How to Music Research
So you may have a research paper coming up. You may just want to know more about music. If you’re interested in getting more info on music, then here are the tips that’ll get you results.
Free to anyone:
Guide to Using Music Libraries: This one includes a lot of things specific to my school, but everything outside of stuff regarding the campus is universal. It contains guides for using a library, how to search for stuff using databases, useful links, music databases, and more.
IMSLP: Basically any music that is public domain somewhere is here somewhere. You may have to click through some stuff, and if the music is obscure then the scan may not be great, but it’s here somewhere!
CPDL: If you need choral music, or to learn stuff about choral music, CPDL is where to look!
Lieder.net: This is a pretty-nearly comprehensive list of lyrics to art songs.
The Aria Database: This database contains most operatic arias and their lyrics.
JSTOR (Public domain stuff): JSTOR is great, and anything that’s in the public domain on the site is free for anyone to access.
MusicRef: Includes repertory guides, bibliographies, indexes, and other resources for finding out stuff about music. A tip for this is to search something broad – “orchestra,” instead of 19th century orchestral compositions.
Harvard’s Online Resources for Music Scholars: A giant list of music databases, most free for anyone to use! Includes sheet music, scholarship, and primary sources.
Free Online Music Journals: This is a huge list of online research journals that are free to view! I haven’t seen how they choose who may be included in this list, so beware of sources that aren’t peer reviewed.
Other listening links: If you’re trying to find new stuff to listen to, or if you’re looking for something super specific and YouTube isn’t helping, you can probably find it here. Check out the Smithsonian links, if you can!
Lists of bibliographies about music: If you’re trying to find something on a specific topic, looking through bibliographies is super helpful.
For those with access to academic libraries and their indices:
Note: you should probably access these through your library’s website, because it’s a pain to get access through the main site.
Grove Music Online: A super extensive encyclopedia about basically everything regarding music, ever. I’m talking 30 pages about people I’ve never heard of. 20 pages just about bibliographies. It’s great!
Web of Science: This is a little tricky to use, but essentially it shows what researchers have been cited by other researchers. You can find who has cited what, what has been cited by whom, and related sources. It’s great for anyone who is having issues finding new sources, or to just go diving with.
Naxos: This is a huge database of recordings of pretty much anything classical, and a lot besides. It’s a great resource for planning recitals, researching for history classes, or just screwing around and find new stuff.
JSTOR: The OG. It has pretty much anything you could want in there somewhere. The problem is that it has everything else, too, so you need to know what general kind of thing you’re looking for and understand how delimiters work. If I go for my doctorate, I’m going to get myself a JSTOR sweater and t-shirt and no one can stop me.
Project Muse: An online collection of recent journal publications – anything that JSTOR doesn’t have is likely to be on Project Muse. It also has books and other scholarly sources that are too recent to have gotten anywhere else.
Ebscohost: There are about 8.9 billion databases included in Ebscohost, each one curated for specific content. If JSTOR or Project Muse are too broad, try using specific databases in Ebscohost to find what you’re looking for.
RILM and RIPM: These are just gigantic bibliographies, or collections of the abstracts from music research documents. You can search for stuff, check out the abstracts that come up to see if they’re relevant, and then armed with the titles of papers, go get the full text from JSTOR. They are a musician’s Friend.
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