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Music: Getting Started with Research


Oxford Music Online is a new gateway that offers users the ability to access and cross-search the vast resources of Oxford's music reference books in one location, including Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Oxford Dictionary of Music, Grove Music Online, Oxford Companion to Music, and Grove Dictionary of American Music. Users can search for topics, or browse by subject entry or biography; all entries are full-text, and some are signed. The database also contains an Essential 20th-Century Reading List, and index of opera roles, and a list of important music timelines.

The Grove Dictionaries of Music are the most important English-language resources for an overview of thousands of music topics. Please note: earlier print editions of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians are available in the Music Library.


Encyclopedia of Popular Music Online

Featuring a broad musical scope covering popular music of all genres and periods from 1900 to the present day, including jazz, country, folk, rap, reggae, techno, musicals, and world music, the Encyclopedia also offers thousands of additional entries covering popular music genres, trends, styles, record labels, venues, and music festivals.

Looking for Articles

Journal articles are available in various formats: digital, print and microfilm, depending on the title and the Library's holdings. At Brooklyn College, many journals such as "Latin American Music Review" are available both digitally and in print; journals such as 'Music Therapy Today" are available only digitally; journals such as "Guitar Player" are available only in print; "Rolling Stone" is available both in print and microfilm. There are even historical journals such as "Lyre Bird" that the Library has on microfilm only.

OneSearch is the catalog of the City University system, comprised of more than twenty Libraries, including Brooklyn College. As part of the Brooklyn College community, you have access to many resources within the entire CUNY Library system.

There is a tab on the Library's homepage for "Journals," which should be used to find the holdings of all journals, whether in print, electronic versions, or microfilm, that the Library has. On the 2nd Floor, in the Music Library, bound print journals are arranged by title on the open shelves and unbound issues of journals are requested at the Music Service desk.

Finding articles within journals involves using many indexes and databases, choosing which are appropriate for a particular topic and then deciding which specific words/terms are best for finding relevant material. Not all search terms work for all the databases. You have to be creative in determining which terms yield the best results.

When doing research, it is often best to start with very specific search terms and if that does not bring satisfactory results the subject search should be broadened. This is the "open your umbrella" approach to research, a tried and true method. Something else to remember is that variant word spellings can affect searches and several options might have to be used.

  • Example: Your topic is "protest songs of the Vietnam War." That might be broadened to use the term "music" instead of "songs."
  • Example: "Vietnam" or "Viet Nam"; "Showboat" or "Show Boat"


Academic Search Premier, designed specifically for academic institutions, is the world's largest scholarly, multi-disciplinary full text database containing full text for nearly 4,700 publications, including more than 3,600 peer-reviewed publications. In addition to the full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for nearly 8,200 journals in the collection. This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization with a dual mission to create and maintain a trusted archive of important scholarly journals, and to provide access to these journals as widely as possible. JSTOR offers both multidisciplinary and discipline-specific collections, covering such topics as Business, Language & Literature, Mathematics & Statistics, Music, Ecology & Botany. JSTOR is not a current issues database. Because of JSTOR's archival mission, there is a gap, typically from 1 to 5 years, between the most recently published journal issue and the content available in JSTOR.

Music Index Online covers all styles and genres of music in periodicals and music literature that features digitized content from 1970 to the present. (The content of volumes from 1949-1969 is available in the Music Library Reference stacks, ML118 .M84.) The Music Index provides citations and abstracts for book reviews, obituaries, new periodicals, and news and articles about music, musicians, and the music industry. The database also provides links to find full-text.

Nexis Uni® Academic provides searchable access to a comprehensive spectrum of full-text information from over 5,600 sources, selected to meet academic research needs, including: national and regional newspapers, wire services, broadcast transcripts, international news, and non-English language sources; U.S. Federal and state case law, codes, regulations, legal news, law reviews, and international legal information; Shepard's® Citations for all U.S. Supreme Court cases back to 1789; Business news journals, company financial information, SEC filings and reports, and industry and market news.

Project Muse offers nearly 200 journal titles from some 30 scholarly publishers, covering the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and many others. Project MUSE provides full-text access to a comprehensive selection of humanities and social sciences journals.


RILM (Repertoire International de Litterture Musicale) Abstracts of Musical Literature

RILM (Repertoire International de Litterture Musicale) Abstracts of Musical Literaturecovers over 3,000 journals in over 200 languages. Entries include original-language titles, title translations in English, full bibliographic information, and abstracts in English, as well as author, journal, and in-depth subject indexes. The database indexes articles, books, conference proceedings, bibliographies, catalogues, dissertations, festchriften, iconographies, critical commentaries to complete works, ethnographic recordings and videos, reviews, and more. Coverage begins in 1835.


RIPM - Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals

RIPM - Retrospective Index to Music Periodicalsis an international annotated bibliography of writings on musical history and culture, found in music periodicals published in seventeen countries between approximately 1800 and 1950. Treating primary source material, RIPM provides access to the content of complete runs of journals, including articles, reviews, news columns, miscellaneous items, surveys of the press, bibliographies, iconography and advertising. In addition, this database offers access to an immense bibliography of music and to thousands of English-language translations of foreign documents.

A joint effort of RISM, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, and Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, this online searchable database of musical manuscripts (interface in German only) includes detailed information on manuscript sources, location, and musical incipits.