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Research Guide: MUSC 1901 - The First-Year Experience


Research Tips


Library Guides

Librarians have written a number of different guides to help you use and find resources.  To access all guides, on the main page, under Find, click on Guides.


Reference Resources

Reference resources include encyclopedias, dictionaries and other materials you use to "refer" to. Use these resources for background information on a topic.  For home or off campus access please use your WSU Login.
PRINT REFERENCE RESOURCES (Encyclopedias and Dictionaries)

Listed below are some selected examples. Browse the shelves in the reference collection, Middle Level under the call number M and on Reference Table 2A to see many more reference books on music:

  • The Encyclopedia of Popular Music  (REF ML102.P66G84 1998)
  • The Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre (REF ML102.M88G3 2001)
  • Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (REF ML100.G16 1998 )
  • The Hymn Tune Index (REF ML128.H8T46 1998 )
  • Infinite Elvis: An Annotated Bibliography (REF ML 134.5 .P73 H56 2001)
  • Music Hound: This series includes Music Hound titles on Rock, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Country and Folk. All in the M section of the reference collection, middle level
  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Reference table 3A) -- This contains long articles on a wide variety of subjects. Each article has a bibliography. Online version is listed above.
  • New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments and Instrument Makers (Reference table 3A) --
  • The New Grove Dictionary of American Music  (REF ML101.U6N48 1986)
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (REF ML102.J3N48 2001)
  • New Harvard Dictionary of Music (REF ML 100 .N485 1986) -- has definitions of musical terms and historical articles. See "Education in the United States" for a history of music teaching practices.
  • Rap Whoz Who (REF ML400 .S77 1996)
  • Rocket Man: The Encyclopedia of Elton John (REF ML410.J64 B4 1995)
  • Story of Rock 'n' Roll   (REF ML3534.S87 1995 )
  • Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (REF  ML102 .P66 V57 2002)
  • Women Composers : music through the ages  (REF M2.W88 1996)
  • World Chronology of Music History  (REF ML161.E4)


Finding Books, Scores, CDs and other media

Catalogs: Catalogs tell you what a specific library owns.  Use the WSU Stewart Library's online catalog, to find scores and other books on music. You can search by keyword or alphabetically browse by author, title or subject. Use WorldCat to find books in other libraries. For home or off campus access please use your WSU Login.

Call Numbers: Call numbers are the address of a specific book, recording, video, or all issues of a journal or magazine. We use the Library of Congress system which uses letters and number subject codes. 

  • M - Music
  • ML - Literature on Music
  • MT - Musical Study & Instruction

Location Codes:  Location codes tell you the general area of the library to look in. General Collection means books that can be checked out. Music General Collection books are on the Top Level of the library. 

Finding things in the catalog:

  • Scores: To find scores by a specific composer or of a specific composition, limit your search to Music scores under Format in the Limits box and then do a General Keyword Search using the name of the composer and/or the title of the composition. You can also do an alphabetical search by author (includes composer), title or subject; note that the Format limits mentioned above do not work when doing alphabetical searches. Scores are generally found in the M1 -M1490 call number area.

  • Music Books: Do a general keyword search on you subject or alphabetically browse by title, author or subject. Most music books are found in the General Collection under the call number "M" on the Top Level. It is useful to browse the shelves to get an overview of the music collection. 

  • CDs & other audio recordings: To find CDs & other recordings of a specific composition or by a specific composer, limit your search to Audio recordings (musical) under Format in the Limits box and then do a General Keyword Search using the title of the composition and/or the name of the composer of the composition. You can also do an alphabetical search by author (includes composer), title or subject; note that the Format limits mentioned above do not work when doing alphabetical searches. Audio recordings are located on the Lower Level of the Library to the north of the Circulation Desk. Ask the Circulation staff for assistance.
  • Use WorldCat to find books, scores, and recordings in other libraries, locally and globally. Select Scores Scores to limit your search to music scores or Speaker Sound Recordings to limit your search to recordings. Be aware that sound recordings may not be available via interlibrary loan.

Interlibrary Loan: If we do not own a particular book or article you need, we will borrow it for you from another library through Interlibrary Loan.


Finding Articles

Popular Magazines versus Scholarly Journals:  Popular versus scholarly has to do with the audience:

  • Popular - these are written for a general audience and are usually called magazines.  They are written in easy to understand language, often with pictures - you can find them at Albertson's or Walmart.  Examples are:  Time, People, Elle, Outdoor Life, Smithsonian, National Geographic.
  • Scholarly - these are written for a specialized or professional audience and usually called journals.  The are also called professional, academic, peer reviewed and refereed journals.  They are written by experts using scholarly language for other experts or students.  They have reference lists or bibliographies.  You can find them at the library and occasionally at Barnes & Noble.  Examples are:  Journal of Musicology, Music Theory, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association),  The Historian.

Primary versus Secondary Sources:  primary/secondary has to do with the writer's closeness to what s/he's describing.

  • Primary - the author is writing about something they observed or researched in person.  Examples:  news reports by eyewitnesses, letters, journals, some government records, most statistics, science experiments, most research.
  • Secondary - the author is decribing something other people observed or researched.  Examples:  most popular magazine articles, many newspaper articles, reviews of research.


Don't confuse popular/scholarly with primary/secondary.   Popular sources can be primary sources and scholarly sources can be secondary sources.  Examples:

  • An article in Newsweek about Mick Jagger, written by a reporter who interviewed Mick Jagger is a popular, primary account.
  • An article in Newsweek about the Rolling Stones, written by a reporter who compiled accounts of people who were at various past concerts is a popular, secondary account.
  • An article in the Journal of Musical Theory about the author's original research into harmonics is a scholarly/primary source.
  • An article in the Journal of Musical Theory that reviews the research done by others on harmonics is a scholarly/secondary source.

To find articles on your topic you need to use article databases.  Use our Database Finder page to access these and many more databases. For home or off campus access please use your WSU Login.

  • Academic Search Premier - Provides citations, abstracts and many full text articles in magazines and journals in all subjects.
  • RILM - Abstracts of Music Literature - Provides citations, abstracts, and some links to full text, of scholarly music literature from 1969 to present.
  • IIPA -- International Index to Performing Arts - Citations, abstracts and some full-text articles on all aspects of the performing arts - a good place to look for musical theatre and performance information.
  • ERIC - Citations, abstracts and links to some full-text articles from the scholarly literature of education. The best source for articles on music education.
  • JSTOR  An archive of scholarly, full text journals, many of which go back more than 50 years. Note that most journals are not available for the most recent years.
  • Arts & Humanities Search - Citations and some links to full-text for articles from many of the world's leading arts and humanities journals from 1980 to the present.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch  - Full text  articles from U.S. minority and ethnic newspapers, magazines, and a few journals in English and Spanish from 1960 to the present. A good place to find information on ethnic music trends.

If you are doing a topic that overlaps with other subject area, check databases for those subject areas as well.  For example:

  • For the psychology of music, use a psychology database.
  • For the impact of music on stress responses, try a medical database.

Ejournals is a database of all the full-text journals, magazines and newspapers that are available to WSU library patrons in all of our different databases.  You can search the name of the journal by title or title keyword to get a link to the resource.


Other ways to find Music and Recordings

From the Internet: Many different types of music are available on the Internet. These can be stored in many different file types. Use the Web Resources links below and Search Engines to search for audio files on the Internet. 

From Online Stores: Order music online from Amazon.Com, Barnes and Noble or many other stores.  Buy by the song at places such as:, iTunes, and even WalMart.  (NOTE:  listing of commercial sources is meant as to provide examples and does not imply endorsement - read the fine print before you buy.)

Interlibrary Loan:  If we do not own a particular CD, Video or other media needed, we can try to borrow it for you from another library through Interlibrary Loan.  Be aware that it is often difficult to order media as many libraries do not lend audio tapes, CD's or videos.


Music Piracy

Whether you think it's fair or not, downloading music that's not specifically labelled as free is often considered stealing. Here are some sites that look at the issue.

  • Fair Use - from Stanford University
  • The Music Piracy Myth - from Tim O'Reilly's Weblog - interview with and links to information about George Ziemann, a musician who supports music sharing.


Web Resources

Here are some WWW sites to get you started. Most of these will take you to other links, so explore!

"The Hidden Web" consists of sites that search engines can't find, usually due to the type of files they contain, such as PDF and database files. Many of these sites are very useful. The best way to find them is to use directory listings. Many of the sites listed above list Hidden Web sites. Try Google:Music or the music section of other good general directories include: Librarian's Index to the Internet, and The Internet Public Library as well as the directory features of Google and Yahoo. Search engines such as Google are just beginning to search some of these sites. 

You can also use a search engine to find more specific pages. I recommend Other good search engines to try are: and Kartoo  charts results graphically - give it a try.  And remember: evaluate, evaluate, evaluate!


Updated May 24, 2010 .
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