Music History Research Guide: Finding Scholarly Articles

basics of research for music history

The best way to find scholarly articles in music is to search music-specific article databases. Music researchers used to find scholarly articles by searching for citations in print indexes such as Music Index and RILM Abstracts of Music Literature. Using relevant citations, they then searched the shelves for the sources they needed, such as print journals or books of essays. 

Music researchers can now use the electronic versions of Music Index and RILM, to which we buy subscriptions, for the same purpose. The crucial difference is that now these databases link to full text of many of the articles. It is very important to note, however, that not every resource which has been cited is available electronically. In such cases, researchers still need to look for print volumes on the shelves. The back issues of our print journals have been bound and are shelved in alphabetical order by journal title on the north range of shelves in the Music Library. Current issues which have not yet been bound are on special shelving on the northeast side near the music services desk. Bound volumes for which we now have electronic coverage are in remote storage.

We still have the print runs of Music Index and RILM filed by title with our bound journals. This is especially important for Music Index, for although it began publication in 1949, its electronic database only goes back to 1970. RILM, which began in 1967has its entire database online. 

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