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Music History

Resources for music history library research

Reference Sources

Online Reference Databases

Reference sources are designed to provide users with quick and authoritative background information on a given subject. They are the ideal place to familiarize yourself with a subject and its existing literature, although they should never be the culmination of your research process. The following reference sources are all available online, although log-in might be required off-campus.

Reference Databases, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries:

Tutorial: Oxford Music Online

Oxford Music Online includes articles from The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition (2001), The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992), and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2002).

After searching for a topic, select the article that indicates "Published in print: 20 January 2001" for the most in-depth research and broadest bibliography. For briefer articles, you can choose to search in The Oxford Dictionary of Music or The Oxford Companion to Music. Access Oxford Music Online here.

Classification and Call Numbers for Music Reference

The Music Collection at University Libraries uses Library of Congress Classification, or LCC, for organizing books on the shelves. This system, maintained by the national library of the United States and utilized by libraries across the country and around the world, groups together books on similar subjects. Each item is then assigned a unique call number which combines alphabetical and numerical characters. These features are designed to make browsing library collections easier for users and librarians alike. Tip: Enter the first part of a call number into OneSearch to see all items in a given section.

Call Numbers for Music Reference:

ML 12 - 21   Directories. Almanacs

ML 100 - 109   Dictionaries. Encyclopedias

ML 100   General works

ML 101   By region or country, A-Z

ML 102   By topic, A-Z

ML 105 - 106   Bio-bibliographical

ML 108   Terminological

ML 109   Pronouncing

ML 112.8 - 158.8   Bibliography

ML 113   General works

ML 120   By region or country, A-Z

ML 128   By topic, A-Z

ML 134   Composers, A-Z --> thematic catalogues

ML 134.5   Others, A-Z

ML 135   Manuscripts

ML 136 - 155   Catalogs

ML 155.5 - 158   Discography

Print Reference Books

Most reference works in the print Music Collection can be found in ranges 36 through 40 across from the New Arrivals table. The recommended books below include dictionaries, encyclopedias, and bibliographies of research sources, and are sorted by their call numbers. Hover over the info icon to see a description of the book. Resources on specialized bibliographies can be found at the Bibliographies page while recommended discographies can be found at the Listen to Audio page.

Interlibrary Loan

Users are encouraged to search for items beyond University Libraries' catalog via RILM Abstracts of Music Literature and WorldCat. Materials not available in print or online may be requested through Interlibrary Loan. Please allow up to seven days for electronic delivery and up to fourteen days for delivery of physical items.