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MUS 781 Introduction to Music Bibliography

The purpose of this guide is to organize the most relevant USD Library resources for participants in MUS 781.


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.

What's on this page?

> Guides to Reference Materials and Research

> Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

> Biographical Information

> Biography of Contemporary Composers

> Histories

Oxford Reference Online

Oxford Reference Online


Oxford Reference Online is a fully indexed, cross-searchable database of about 100 dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press.

Searches sources such as:
Encyclopedia of Popular Music,
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music,
The Oxford Companion to Music 
and many more resources all together!

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

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 
print & online!

Call Number: ML100 .N48 2001  (1st Floor Reference)

  • The online version is available through Oxford Music Online as Grove Music Online. Grove Music Online includes Grove Jazz and Grove Opera. See the box at right for more info>>>>>>>
  • We also 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.

Garland encyclopedia of World Music

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

Biographical Information

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. Call Number: ML105 .B16 2001 (1st Floor Reference)


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 in periodicals).




  The Oxford history of western music- Taruskin, Richard.
Call Number: ML160 T18, 6 vols (3rd Floor)

Guides to Reference Materials & Research


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




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

Oxford Music Online

Oxford Music Online

There are four resources within Oxford Music Online, including:

1. Grove Music Online

Note: All three of these Grove titles are searched when you select "Grove Music Online." :

  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. (often referred to as New Grove or NGII) (also available in print)
    Call number: ML100 .N48 2001, 29 vols. (Reference)
  • New Grove Dictionary of Jazz  (also available in print)
    Call number ML102.J3 N482002, 3 vols. (Reference)
  • New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 1992 (also available in print)
    Call number ML102.O6 N5, 4 vols. (Reference)

The New Grove (NGII) is the major English-language music encyclopedia. It was first published in 1879-89 in four volumes under the title Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The 29 volume set found on the Index/Encyclopedia table in the Reference area is the 2nd edition with the title New Grove (but the 7th edition of the encyclopedia overall) and was published in 2001.

More than half of the entries are on composers. Particularly for major composers, these give both biographical data and musical analysis and extensive work lists. Other people given individual entries include performers, scholars, writers, librettists, dancers, patrons, printers, instrument makers and others significant in the history of music. Numerous entries cover a variety of geographical areas--cities, countries, and regions of the world.  The New Grove also includes hundreds of terminological and survey articles on music other than Western European art music including popular music and world music (ethnomusicology).

The New Grove is the most inclusive reference source for music in the English language and is the primary English-language resource for the world's music.

2. Oxford Companion to Music (Alison Latham, 2002)

3. Oxford Dictionary of Music (Michael Kennedy, 2006)

4. Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Colin Larkin)

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