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MUSC 1110 Kevin Olson: 3. Do Background Research

[MUSC|1110|Kevin Olson]

Oxford Music Online

Oxford Music Online allows you to search across top music reference sources, including The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, The Oxford Companion to Music, and The Oxford Dictionary of Music.

Here you'll find detailed composer biographies, historical background, analysis, works lists, and more.


RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) Abstracts is an index of scholarly articles, reviews, books, and dissertations in music research. The scope of the database is international and covers from 1967 to the present. Use Article Linker to check to see if USU has full text, and if not, request things you find in RILM through InterLibrary Loan.

When searching RILM, you can use Major Topics to search for articles in broad areas of music research. Combining a Major Topic with a keyword helps you refine your results more efficiently. Examples of Major Topics include:

  • 24 Renaissance music
  • 39.21 Popular music of North Africa
  • 54 Performance practice in the 20th & 21st centuries
  • 64 Form and genre analysis
  • 97 Music and Islam

Look up the Major Topics associated with your research question on RILM's Classification System website.

Articles in RILM are also tagged with Subjects, which tell you more specifically what an article is about. You can also search by Subject to find more articles on that narrower topic. The following example shows how Major Topics and Subjects work together to classify an article:

Historical newspapers and magazines

Looking for historical reviews of concerts, reactions of critics, and profiles of composers and performers?

The New York Times Historical File allows you to search the newspaper from 1851 to the present:

The Etude was a monthly American music magazine "for the musician, the music student, and all music lovers" that was published from 1883 to 1957.

Books and ebooks

Use the library catalog to find books and ebooks on your topic by selecting the appropriate Material Types for the resource you are looking for:

Composer biographies are in the ML410 class, roughly alphabetized by composer last name if you'd like to browse the shelves. You can quickly look up the biographies we have of a composer by searching Composers -- Biography as a Subject along with the last name of your composer as a keyword. Here's an example of one biography we have: