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Tutt Library Research Guides


MU2 201 American Music: Getting Started, Generally

Hot Search Tips!


  • you want to find works by a composer, do an AUTHOR search in the Tiger catalog.  This will bring up anything she has created (scores, recordings, writings, etc).  Select VIEW ENTIRE COLLECTION from the drop-down box.
  • you want to find out about a composer, do a SUBJECT search. Select VIEW ENTIRE COLLECTION from the drop-down box.


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

Some Useful Texts

Music Library Services

Best Bets for your Assignments

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:

  • Groves 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 many articles on American music and its composers.  Good bibliographies and links to other Internet resources. Provides sources on classical music, ethnomusicology, opera, jazz, and much more…
  • The New Grove Dictionary of American Music.  Available in print only, although Groves Music Online currently includes about 350 articles included in the next edition of this work.  Check out the print version to see what's available on your topic.

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

Music- United States

Music -- United States -- 19th Century -- History And Criticism

Popular Music -- United States -- 1901-1910

This heading will pull examples of musical works from this era.

Popular Music -- United States -- 1901-1910 -- History And


This heading will pull up a text about music of this era.

  • RILM

    • RILM covers all types of publications on music, in all media: books, journals, online resources, research-based sound recordings and films, dissertations, and more (see a complete list of document types). Publications represented in RILM originate from 151 countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe.  Articles in many languages with English titles.  Not full text, but very comprehensive coverage-articles may be linked to other sources for full text-otherwise you can order through interlibrary loan.  Try this!

    • ProQuest Historical Newspapers
      Coverage: 1800's - Provides complete, full-image access to historical articles from the Atlanta Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times from 1881 and the New York Times from 1851. For current online articles use Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe. You can limit by dates, publication titles, and more.



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:

  • ML200   General American music histories here

  • ML3508-9 Popular music. You'll find books about popular and  jazz musics in this area.

  • ML 162-197  History by periods here

      For composer/performer biographies:

  • ML 410   Classical composers biographies aranged alphabetically by composer name.

  • ML102 .J3 Jazz Bio-bibliographies

  • ML419 Biographies of jazz performers are located here, A-Z, by last if you're looking for Dexter Gordon, check in ML419 under the Gs.
  • ML420 Biographies of popular performers are located here, A-Z, by last if you're looking for Elvis Presley, check in ML419 under the Ps.


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
Tutt Library, Colorado College      Research Help Desk: 719-389-6662, Texting: 719-387-5441, E-mail: