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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.
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.
Bibliographical Handbook of American Music by
Call Number: ML120.U5 K78 (Reference)
An overview of the bibliographic sources of American music, divided into four categories: chronological perspectives, contextual perspectives (regional, ethnic, and personal), musical mediums and genres, and bibliographical forms (source materials, writings about music, discography, music bibliography, and bibliographic guides).
Literature of American Music by
Call Number: ML120.U5 L481, ML120.U5 L482, ML120.U5 L483 (Reference)
This three volume set provides a comprehensive inventory of the 5,100 books representing the core literature on American music from 1640-1992. The first two volumes are available online (follow the link in the catalog record).
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