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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Music 501: Grad Music History Review


Reference works can save you a lot of time. They have done the work of compiling information about a person or topic for you and can help you frame your research question. They also have useful bibliographies that can jump start your research process.

Another great starting point is Oxford Bibliographies:

Research & Reference Guides

If you feel like you need more guidance in conducting music research and learning about the various tools available, these books can help.



Bibliographies are excellent tools to futher your research, as someone else has already gathered relevant citations. However, they are not always the most up-to-date on current research.

* Grove Dictionary entries often have very good bibiliographies at the end.

* Bibliographies and guides to research about particular instruments or genres are generally located in the reference collection in the ML128s.

* Repertoire guides for particular instruments are also located in the ML128s.

* Society for Ethnomusicology 'ographies The term "ographies" refers to SEM's collection of bibliographies, discographies, and film/videographies. Published exclusively online, they are an important resource for the latest publications in the field of ethnomusicology. They ceased publication in 2009.


Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

There are many music dictionaries and encyclopedias. Depending on what topic you are researching you may need a very specialized one or a more general one. A few of the best general ones are listed below.

Biographical Information

When Grove doesn't list the person you are looking for, or doesn't include very much information, you can try using the biographical dictionaries listed below.

In addition, there are also book-length biographical tools called bio-bibliographies, which is a bibliography devoted to one composer or concept (like string quartets). They list books, journal articles, and other information about a composer. Sometimes these books are called "guides to research" or "research and information guides". They are typically located in the ML134s in the Reference collection.

Check out our video on Baker's and Harvard for a demonstration on how to access and use these tools. 

Biography of Contemporary Composers

Sometimes it can be difficult to find biographical information about composers who are still living. Some good sources are publisher websites and interviews (either online or in newspapers and periodicals).

Music Analysis

1. There are two major texts for locating analyses of works. They include titles of articles and books that discuss and analyze composer's works.

You can also try the UT Analysis Index, but note that call numbers in this database refer to the UT Library holdings, but search our catalog to see if we own the titles in question.

2. If the work you are studying is not included in Diamond or Hoek, search the library catalog for books that may include analysis of your piece.

Some examples of subject headings in the library catalog that might help you find analysis:

  • Berg, Alban, 1885-1935--Criticism and interpretation.
  • Harmonic analysis.
  • Operas --Analysis, appreciation.
  • Symphonies--Analysis, appreciation.

3. You can also search in journal databases like RILM and Music Index to find individual articles and dissertations about the piece.

4. Finally, you can also try looking in the composer's bio-biobibliography (or guide to research) if there is one to see if it lists any analyses.