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Topical Guides: Music Research

Music Research > 2: Getting Started

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2A: Types of Resources

A portal or gateway site is the best place to begin research. These sites, which are intended to serve as "jumping off" points, will lead the researcher to a variety of useful sources that have been selected because of their relevance or quality. A portal site may include thousands of links on a wide range of topics, or may be very specific in scope and point to a small number of resources.

Portal sites may allow keyword searching, provide topical, hierarchical browsing (drilling down) or both search and browse capabilities. Another useful starting point for research is the search engine, particularly those that are subject-specific.

2B: Examples

American Musicological Society – Sites of Interest to Musicologists

This large list of musicologically related websites is maintained by the American Musicological Society. It covers a wide variety of topics, is well organized, and is updated more regularly than other, similar lists.

OSUL Music & Dance Page

The main web site for the OSU Music & Dance Library collects many of the resources and services most commonly used by its patrons. Various catalogs, databases, organizations, and detailed research guides, among other resources, are all well-organized and presented from this main page. Because it is managed by the OSU Libraries, all paid services linked to on this page will be accessible both on and off campus for OSU students, faculty, and staff. The How do I find...? link collects particularly detailed guides to research on specific topics. Note: some items are OSU access.

Harvard Online Resources for Music Scholars

Harvard College Library has assembled a selective, but very thorough, list of online scores, recordings and archives, bibliographies and discographies, scholarly societies, and other works and web sites of musical interest. Each resource is annotated and tagged by resource type, keyword, and authority. The collection is fully searchable by keyword or assigned tags, making it particularly easy to use.

Center for Popular Music

Compiled at Middle Tennessee State University, this is a small but well-selected list of popular music-specific resources. Music industry and business information, song searches, professional organizations, and reference guides are linked to, along with good detail about copyright and preservation issues. A few resources will only be available to those affiliated with Middle Tennessee State University. It does not contain annotations or other evaluative or descriptive information, so this resource may be more time consuming to use than others.

BYU Music & Dance Online Bibliography & Reference

Though this resource links to several works in progress, focus only on the Online Bibliography here. Over 6,500 bibliographies and reference sources are included, though many of them are only for print materials and/or are not annotated. Regardless, the large scope and useful search tool make this resource a useful one to consult if more selective portals do not help.

2C: How to Find More

The Internet Public Library Subject Collections (IPL)

Core internet resources are arranged by discipline and then by more specific subject area. An option is also available to find associations or serials related to the subject. These sites have been selected and organized by librarians. A link to pathfinders on very specific topics is also available.

Search Engine Guide

This guide indexes over 3,000 directories and search engines. It is organized by category and searchable by keyword.


Search the Harvard Online Resources for Music Scholars for resources related to guitar music. What different kinds of resources can you find?


Pop Quiz

Portal sites are useful for:

Correct answer: [NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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