Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

World Music: Searching the Catalog

This guide can help you begin upper level research into ethnomusicology related topics. Especially helpful for graduate students or students in Music 417. Students in Music 133 have a separate guide.

The Basics

When world music recordings are added to the Music and Performing Arts Library's collection, they are given an alphanumeric code taken from the Outline of World Cultures, 6th rev. ed. (New Haven, Conn: Human Relations Area Files, 1983). You can locate world music recordings by searching for this code in the library's online and card catalogs.

Subject Headings

Subject headings are often a good way to find materials on a given topic but they can be unpredictable.  Here are some that might help get you started when looking for ethnomusicological information:

Folk Music

World Music


Those can then be followed by specific country names and/or word and phrases like:

-- History and criticism

-- Discographies

-- Dictionaries

-- Encyclopedias

Example: World Music -- Latin America -- History and Criticism



Steps for Searching the Catalog for World Music Recordings

One way to find recordings of music from a specific country would be to limit your search to music recordings and do a keyword search for the name of the country. However, this isn't as exact and will find you things like "Mozart in Egypt." A better way to do the search would be to make use of the country codes that we put in the information about each recording in the catalog. Here's how to do it:

Step 1:  Ask for the Outline of World Cultures at the Reference Desk. The call number is GN345.3 M871983. There is also an online guide to the Human Relations Area Files, but the codes from the book match our catalog.

Step 2: Using the index, find the alphanumeric code for the continent, geographic region, nation, or ethnic group in which you're interested.
Example: You wish to listen to recordings from Mongolia. You check the index and discover the code is AH1.

Step 3: Search the online catalog. Do search by "Subject" for HRAF AH1
Don't forget to put HRAF in front of the code and leave a space between the HRAF and the code! This should return a list of compact discs, records, and cassettes of Mongolian music.

catalog search box




If you need a comprehensive list of our holdings, also search the card catalog. Go the beginning of the "H" drawer and search for HRAF AH1.
This will give you older records and cassettes.

If you can't find what you're looking for, try using a more general number. For example, if you're looking for recordings from the Amhara, a region in Ethiopia (HRAF MP5), but get no results, search the general number for Ethiopia (HRAF MP1).

You can also search for this material using traditional subject headings--some examples:

  • Instrumental music --Morocco
  • Music --Egypt
  • Popular music --Arab countries

If you need assistance, please ask!

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Music and Performing Arts Library
1300 Music Building
1114 W. Nevada St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Contact: Twitter Page
Subjects: Dance, Music, Theatre