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Music Courses & Research

Start with Oxford Music Online (Grove's)

Start in Oxford Music Online for research papers, recitals, and knowledge

Oxford Music Online combines three major print dictionaries: Grove Music Online, Oxford Companion to Music, and Oxford Dictionary of Music.

Grove articles display first (because they are the best). To view results from the other two, click the additional link once you see the results.

Additional encyclopedias can fill in the blanks

Browse in the reference section on the 1st floor in the 780's. Or search one of the multi-disciplinary encyclopedia databases (helpful if you need to know more history aside from music).

Continue with Books

Move to books when you have a sense of how to narrow your topic

Notice Subject Terms

Incorporating subject terms into your search--either by clicking them to do new searches or adding them as keywords--will help you find more sources than you did on your own keywords.

Move to articles when you can be specific

Look for articles when you know your specific topic

If you look for articles before you've narrowed as much as you can, you'll likely choose many interesting articles that are sort of about the same thing--but not really about the same one more specific thing. That makes writing a paper more difficult.

Primary sources and websites?

Primary sources and website sources?

Primary sources

When researching historical music topics, you may find a need to locate primary sources. These are sometimes re-published in books and sometimes available digitized online at museum and archive websites.

  • Search for your topic with the words museum, archive, primary sources, site:org, or a combination of those:
    • screengrab of search with archives and site:org
    • This search led us to a great resource for primary sources on Scott Joplin:
    • screencap of Scott Joplin Archive homepage

Website sources

There is rarely a need to look for non-scholarly web-published content in historical music research. If you are having trouble finding a historical topic in the resources linked above, don't hesitate to contact the librarian!

Evaluation: Three questions

What is it? Why do I care? What does it really say?

You answer these three questions every time you use a source, whether you know it or not.

  • Whether it is a website or a scholarly journal article...
  • Whether it is for a 1st-year course or real life...

Start noticing how you answer these questions to ensure your sources are really meeting your needs.


The Three Questions:

  • What is it: What is the source type and author credibility?
    • Quick Wikipedia checks are okay! You can also compare what other source say about that source.
  • Why do I care: Does the source type and author credibility meet your needs?
    • Decide this at the beginning so you know whether to read the material or find something better.
  • What does it really say: Perceive how the word choices influence the knowledge.
    • The author's word choices, included and excluded information, and the aim of the publication all make a difference in how or why you would use a source.

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