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Research in Music: Books

Library resources to help you begin your research in music.

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Handbooks to Research in Music

Bayne, Pauline Shaw.  A Guide to Library Research in Music.  (Ref. ML 3797 .B29 2008)

Gottlieb, Jane.  Music Library and Research Skills.  2nd edition. (Ref. ML 3797 .G68 2017)

Phelps, Roger P.  A Guide to Research in Music Education.  5th edition.  (Ref. MT 1 .P5 2005)  (Also General Collection and Music Library Reference.)  Designed for basic courses in music education research, thesis seminars, and independent researchers. Explains problem identification, writing the proposal and report, methodologies, and trends in the field. 

Sampsel, Laurie J.  Music Research: a Handbook.  2nd edition.  (Ref. ML 113 .S28 2013)  Companion Web site ( lists, by chapter, changes in resources from the 2nd edition (2013) to the 3rd edition (2019).

Scott, Allen, Phillip Crabtree, and Donald H. Foster, editors.  Sourcebook for Research in Music.  2015.  3rd edition.   (Available as an eBook.)  Lists of resources in all areas of music study, together with brief introductions to each area. Includes common music bibliographical terms, a breakdown of the Library of Congress Music Classification, and music-related journal article databases. Covers more recently published materials, as well as those considered as classics in the field.


Dictionaries and Encyclopedias


Blume, Friedrich, ed.  Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik.  16 volumes.  (Compact Shelving  ML 100 .M92)  The classic, basic German-language reference source for music. This edition is somewhat out of date, but still useful, even if you don't read German.

Burns, Kristine Helen, ed.  Women and Music in America Since 1900: an Encyclopedia.  2 volumes.  (Ref. ML 82 .W625 2002)

Collins, Irma H.  Dictionary of Music Education.  (Ref. ML 102 .M76 .C65 2013)  (Also available as an eBook.)

Floyd, Samuel A., ed.  International Dictionary of Black Composers.  2 volumes.  (Ref. ML 105 .I5 1999)

Kennedy, Michael.  The Oxford Dictionary of Music.  6th edition, edited by Tim Rutherford-Johnson.  2013.   (Available in the full-text databases Oxford Music Online and Oxford Reference .)

Kuhn, Laura Diane, editor.  Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians.  Centennial edition.  6 volumes.  (Ref. ML 105 .B16 2001)  (Also available in the full-text database Biography (Gale in Context).)

Latham, Alison, editor.  The Oxford Companion to Music.  2011.  (Available in the full-text databases Oxford Music Online and Oxford Reference .)  Comprehensive single-volume reference to the Western musical tradition. Hundreds of entries explore all aspects of music theory, genres, performance practice, composers, artists, instruments, works, notation, and more. 

McNeil, W.K.  Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music.  (Ref. ML 102 .G6 .E63 2010)  (Also available as an eBook.)

Randel, Don Michael, ed.  The Harvard Dictionary of Music.  4th edition.  (Ref.  ML 100 .A64 2003)  (Also available as an eBook.)

Sadie, Stanley, editor.  The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.  2nd edition.  29 volumes.  (Reference and Music Library Reference ML 100 .N48 2001(Also available in the full-text database Oxford Music Online. Online version is updated frequently.)  The classic, basic English-language reference source for music. Very comprehensive, with complete lists of composers' works.

Strahle, Graham.  An Early Music Dictionary: Musical Terms from British Sources, 1500-1740.  (Ref. ML 108 .S88 1995)

Swain, Joseph P.  Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music.  2nd edition.  (ML 102 .C5 .S83 2016)

Unger, Melvin P.  Historical Dictionary of Choral Music.  (Ref. ML 102 .V6 .U54 2010)  (Also available as an eBook.)

Wlaschin, Ken.  Encyclopedia of American Opera.  (Ref. ML 102 .O6 .W53 2006)

Wlaschin, Ken.  Encyclopedia of Opera on Screen: a Guide to More than 100 Years of Opera Films, Videos, and DVDs.  (Ref. ML 102 .O6 .W55 2004)


Histories and Chronologies

Eisler, Paul E.  World Chronology of Music History.  6 volumes so far.  (Ref. ML 161 .E4)  Detailed chronology of music history worldwide, including forms, styles, development of different theories, individual composers, and highlights of what was happening at the same time in other arts. Time periods are covered in sequence; from about the middle of the 16th century on, so much information is available that coverage year by year is required. Currently covers 4,000 B.C.E.-1796.

Glickman, Sylvia and Martha Furman Schleifer, editors.  From Convent to Concert Hall: a Guide to Women Composers.  (ML 82 .F76 2003)  Organized by time period from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. Contains chronological and geographical lists of women composers.

Kendall, Alan.  The Chronicle of Classical Music: an Intimate Diary of the Lives and Music of the Great Composers.  (Ref. ML 390 .K35 1994)  Basically a timeline, covering 1600 to the present, showing musicians' lives against the backdrop of contemporary world events. Profusely illustrated, with a biographical index of composers.

Heller, George N.  Music and Music Education History: a Chronology.  3rd edition.  (ML 161 .H44 1996)

Lott, Marie Sumner.  The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music: Composers, Consumers, Communities.  2015.  (Available as an eBook.)

Samson, Jim, editor.  The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music.  (ML 196 .C36 2001)  (Also available as an eBook.)  Comprehensive overview of music in the 19th century. Divides the century into two parts chronologically, each of which looks at the major repertoire of the period through essays on the intellectual and socio-political history of the time. Includes a detailed chronology.

Taruskin, Richard.  The Oxford History of Western Music.  6 volumes.  (Ref. ML 160 .T18 2005)  Not a survey, but more of a true history. Attempts to find connections between music and culture, and to explain music as part of a larger whole of life and history.


Hoek, D. J. and Arthur Wenk.  Analyses of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Music, 1940-2000.  (Ref. ML 113 .H695 2007)  (Also available as an eBook.)  Indexes more than 9,000 analyses of works by more than 1,000 composers of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Hopkin, J. Arden.  Songs for Young Singers: an Annotated List for Developing Voices.  (Ref. ML 132 .S6 .H67 2002) 

Parker, Mara.  String Quartets: a Research and Information Guide.  2nd edition.  2011.  (Available as an eBook.)

Pendle, Karin.  Women in Music: a Research and Information Guide.  (Ref. ML 128 .W7 .P46 2005)

Sharp, Avery T. and James Michael Floyd.  Church and Worship Music: an Annotated Bibliography of Contemporary Scholarship: a Research and Information Guide.  (Ref. ML 128 .C54 .S43 2005)

White, Evelyn Davidson.  Choral Music by African American Composers: a Selected, Annotated Bibliography.  2nd edition.  (Ref. ML 128 .C48 .W5 1996)


Series: Resources on Specific Composers, Specific Pieces of Music, or Genres of Music

 Put quotation marks around the series title before searching for it in OneSearch.


Cambridge Music Handbooks.  Books on specific pieces of music.

Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography.  Bibliographies of works on a wide variety of musical genres, specific composers' works, and works for specific instruments or groups of instruments.

Garland Composer Resource Manuals. Books on specific composers. (Now published under the series title, Routledge Music Bibliographies, with a widening of scope to include books on musical genres and music for specific instruments.)

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts.  9 of the 47 titles Dacus owns in this series are music-related.

Routledge Studies in Musical Genres.  Books on specific genres of music.