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Music - Guide to Research

The purpose of this guide is to organize the most relevant USD Library resources for students, staff and faculty within the discipline of Music.


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.

There are myriad 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.

  New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 
  Call Number: ML100 .N48 2001  (1st Floor Reference)

  • We have the older editions of Grove in the Reference section--useful for comparative musicology.

    Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik (MGG), 2nd ed. - Friedrich Blume. 
    Call Number: ML100 M987 (1st Floor Reference)

  • Sachteil for things, Personenteil for people. 
  • MGG, like the other large foreign language sets, can be very useful for offering a comparative view or offering more information than Grove.
  • Somewhat more current than Grove, it also provides a handy Google Translate tool.

     Garland Encyclopedia of World Music  CIRCULATING REFERENCE / 3RD FLOOR ML100 .G16 1998

Diccionario de la música española
Call Number: ML101.S7 D53 1999

In addition to the biographical dictionaries listed below, there are also book-length biographical tools called biobibliographies. A biobibliography is a bibliography devoted to one composer.  They list books, journal articles, and other information about a composer. Sometimes these books are called "guides to research." They are typically located in the MLs in the Reference collection.

  Baker's biographical dictionary of musicians- ed. Nicholas Slonimsky. 

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 in periodicals).

  • All Music Guide
    A guide to recordings in every genre. Includes reviews, essays, and ratings. Performer/Group bios include Billboard charts and awards section.
  • Art of the States
    Focuses on new music of the US. Search by Composer, Performer, Instrumentation, Time Period, and Genre. Offers good synopses of pieces and bios of composers. With high-quality audio streams, extensive program notes, and links to related websites of composers, performers, publishers, and record labels.
  • Boosey and Hawkes (publisher) Composers
    Biographies, Timelines, Work Lists, News, Performances, Discographies for composers published by B&H.
  • G Schirmer (publisher) Composers
    Bios of the composers on the Schirmer roster.
  • Lexis Nexis Adademic Universe
    Newspapers from around the world.
  • Naxos Classical Composers
    Bios for classical composers and others whose recordings are on the Naxos label.
  • NPR Music Interviews and Profiles
    Interviews with living composers and musicians and profiles of composers and musicians both living and dead.
The Oxford history of western music - Taruskin, Richard.
Call Number: ML160 T18, 6 vols (3rd Floor)

Duckles, Vincent.  Music Reference and Research Materials, 5th ed.
Prentice-Hall, 1997.  Circulating Reference, 3rd Floor. ML113 .D83 1997.



Crabtree, Phillip.  Sourcebook for Research in Music. Indiana University Press.
Reference 1st Floor. ML113 .C68 2005.

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