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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

American Music: Reference Works

Oxford Music Online

Oxford Music Online is an excellent general reference tool for music that via Grove Music Online contains:

  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
  • Grove Jazz Dictionary
  • Grove Opera Dictionary
  • Grove Dictionary of American Music (in progress)
  • Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (in progress)

MPAL also has all of these titles in print.

U.S.-specific dictionaries

Dictionaries specific to American music will often contain entries on American people and topics not included (or not given much space) in the general reference works listed above.

Reference and bibliographic guides

These comprehensive guides to the literature on American music are a good place to start, and can lead you to bibliographies and works on more sepecific topics.

Composer research guides

To find reference works or guides to research (also called bio-bibliographies) for a specific composer, there are a number of searches you can try in the online library catalog.

1. Search for the composer's last name and the phrase "guide to research" in a catalog Keyword search.

2. Search for the composer's last name and the term "bio-bibliography" in a catalog Keyword search.

3. Search for the composer's last name and the term "bibliography" in a Subject search

Subject Guide

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Music and Performing Arts Library
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Subjects:Dance, Music, Theatre