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These sources provide concise overviews of everything music-related, from theory, to composers, to historical periods. Since music and musicians are very much a part of world history, the sources on the right-hand side are included to provide information on time periods, people, and places.
If you're having trouble choosing a topic for your research, try browsing this page or the Browse Journals tab. You'll get lots of ideas.
Core Music Reference: Dictionary, History, and Biography
Temporarily available Online:
Grove Music Online is an essential tool for anyone interested in researching, teaching, or just learning more about music. Written and edited by nearly 9,000 subject experts, Grove’s 52,000 articles offer clear overviews of topics from a scholarly perspective and include extensive bibliographies, which are curated to guide users through existing scholarship. Grove’s 33,000 biographical articles provide life information and detailed works lists for composers, performers, and other important musical figures. Grove Music Online also features more than 5,000 images, musical examples, and links to audio and video examples. This is the online equivalent (+ additional content) of the New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the library has temporary access to the Oxford Handbooks Online series, which can be searched both by keywords and browsed by discipline. The Music collection of e-handbooks contains 69 handbook titles in a range of reference/background topics.
See also: The Oxford History of Western Music. This title in also temporarily available and is NOT part of the Handbook series.
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians by
Call Number: ML100 .N48
This is as much an encyclopedia as a dictionary. Its 20 volumes embrace the entire world of musical knowledge, offering over 22,500 alphabetically arranged articles, by 2,300 contributors from over 70 different countries.
Oxford companion to Music by
"This classic reference work includes articles that range from clear, concise definitions of musical ideas and terms to extended surveys of musical forms and styles, with specialist coverage of virtually every musical subject. It places music in its social and cultural context, with a range of new entries on topics such as politics, religion, psychology, and computers. The book covers current research in and approaches to music, including analysis, theory, ethnomusicology, and performance practice. All varieties of musical forms are covered, including jazz, popular music, and dance."
The Oxford Dictionary of Music by
For the sixth edition of this classic dictionary, the text has been thoroughly revised and updated. With over 10,000 entries, the Oxford Dictionary of Music (previously the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music) offers broad coverage of a wide range of musical categories spanning many eras,including composers, librettists, singers, orchestras, important ballets and operas, and musical instruments and their history. Over 250 new entries have been added to this edition to expand coverage of popular music, ethnomusicology, modern and contemporary composers, music analysis, and recordingtechnology. Existing entries have been expanded where necessary to include more coverage of the reception of major works, and to include key new works and categories, such as multimedia.Entry-level web links are listed and regularly updated on a dedicated companion website, expanding the scope of the dictionary. The dictionary now also includes two useful appendices, one listing French, German, and Italian musical terms with their English translations, and an abbreviations list forletters commonly used in musical scores and musical writing.The Oxford Dictionary of Music is the most up-to-date and accessible dictionary of musical terms available and an essential point of reference for music students, teachers, lecturers, professional musicians, as well as music enthusiasts.
The Oxford History of Western Music by
Call Number: Temporarily online access available at:
Publication Date: 2005-01-06
"The Oxford History of Western Music is a magisterial survey of the traditions of Western music by one of the most prominent and provocative musicologists of our time. This text illuminates, through a representative sampling of masterworks, those themes, styles, and currents that give shape and direction to each musical age. Taking a critical perspective, this text sets the details of music, the chronological sweep of figures, works, and musical ideas, within the larger context of world affairs and cultural history. Written by an authoritative, opinionated, and controversial figure in musicology, The Oxford History of Western Music provides a critical aesthetic position with respect to individual works, a context in which each composition may be evaluated and remembered. Taruskin combines an emphasis on structure and form with a discussion of relevant theoretical concepts in each age, to illustrate how the music itself works, and how contemporaries heard and understood it. It also describes how the context of each stylistic period--key cultural, historical, social, economic, and scientific events--influenced and directed compositional choices."
General History and Biography
Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era by
Explores the developments that influenced the profound changes in thought and sensibility during the second half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century.
Encyclopedia of World Biography by
Publication Date: 2003-08-08
The first complete revision in 25 years, this 2nd edition includes approximately 2,000 more entries than the first edition, with more women, multicultural and international coverage, bringing the total to approximately 7,000 biographies on notables from every part of the world and from all time periods. Each Supplement adds approximately 200 new biographies.
Europe, 1450-1789 by
This new detailed set explores European history from 1450-1789, from the print revolution to the French Revolution. The set's 1,150 articles, written by eminent scholars, cover major topics in art, government and education as well as providing biographical entries on key figures of the period. In addition, the set covers topics specific to the era, such as apocalypticism, guilds, food riots, royal mistresses and lovers, the Spanish inquisition, Utopia and others. Each volume includes a color frontispiece and an eight-page color insert. Features include approximately 750 black-and-white photographs, 30 maps, a year-by-year chronology, a topical outline and index, a research guide and a comprehensive index.
Europe, 1789 To 1914 by
Publication Date: 2006-07-01
Presents the history of Europe from the Renaissance, the printing revolution, and the Protestant Reformation in the 1400s and 1500s through the Scientific Revolution of the 1600s, and the Enlightenment and the French Revolution of the 1700s.
"Explores the background to 400 years of opera the composers, the singers, plus the buildings and festivals that have developed to showcase them. The development of opera is explored and set in its political and social context. At the heart of the book are concise biographies of major composers, accompanied by portraits and illustrations relating to their works, together with recommended recordings (both historical and contemporary)."
Launched in 2016, Musicmap is a fascinating interactive visualization of music history that "attempts to provide the ultimate genealogy of popular music genres," including the relationships and influences between genres. Visitors to Musicmap will find a colorful infographic designed to resemble a city skyline, with each "building" color-coded and labeled as a different musical "super-genre." Clicking a building brings up a synopsis of its genre with a list of subgenres at the bottom. Users can then click a subgenre to read a short description and find a playlist of examples linked to embedded YouTube videos.