and ethnomusicology
MT1–MT34 Music education
MT90-MT146 Analytical guides

Search the Catalog by Subject

catalog search for 'folk music united states' with keyword changed to subject and format set to Printed Music (All), result showing location and call numberHow to search

  1. Open the library catalog.
  2. Type in a subject.
  3. Change the type from Keyword to Subject.
  4. Limit by format.
  5. Find a record for the item you need.
  6. Use the location and call number to find it on the shelf.

Image: Catalog search set to Subject and Printed Music, and search result showing location and call number.

How to find subjects

Here are a few subjects to get you started:
Music criticism
Music history
Performance practice (Music)

You can find more subjects in individual catalog records. Find one book on your desired topic, then click on a subject to find more materials with that subject:

catalog record with Subjects section circled, text to the side reads 'click on to find more materials with the same subject'


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