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Research Guides

Music: Research: Specialized Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

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. 


General History and Biography