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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.

Accessing Research Resources

  • To find and access all resources, begin at the library homepage 
  • To find music databases, select the tab entitled “Databases” on the search box located in the middle of the page. From the “A-Z Databases” link, select the “Music” subject limiter.

  • Access is authenticated through a proxy server; users simply login with their USD email account/MyU login.


Getting Started

Research is a circular, iterative process. This means that at times you may have to retrace your steps, ask different questions, or consult additional sources. Ideally, you will create a plan for yourself, outlining the questions you want to answer in your paper and/or during your research.  There are different tools to help you at various stages of your research. Some of them are online and some are in print. This guide will aid you in understanding these tools.

The chart below lists the tools available to you, and provides links to pages describing them within this guide.

Reference Sources Go to these for definitions and shorter explanations. When first beginning a research project, it's always a good idea to get background material on your topic. This can give you some context for the topic you are studying and help you narrow your research question. Reference sources also give you some ideas of where to start searching for materials, since most have bibilographies. Dictionaries and encyclopedias can be found for broad areas of music and for very specific subjects, so it's best to start big and work your way smaller as you narrow your focus

A book can provide detailed background and historical information.  Once you've narrowed your research question, you'll want books about the topic, and possibly scores and recordings of the music you are studying. Most of our books, scores, recordings, and other materials are listed in the online library catalog. Use the "Finding Music Materials" tab of this guide to get more information about how to find items by format or to narrow your search. Keep in mind that there may not be an entire book about your topic. You may need to look for more general books about the type of music or the composer you are studying and then check the table of contents or the index to see if there is any information more specific to your topic.

Articles from journals and magazines include recent research in a field. Most cutting-edge research in music will appear in articles first. 

Once you have found background information about your topic through reference sources and books, you may want to find writings more specific to your topic such as journal articles. One way to do this is look at the bibliographies of the resources you have already consulted--they will list books and articles the author used. You may also need to use journal databases to search for articles. University Libraries databases can help connect you to these articles.

Web Sites The internet can provide a wealth of information; such as time management, copyright, and professional organizations.

While some of the resources in this guide are freely available, most research databases and electronic journals and many online library services have access restrictions that require that you be a current University of South Dakota student, faculty member, or staff member.

See this page that describes how to log in to all of our databases. 

Check out the video tour of the library above or the text version of "What & Where @ U Libraries"


> 1st floor: Reference materials, Media (ask at the circ desk)

> 2nd floor: A handful of print journals

> 3rd floor: Books and Scores 

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