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Music research

Liaison librarians

  • Cynthia [dot] Leive [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-4694
  • Cathy [dot] Martin [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-5874
  • McGill users only
  • Open access resource
  • Free resource
  • In-library-use only
  • Catalogue record

Sources for background information


Terminological dictionaries

Biographical dictionaries


General | Bibliographies of music | Bibliographies of music literature

  • Music Reference and Research Materials: An Annotated Bibliography, 5th ed.
    ML113 D835 M9 1997
  • Sourcebook for Research in Music, 2nd ed.
    ML113 C68 2005

At the call number ML128 many bibliographies of music for individual instruments and voices and various ensembles may be found. Below are only a few examples:

  • Music for Oboe, 1650-1800
    ML128 O2 H55 1992
  • Music for Piano and Orchestra: An Annotated Guide
    ML128 P3 H53 1993
  • Repertoire for the Solo Voice
    ML128 S3 E8
  • The Wind Ensemble Catalog
    ML128 W5 G52 1998

Bibliographies of music literature list articles, books, dissertations and/or other materials written about musical topics.

Oxford University Press has launched an online series, Oxford Bibliographies, that deals with an expanding list of topics from "American Music Theory, 1955-2010" to "William Byrd."

Book-length bibliographies are also available online via the Library catalogue. (Here's just a sampling.) But to get a full sense of the variety of different approaches, make sure to browse the shelves between ML113 and ML134. Some examples of what you'll find:

  • Baroque Music: A Research and Information Guide
    ML116 B37 1993
  • A Dictionary-Catalog of Modern British Composers
    ML120 G7 P68 2000
  • Jazz Research and Performance Materials: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, 2nd ed.
    ML128 J3 M33 1995
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: A Catalogue, Bibliography, and Discography, 3rd ed.
    ML134 S485 H8 2002
  • Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis
    ML134 B1 S3

Searching the Library catalogue

How to find scores

How to find recordings

General search tips

Use the basic word(s) anywhere or advanced keyword search in the library catalogue. You can search using words for such things as historical periods (e.g., baroque, renaissance, romantic), musical genres (e.g., punk, folk songs, symphonies), musical styles (e.g., galant, bop, minimalist music), instruments, and individual musicians.

Truncation symbol: ? e.g. music? will retrieve catalogue records containing the words music, musical, musician, musicological, etc.
Phrase searching: "___" e.g. "cool jazz" will retrieve catalogue records containing the phrase cool jazz
Boolean operators: (), AND, OR, NOT
default: AND
e.g. mozart AND (figaro OR "clemenza di tito") will retrieve catalogue records containing the word mozart AND either figaro OR the phrase clemenza di tito

Search the Library Catalogue

Core and additional databases

Much of the literature written about music - books, articles, conference reports, reviews - is indexed in databases. Below are lists of the databases available at McGill for discovering this literature.

Core periodical indexes, bibliographies, full-text articles (electronic databases)

Additional databases

Full text music journals may also be searched or browsed via

Databases for other disciplines

Music is an interdisciplinary subject touching on such areas as literature, sexuality and gender, mathematics, engineering, and sociology, just to name a few. Databases that index the literature of these related areas can also be helpful in music research. For database recommendations in other areas, please consult the complete list of McGill subject guides.

Streaming audio databases

Selected Internet sites

Other resources

Print guides to music research

  • Music Research: A Handbook.
    ML113 S28 2009
  • Music Library and Research Skills.
    ML3797 G68 2009

Aids for writing your assignment

  • The Craft of Research, 2nd ed.
    Q180.55 M4 B66 (on reserve)
  • Irvine’s Writing about Music, 3rd ed.
    ML3797 I79 1999
  • Writing about Music: An Introductory Guide, 4th ed.
    ML3797 W54 2009
  • Writing About Music: A Style Sheet
    ML3797 W75 2008

Aids for writing your bibliography

Related subject guides

Please refer to some of the Music Library's other music subject guides:


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