Library Resources for Music

Why do research?

Research can lead to information; information can lead to knowledge, and knowledge is powerful. All of the informational resources available originated from someone being curious about something, exploring it, and sharing the findings.

Location of Resources

Classification system:  The John Vaughan Library uses the Library of Congress Classification system in which the “M’s” represent music.  “M3" is used for collected works of individual composers; “M6-1490" is instrumental music; “M1497-1500" is for vocal music; “ML” is for literature about music; and “MT” is for music instruction and study.  This classification system is used throughout the library.

Library floor maps
Library hours

  • First floor: Music CDs, DVDs, and class reserve materials are located at the north service desk.
  • First floor: Reference contains music encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other print resources.
  • Second floor: The Curriculum Materials Collection has music education textbooks and teacher resources.
  • Third floor: Books, music scores, biographies, criticisms and music education methods books.

For questions on using the library inquire at the first floor's north service desk or contact Gary Cheatham, who is the Resource Coordinator for Music.

Cycle of Information

The cycle of information is an interesting one.  Research starts with an idea.  Someone becomes curious about something and wants to explore it.  Literature reviews are conducted, empirical evidence is gathered.  The researcher may wish to cross disciplinary lines and for example take a learning theory and apply it to Music.  The researcher writes an article.  If the article adds to the body of knowledge or presents a new concept, a journal in that discipline might be interested in publishing it. Article submissions go through a reviewing process in which multiple reviewers will read and comment on the article.  This is an example of a refereed journal article. If it passes the review process, the article is published in the journal.  Indexers read journal articles and assign subject headings to the articles and place the citation in indexes (such as Music Index).  Researchers comb indexes to find articles, and the whole cycle starts over.  This is a cycle that occurs right here at NSU.  Our faculty and students are publishing. 

Overview to Research in Music

A good book for an overview to research in the field of music is Music Reference and Research Material: An Annotated Bibliography (Ref. ML 113.D83).

A good approach when starting research in Music is to search Oxford Music Online first.  It is encyclopedic in nature and provides an overview to composers, instruments, and music history.   The bibliographies and discographies at the end of the article provide clues for finding additional information. 

Biographical Sources:
After searching Oxford Music Online (do a Biographies search under "Advanced Search"), additional biographical information can be found by searching the composer or musician by subject (last name first) in the Library Catalog.  Articles can be found by using the Music Index.  With the Music Index, search composers using inverted order and quotation marks (example:  "copland, aaron"). 

Well known publishers in music include Shirmer, Grove, Dover, Belwin Mills Kalmus, and Hal Leonard.  Useful series include the Oxford Composer Companions and Women Composers:  Music Through the Ages.

Music History:
Two useful series are the New Oxford History of Music and the Oxford History of Western Music.

Locating Scores and CDs:
Besides biographical information about the composer, it is beneficial to examine scores and listen to CDs to gain insight to a composer. To locate scores, use the Library Catalog to do a combination search and list the composer as the author and change the format to score. To locate a CD by a specific composer, search the Library Catalog by doing an advanced search and searching by the composer's last name. Limit the search by selecting "Material Type" and choosing "Sound record."  This will provide a list of records and CDs that contain the composer's works.  There is a series of books on Mozart (Getting the Most Out of Mozart) that include CDs with the books.
The Research Strategies YouTube video can provide a general overview to getting started in researching a topic.

General Database Concepts

When approaching a database, look for help screens for complete information on how to search it effectively.  Check for scope notes that identify the contents of the database.  Check for advanced search screens and identify different ways that the search can be limited.  For instance, what dates and types of materials are included in the database? Can it be searched by full text and subject?  Can the search be limited by date, language or full text? Each database uses controlled subject headings that can be accessed through the online Thesaurus. 

Oxford Music Online

Oxford Music Online includes the online version of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians which is the standard encyclopedia for the Music field. 

Periodical Sources

To locate Music journals, do a subject search on the Library Catalog (examples of subject headings include the following: Music--Periodicals. or Opera--Periodicals.)

     General Indexes for Music:

Academic Search Premier
Humanities Fulltext
Music Index

     Music Education:

Education Full Text
Professional Development Collection

Internet Resources

Of course, there are many resources available through the Web. The librarian for the department has created the Music page which lists some useful Web sites.  The library provides a list of search engines. Try the library's Google When and How to Use It tutorial, and the Google Tips and Tricks tutorial.

What Is Authority and Why Is It Important?

Experts in a field are individuals who might have degrees in a field, work in the discipline, and have published in the subject area.  Their opinions can be very useful in finding credible sources.  For instance, anyone can write Wikipedia articles, but only experts can contribute to Encyclopaedia Britannica. Keep the following concepts in mind when choosing and using resources for research:
1. Identify authors who are outstanding in their fields, determine the credentials of the author. Does the author have a degree in the field, is the author a professor?
2. Date of publication--is it recent? On Web pages, do the links work?
3. Does the publisher have a good reputation? Is it published by a professional association or university press? Is the journal refereed? On Web pages, check the domain (.edu is educational, .gov is government, .com is commercial, .net is network, .org is organizational)
4. How was the resource received by the critics?
5. Completeness of the material. Does the source have an index, bibliography?
6. Is the language slanted or biased?
7. Does it include well known facts or research studies? Is the information complete, accurate, objective?
8. What is the purpose of the resource?  Is it for the general public, children, scholars? Is the goal to market persuade, educate?

Citing Sources

To avoid plagiarism, it is important to cite materials correctly. This website provides a lot of useful information on plagiarism, including how to prevent it. Words and Music, the style manual for Music majors, is located on the first floor behind the Reference Desk (Ready Ref ML3797.H49 1982).

Interlibrary Loan

Materials that are not available at the Northeastern State University may be acquired through Interlibrary Loan.  This is a free service that is provided online.  Allow several weeks for an Interlibrary Loan to arrive.  Hard copy loans are available for pick-up at the Circulation Desk on first floor.

Professional Associations

American String Teachers Association

ASCAP (American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers)

College Music Society 

Conductor's Guild

International Society for Music Education

K-12 Resources for Music Educators

Music Teachers National Association

National Association for Music Education

National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)

Oklahoma Music Educators Association

Oklahoma Music Teachers Association

Page maintained by: Erica K. Argyropoulos
Last Updated: October 12, 2017