Detail of St. Cecilia, Ghent Altarpiece


Research Guide

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research in music.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.


Personal Librarian:
Charlotte Price
302 Milstein Center, Barnard Library

General Reference Sources

African American music reference [online] brings together text reference, biographies, chronologies, sheet music, images, lyrics, liner notes, and discopgraphies chronicling the diverse history and culture of the African American experience through music. The database is constantly expanding to include comprehensive coverage of blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, slave songs, minstrelsy, rhythm and blues, gospel, and other forms musical expression.

The Garland encyclopedia of world music online contains all 10 volumes of the Garland series on music research throughout the world. Each volume contains an overview of a geographic region, a survey of its musical heritage, and a description of specific musical genres, practices, and performances. Articles include detailed photographs that show musicians, musical instruments, and the cultural context of dances, rituals, and ceremonies. Other images include drawings, maps, and musical examples. While the original series was published in 1997, it remains the core resource for world music.

RILM Music Encyclopedias contain the full-text compilation of 45 seminal titles published from 1775 to the present and comprising nearly 80,000 pages, the majority of which are not available anywhere else online. It provides comprehensive encyclopedic coverage of the most important disciplines, fields, and subject areas, among them popular music, opera, instruments, blues, gospel, recorded sound, and women composers. Its content spans multiple countries and languages–English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, and Greek.

Oxford Music Online (aka Grove Music Online) contains over 60,000 articles written by over 6,000 music scholars. This includes the full text with ongoing updates of The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, 2nd ed., The new Grove dictionary of opera, The new Grove dictionary of jazz, 2nd ed, as well as The Oxford companion to music, The Oxford dictionary of music, and The encyclopedia of popular music.

Oxford Music Online Subject Guides

Oxford Music Online also contains a number of helpful subject guides, mostly with a focus on Western art music, with lists and links to essays, biographies, and further reading.

Oxford Music Online Subject Guides

Belle, Bonne, Sage by Baude Cordier, from Chantilly Codex
Belle, Bonne, Sage by Baude Cordier, from Chantilly Codex


Die Musikstunde by Caspar Netscher
Die Musikstunde by Caspar Netscher


Allegory of Music, by Laurent de La Hyre, from
Allegory of Music, by Laurent de La Hyre


Self-Portrait with a Harp by Rose Adélaïde Ducreux, from
Self-Portrait with a Harp by Rose Adélaïde Ducreux


The Daughters of Catulle Mendès, Huguette, Claudine, and Helyonne, by Auguste Renoir, from
The Daughters of Catulle Mendès, Huguette, Claudine, and Helyonne, by Auguste Renoir


Abstract Trio, by Paul Klee
Abstract Trio, by Paul Klee

Twentieth Century

Brünnhilde throws herself on the flames, by Arthur Rackham
Brünnhilde throws herself on Siegfried's funeral pyre in Wagner's "Götterdämmerung", by Arthur Rackham


Composer Dorothy Rudd Moore, from her website
Composer Dorothy Rudd Moore

Women Composers
Alphabetically, and by time period

Recommended Databases for Journal Articles

A-R Editions' Online Music Anthology is an extensive collection of examples designed expressly for music history courses. Contains textbook articles, as well as music from antiquity through the romantic era, with extensive contents for the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque.All music can be easily previewed onscreen, with the ability to view and print the entire content of each piece.

Arts & humanities citation index (AHCI) contains records indexing journals from 1975 to the present

Humanities Full Text brings full text (starting 1995) plus abstracts and bibliographic indexes (starting 1984) of noted scholarly sources in the humanities, as well as lesser known specialized magazines.

Index to printed music (IPM) is ideal for finding individual pieces of music published in standard scholarly editions. With over 307,000 index records, the database contains detailed indexing including, but not limited to, composers, editors, poets, librettists, performing force (medium), format, genres, musical incipits (for identification), etc.

International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP) Full Text contains more than half a million indexed articles, plus detailed abstracts and full text from 1874 to the present, covering the scholarly to the popular.

JSTOR includes full-text articles from more than 1200 scholarly journals.

The jazz discography [online] is a general discography of all categories of recorded jazz, from 1896 to today. Covers all categories of jazz and other creative improvised music, including Traditional, Swing, Bop, Modern, Avant-Garde, Fusion, Third Stream, etc.

The music index online contains citations to articles about classical, popular, and non-western music in music periodicals from 1970 to present, with some full-text content.

Music Industry Data (Music ID) is a repository of historical and current data from Billboard, Official Chart Company, GfK Entertainment and many more reporting agencies from over 30 countries around the world. Contains sales and rankings data, including data sets.

Music Magazine Archive is a series of digital collections focused on a number of popular music genres. CUL currently subscribes to the Rock and Hip-Hop music groups of magazines. These publications uniquely capture the social and historical context of the repertory, as well as scholarly research areas such as race, class, gender, American studies, youth culture. Researchers will find all material represented in the original publications, preserved in its original context, fully searchable and in high-resolution full color.

Music periodicals index (formerly International Index to Music Periodicals) provides indexing and abstracts for several hundred international music periodicals from over 20 countries, plus full text for more than 140 of the indexed journals. The majority of the records in the database are from the most recent ten years of publication. Some complete journal runs are included, with indexing back to 1874. Covers all aspects of music, including music education, performance, ethnomusicology, musical theatre, theory, popular music forms and composition.

Performing arts periodicals database (formerly International Index to Performing Arts) contains indexing from more than 395 journal titles, with over 160 in full text. Includes approximately 200,000 records with 90,000 from the backfile (up to 1997). Most records contain an abstract.

RILM: Abstracts of Music Literature is an extensive collection of bibliographic records and abstracts focused on music reference and other music related fields. Covers 1967 to the present.

Répertoire international des sources musicales (RILM) is an international inventory of musical sources. RILM catalogs music sources from 1600+ in manuscript format stored in libraries, archives, monasteries, schools, and private collections throughout the world.

Rock's backpages consists of rock reviews, articles, and interviews from the late 1950s to the present day. Searchable and browsable

Finding Books, Scores, and Sound Recordings

Browse the stacks at Barnard and Columbia Libraries using the music call number ranges:

  • M      Music (scores and sheet music)
  • ML    Literature on music, history & criticism
  • MT    Instruction and study, music theory, instrumental techniques, vocal techniques

CLIO - Online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library. Search the Catalog to locate on campus books and sound recordings. Most books on music will be available at the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library.

The NYPL Catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the New York Public Library, including those at the the Music Division and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.

Printed scores are available at the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library. However, there are many electronic resources for scores as well. These include the Classical Scores Library, a collection of digitized scores of important classical music, manuscripts, and unpublished material, and the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), which makes thousands of public domain scores freely available.

A-R Editions' online music anthology contains digitized music scores representative vocal and instrumental compositions from antiquity through the nineteenth century. The database has been designed for customized use in music history classes. Searching criteria include composer, title, genere, language, historical period and language. All selections are available for printing.

Naxos sheet music [online]. Powered by, this database offers over 40,000 sheet music titles, Naxos Sheet Music delivers digital sheet music in all classical genres, spanning music from Medieval to the 21st century and composers from Bach to Arvo Part. Scores can be downloaded and printed, and many works can also be transposed into any key or clef.

New York Philharmonic's Digital Archives contains programs, marked conducting scores, images, and business documents related to its history. Over 1,789 scores marked by Leonard Bernstein, Andre Kostelanetz, and others.

The Open Music Library is curated by a community of music scholars, students, teachers and librarians, bringing together peer-reviewed journal articles, books and music scores from the world’s digital collections. Includes primary and secondary sources.

CLIO Search Tips:

  • Conduct an advanced search and limit the Format to "Music - Recording", or "Music - Score"
  • Use the composer's last name; no initials or punctuation
  • State generic titles in English, and use the plural (like "symphonies" or "concertos", not "sinfonia" or "konzert")
  • Use an opus number or serial number if known, and use standard abbreviations (like op. 5, no. 6)
  • State unique titles in their original language (like "Nozze di Figaro" not "Marriage of Figaro")
  • If a piece is part of a larger work (such as an aria in an opera), try searching for the larger work as well
  • Use the search term "parts" to find chamber or performance parts sets

Sound Recordings and Video
Media materials are available from the Media Collection on the 1st floor of the Barnard Library, as well as at the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library.
CLIO Search Tip: Conduct an advanced search and limit the format to Music - Recording.

Streaming Audio

Contemporary world music [online] contains 50,000+ tracks, blending contemporary and traditional world music recordings from multiple labels around the world. Genres include reggae, worldbeat, neo-traditional, world fusion, Balkanic jazz, African film, Bollywood, Arab swing and jazz and other genres such as traditional music - Indian classical, fado, flamenco, klezmer, zydeco, gospel, gagaku among others. Search or browse by instrument, performer/ensemble, place, people, cultural group, genre, and publishers.

The database of recorded American music (DRAM) contains over 7,000 compositions, including classical, folk, gospel, opera, jazz, country, early rhythm and blues, musical theater, experimental music, electronic music, early rock and Native American music from the United States. Searchable/browsable by composers, performers/ensembles, instruments, labels, and genres.

Naxos Music Library has over 124,000 full albums and over 1.8 million tracks of streaming music in a variety of areas, mostly focusing on Western art classical, film music, and world music. Naxos is organized by album, not by individual track, so you click on an album to see the pieces within. Select the boxes next to the pieces you want to listen to, and click "Play selections" on the left side of the page. Naxos has an app that lets you stream its recordings through a tablet or smartphone, as well. To use this, make a free account under "playlists." Many of the albums also have PDFs with liner notes.

Naxos Jazz Library has over 100,000 tracks of jazz music from over 260 labels. The search and play are the same as Naxos Music Library, but to create your own playlists, Naxos Jazz has a separate account.

Smithsonian global sound offers both audio and video downloads, streaming media, and detailed liner notes for traditional roots music around the world. The collection includes the published recordings owned by the non-profit Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label and the archival audio collections of the legendary Folkways Records among other labels. Includes music recorded around the African continent for the International Library of African Music (ILAM) at Rhodes University and material collected on the South Asian subcontinent from the Archive Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE).

Streaming Video offers over 1800 HD webcasts from many leading festivals, including Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Denis, Aspen, Glyndebourne, and Lucerne, as well as from such music venues as the Opéra National de Paris, Auditorium du Louvre, Cité de la Musique, and Salle Pleyel in Paris, and Milan's La Scala. Many operas and concerts have been webcast both as live events and later as video-on-demand.

Met Opera on Demand contains more than 450 Met performances, dozens of Live in HD productions, classic telecasts from the 1970s, '80s, '90s, and '00s, and hundreds of radio broadcasts dating back to 1936. Includes subtitle options in multiple languages and track listings per production.

Naxos Video Library contains over 2660 full-length videos of operas, ballets, documentaries, live concerts, and musical tours of historic places. It includes the Naxos DVD label, Opus Arte, Arthaus, Dacapo, EuroArts, among others and is continuously updated. Contains subtitles in over 5 languages, and libretti. Search videos by category, role, composer, artist, production personnel, work, venue or festival.

Opera in Video is a streaming video database that contains approximately 250 important opera performances, captured on video through staged productions, interviews, and documentaries. Browsable by composer, performer, genre, time period, and more. Includes searchable transcripts for each work.

Additional Resources

Located in the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library, the Digital Music Lab offers Mac workstations for creating and editing digital audio and music notation, digital pianos, and expert assistance from library staff. 

NYPL's Digital Collections contains over 716,000 digitized items, from books to videos, maps to manuscripts, illustrations to photos, and more. Many items are public domain, but some are restricted to on-site access only. Contains many programs, playbills, and other items relating to New York music history.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music's Leon Levy Digital Archive contains more than 70,000 playbills, posters and ephemera from the history of BAM from as far back as the Civil War era. The archive contains items from over 40,000 artists, with each item being indexed by the people involved. Researchers can create personalized collections based on specific artists, companies, or eras.

CiteSource from Trinity College includes examples of various citation styles and types, and includes a helpful section on citing performing arts resources.

(Images used in this guide courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art or Wikimedia)

Last updated June 21st, 2017