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MU182: Emotion and Meaning in Music: Getting Started

Hot Search Tips!



  • you want to find works by a composer, do an AUTHOR search in the library catalog.  This will bring up anything she has created (scores, recordings, writings, etc). 
  • you want to find out about a composer, do a SUBJECT search.


  • You'll find books about music in Tutt Library.
  • You'll find music works (scores, media) in the Music Library.

Music Library Services

Find Background Information

Start with gathering an overview of your topic!

You need to take a broad view of your topic, so you can grasp its depth, breadth, and historical context. This will help you refine your topic, enabling you to present an interesting argument in a 5-page paper.

help define your research topic, it often helps to consult some of the standard reference works and tools before searching for books, music materials, and journal articles.

Start with:

  • Grove Music Online. Part of the Oxford Music Online suite, this is the most important English-language resource for music.  Use this resource to locate background information on specific types of music (search by the name of the composer if you know it, or by the genre of music). Contains good bibliographies and links to other Internet resources. Provides sources on classical music, ethnomusicology, opera, jazz, and much more…


  • Searching these types of subjects in the Tiger catalog.  Select SUBJECT and VIEW ENTIRE COLLECTION on the search page:                         

Music-18th century-history and criticism

Music theory -- History -- 18th century

Music -- 19th Century -- Philosophy And Aesthetics

Music -- 20th Century -- History And Criticism

      You'll see that you can combine/trade subheadings to select the span of time and topic of your search!

 Note:  SUBJECT HEADINGS  treat chronological periods as above…don’t use a span of time, e.g. 1900-2000. 



Libraries shelve like topics together; browsing will help you find something surprisingly useful that you may not have noticed in the catalog. Try the following call number ranges in both libraries:

  • ML159-161   General histories here
  • ML 162-197  History by periods here

      For composer's biographies:

  • ML 410   These are organized alphabetically by name of composer.

Additional General Resources

The Harvard Dictionary of Music

A dictionary of music, with brief and extensive explanation of terms. Some articles have bibliographies.


Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians

Short bios of composers, some including short lists of works and writings, including entries for jazz and pop composers.


Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Glossary

Multimedia dictionary of music with sound files and musical examples.


Online Resources for Music Scholars

"provides a basis for beginning electronic research on a wide variety of topics in music, including historical musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, composition, and performance practice. It collects links to archival collections, online scores and sound recordings; article indexes, discographies and bibliographies; scholarly societies; musical reference works; and a miscellany of useful websites."


Digital Librarian: Music

A librarian’s choice of the best of the Web. Lots of annotated links to other sites.

Music Librarian

Daryll Stevens's picture
Daryll Stevens
The fastest way to reach me is via the "Email Me" link above. You may also reach me at 389-6126, or 389-6560