This guide provides research tips and selected resources for studies in music

Music & Education

Music & Medicine / Psychology

Identifying Literature about Music

Secondary Sources:

  • Critique, interpret, or evaluate primary sources* such as scores, recordings, and performances 
  • You will likely use many secondary sources when you write a music paper

*Remember that it is important to use a variety of primary sources whenever possible.

Below are some of the most common secondary sources used in music research, and how you might use them:

Type Example Uses
Biography Patti Smith: America's Punk Rock Rhapsodist For information on the life and works of performers and composers. Often includes critical assessments of their impact on musical life 
History & Criticism Punk Rock, So What?: The Cultural Legacy of Punk For information on various musical subjects, with a critical historical perspective
Analysis Song Interpretation in 21st Century Pop Music For analyses of music works, genres, and composers
Scholarly Article ‘nor Did I Socialise with Their People’: Patti Smith, Rock Heroics and the Poetics of Sociability For peer-reviewed information that reports on original research, or evaluates the research of others. *You are often required to use this type of source in your papers
Popular Article Patti Smith: At Last, The Lower Manhattan Show For journalistic account of musical performances, music criticism, etc. *Especially helpful in researching popular music
Thesis/Dissertation "She's So Busy Being Free": The Dynamics of Utopia in Popular Music by Women, 1968--2008 For an in-depth treatment of a topic. *Use the bibliographies from theses and dissertations as a starting point for finding sources for your assignments

Finding Secondary Sources

Whether you are searching for books and articles through our library catalogue or in individual databases, the process is similar.

  • Ensure you are in the "Advanced Search" interface
  • Search for sources using a combination of terms and fields, e.g.: 
    • ives (select SU Subject in the drop down menu) AND dissonance (as keyword term) 
    • (dissonance OR consonance) AND theory (try it as a keyword term or SU Subject) AND 20th century 
  • Finally, limit to relevant source types: e.g. books, academic journals...

Here is a somewhat comprehensive list of Music Databases.

Select databases:

For further information on conducting searches, please see Starting Your Research