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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

American Music

A guide to help you begin your research and find books, articles, and special collections materials on American Music topics.


Welcome to the Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL) guide to American music research resources!

Use the tabs to the left to navigate the guide, and don't hesitate to reach out to a librarian if you need extra help. 

Depending on the types of sources you are looking for, you may also want to check out some of our other guides to finding different types of materials. We are linking a few below that might be particularly helpful.

Tips for Exploring the Collection

Search by Subject

Each item in the library catalog is assigned one or more subject headings to tell you what it is about. You can search by subject heading using the catalog's Advanced Search feature. 

To search by subject in the catalog:

  • Open the Library catalog and click on "Advanced Search" to the right of the search bar
  • Underneath "Search filters", you'll see that the default is set to "Any Field"
  • Click on the arrow next to "Any Field" and select "Subject" from the drop-down menu
  • Try a search with one of the subject headings recommended below
  • Once you've found a relevant book in the catalog, you can also use the subjects listed in the record to find additional related materials

Recommended Subject Headings

  • Music--United States (or add a modifier before music, e.g. "Popular Music--United States" or "Rock Music--United States")
  • Music--United States--history and criticism (instead of "history and criticism" you could also try "social aspects" or "criticism and interpretation", depending on your interest)
  • Composers--United States

Browsing the shelves for materials related to your topic can be a great way to identify items that may be useful to you! If you find one or two items in the catalog that seem promising, look on the shelves at the items surrounding them.

Because American music is such a broad topic, it is challenging to give a few call number ranges to explore. We provide browsing recommendations in many topic guides that include American music, so we encourage you to click through any of the guides below to find suggested call numbers for browsing.

Related Resources

In addition to the resource guides listed above, MPAL also has a variety of subject guides collecting recommended resources and tools for particular genres within American music. Depending on your research focus, consider checking out the guides and websites below: