How to Research Music History
This guide will assist you in indentifying major tools for researching music, writing about music, and citing music sources. The goal is to equip you to write a research paper as part of the requirements for the Honors designation in Upper School Choir. Think of these resources as your basic “toolbox” for music research and writing. Remember, there are a world of research tools beyond Google and Wikipedia, and your research will benefit from exploring them!
Encyclopedias are a good starting point for your research, because basic information is presented, lists of works are included for composers, and a bibliography will list books and articles on the topic covered. The leading English music encyclopedia is the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In the Green Library, you have access to Grove Music Online via the library databases. This is the most important tool for you to use as you begin your research.
When writing a research paper about a musical subject or about a composer, you will want to listen to respresentative examples from the period of music history (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, etc.) and/or examples of a particular composer's oeuvre. The Green Library has a much-overlooked online resource called the Naxos Music Library. Naxos has the equivalent of over 91,000 CDs in its database, all accessible to you from the library computers or from home. You have the ability to listen to almost any work of classical music by all of the major composers--explore!