Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates: the COD Library building is closed until further notice.


Musical Note.jpg

Welcome to the Music Research Guide

This guide is designed to assist you in locating resources such as books, videos, articles, websites for use in the study of Music.

If you need additional help, please contact the Music Librarian or stop by the Reference Desk. You can also get help from our online reference service: Ask A Librarian.

Everything is on the Internet, right? No.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are millions of books and articles whose content is not freely available on the open web.

As we all know the Internet contains an incredible amount of useful information. Conversely, it also has a lot of information that is not credible, reliable or well-informed. Some information on the web are blatant lies, or half-truths published in order to support a particular belief or opinion. (For more information on learning how to distinguish the good, bad and ugly on the Internet, see The CRAP Test.

Using resources available through the Library will save you time and frustration, and undoubtedly will lead you to producing higher-quality work.

Types of Resources:

Reference Materials:

Use reference materials, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries to get background information and a basic understanding of your topic.

Book & Journal Articles:

Books and journal articles provide a more focused examination of the topic. Again, most books and articles found in the Library's databases are written by experts.

Getting Started

Start your research by clicking on the tabs below.

  1. Books, Scores, Recordings, Videos
  2. Databases
  3. Websites

Finding Books

Search the Library's Catalog to locate books, scores, sound recordings and videos on music-related topics. Our collection includes materials written by and about composers and musicians, music theory and performance-related works.


I-Share allows you to borrow books from over 80 Illinois academic libraries. You must have a current COD library card, and create an account to request books from an I-Share library. Current COD Online students can obtain a library card online.

Search by:

  • Author/Composer: Search for works written by an author, artist or composer
  • Subject: Find works about a composer, musician, musical style or genre
  • Keyword: Search by keyword to find any materials that mention a composer or performer's name in the item's description. A keyword search will give you the most results, but the results will not be as precise as an Author or Subject search.

Reference Resources

Use reference resources, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks to learn background information on your topic. Below are some "Best Bets" covering a wide ranges of resources. Note that many of these sources are multi-volume sets. Also note that some resources are available online.

Finding Videos

In the Catalog Search screen, type the names of the topics that you're interested in finding. For example, if you'd like to find a video on composer Igor Stravinsky, enter "Stravinsky, Igor" in the keyword search box, and then click search. See below for example. You can search for videos using several search types, for example, by genre, idiom, composer, musician, history, theory and geographic location.
cat music 1.jpg

From the results page, on the left side of the screen, click on the box labeled "Videos."

View your search results. Note that in the upper left corner of the screen the number of search results is displayed.
Click on the title to display the location, availability and call number.

Finding Musical Scores

Type in the name of the composer and search in the library catalog. From the results page, on the left side of the screen, click on the box labeled "Musical Score."
music scores.jpg
Click on the title to display the location, availability and call number.

Finding Sound Recordings

Type in the name of the artist, orchestra, ensemble, etc. in the library catalog and click search. From the results page, on the left side of the screen, click on the box labeled "Music."
Click on the title to display the location, availability and call number.

Emailing Resources

Email resources to yourself or instructor by clicking on the resource and then clicking on the email link towards the top of the page. Fill in the email address(es) and enter your name in the respective boxes.
email results2.jpg

Best Bets

Article/Image Databases

Use these databases to locate articles on composers, musicians, music theory, musical styles, and more. Many of these databases offer articles from both popular and scholarly, peer-reviewed journal sources. All articles found in JSTOR and Project MUSE databases are scholarly, peer-reviewed.

  • ProQuest One Academic Proquest One Academic is a large multidisciplinary collection of journals, magazines, e-books, videos, dissertations, and theses.
  • Academic Search Complete
    Academic Search Complete contains indexing and full text for 9100 journals. 7100 of these journals are peer-reviewed scholarly titles. Academic Search Complete is a great resource for general research.

  • Artstor
    The Artstor Digital Library provides over 1.6 million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with an accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research.

  • Credo Reference Search over 250 topic entries on all aspects of Music. This collection includes information from 11 reference encyclopedias and handbooks. Articles range from brief topical overviews to extensive treatments of various topics.
    JSTOR is an archive of digitized peer-reviewed journal articles published between the 1700s to between 1 and 5 years ago. Resluts can be limited to music-related articles by selecting the "Advanced Search" screen from JSTOR's front page, and then selecting "Music" from the "NARROW BY DISCIPLINE AND/OR PUBLICATION TITLE" section.

  • Oxford Music Online
    Excellent source for finding biographical information on composers and musicians. This resource also contains extensive articles on musical instruments, musical forms, timelines, index of operas, and subject guides that offer overviews of the major periods of music history, with lists of Grove articles covering important people, genres, terms, and concepts related to the period.
    This resource draws information from the following resources:

    • The Oxford Dictionary of Music
    • Grove Music Online
    • Oxford Companion to Music
    • Please note: 5 concurrent users only

  • Project MUSE
    Project MUSE offers full-text current and archival articles from 500+ scholarly journals from major university presses covering literature and criticism, history, performing arts, cultural studies, education, philosophy, political science, gender studies, and more. Updated continually. NOTE: To limit your searches to the journals available through the COD Library, check the "Only content I have full access to" box on the left side of your results page.

Music Databases

  • American Music
    American Music includes songs by and about Americans for listening and learning online. The range of genres includes country, folk, bluegrass, Western, old time, American Indian, blues, gospel, shape note singing, doo-wop, Motown, R&B, soul, funk, and others.

  • Classical Music Library
    Classical Music Library is a large collection of classical music recordings for listening and learning online. Coverage includes music written from the earliest times to the present, including many contemporary composers. Repertoire ranges from vocal and choral music, to chamber, orchestral, solo instrumental, and opera.

  • Contemporary World Music
    Contemporary World Music is a growing collection of recordings for listening and learning online. This collection contains genres such as reggae, worldbeat, neo-traditional, world fusion, Balkanic jazz, African film, Bollywood, Arab swing and jazz. CWM contains other world music genres such as traditional music: Indian classical, fado, flamenco, klezmer, zydeco, gospel, gagaku, and more.

  • Jazz Music Library
    Jazz Music Online is a large collection of jazz music by individuals and ensembles for online listening and learning. Jazz Music Online is part of the Music Online database.

  • Music & Performing Arts
    Music & Performing Arts combines audio and video that spans all time periods, hundreds of thousands of seminal artists, composers, choreographers, and ensembles to provide an unparalleled learning environment for the teaching of music.

  • Popular Music Library
    Popular Music Online contains a wide range of popular music from around the world, including hundreds of thousands of tracks from major genres in pop music, including alternative, country, Christian, electronic, hip-hop, metal, punk, new age, R&B, reggae, rock, soundtracks and many more.

  • Smithsonian Global Sound
    Smithsonian Global Sound is a large collection of the world's musical and aural traditions for listening and learning online.

Best Bets

African American Music

  • Archives of African American Music and Culture
    Provides "access to holdings which include oral histories, photographs, musical and print manuscripts, audio and video recordings, educational broadcast programs, and the personal papers of individuals and organizations concerned with black music."

  • African American Sheet Music: 1850-1920
    "The collection includes many songs from the heyday of antebellum black face minstrelsy in the 1850s and from the abolitionist movement of the same period."

  • Hip Hop Archive
  • Includes readings, visuals, listening, and short videos.

Blues / Jazz

  • All About Jazz
  • Lists of new releases, CD and book reviews, interviews and more. Not a scholarly resource.

  • The Blues
  • PBS website to accompany the Martin Scorsese series on the blues. Although you cannot view the videos on the site you can read biographies and other background information about the musicians covered in the series. There is also information on the blues in the section Blues Classroom. The Library does own the series, and you can check them out to view the entire film.

  • Now What a Time: Blues, Gospel,and the Fort Valley Music Festival, 1938-1943
  • Nearly 100 audio files of blues and gospel music.

  • Sheldon Harris Sheet Music Collection
  • University of Mississippi collection of early minstrel songs through the 1970's. The University of Mississippi has issued this disclaimer about some of the materials in the collection: " Many of the minstrel songs contained in this digital collection are extremely offensive. However, it is impossible to adequately understand American racial attitudes of the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries, without examining some blatantly racist ideas. Most of the music featured in this collection is not fringe material, but some of the most popular songs of their times." Not all the material is offensive however.

Choral / Vocal


  • Baroque Music Homepage
    Essays, information, recommended recordings and links to other web sites.

  • Beethoven Haus Digital Archives
    Contains "more than 6,100 documents on 37,600 coloured scans of high quality, 1,600 audio files (music examples, audio letters) and 7,600 text files."

  • Classical Net
    "Classical Net features more than 9000 pages and 20,000+ images including more than 7000 CD, SACD, DVD, Blu-ray, Book and Concert reviews and over 5500 links to other classical music web sites."
    Great Conversations in Music
    Four part series by noted classical musician Eugene Istomin contains videos and biographies on some of the major composers, performers, and conductors of classical music, made available through the Library of Congress.

  • Digital Bach Project
    Explore multi-media resources on Bach's music, including graphics, video and texts.

  • Hear HERE!: The Royal Philharmonic Society
    Listen to musicians and conductors talk about music. Some musical excerpts included.

  • National Gallery of Art - Music Audio and Video Podcasts
    Podcasts include interviews with composers, performers and artists, as well as performances held in conjunction with art installations at the National Gallery.

  • Neue Mozart-Ausgabe: Digitized Version
    "The purpose of this web site ... is to make Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's musical compositions widely and conveniently accessible to the public, for personal study and for educational and classroom use."

Lyrics / Scores

  • Digital Scores and Libretti
    "The scores and libretti in this Virtual Collection include first and early editions and manuscript copies of music from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by J.S. Bach and Bach family members, Mozart, Schubert and other composers, as well as multiple versions of nineteenth century opera scores, seminal works of musical modernism, and music of the Second Viennese School. "

  • First Book of English Madrigals
    Published by John Wilbye in 1598. For four, five, and six voices.

  • International Music Score Library Project
    A "virtual library containing all public domain musical scores, as well as scores from composers who are willing to share their music with the world without charge."

  • JW Pepper
    A commercial supplier of sheet music that can serve as means to locating musical scores that are currently "in print."

  • The Maine Music Box
    This collection contains musical scores, midi files, and musical score cover art. Vocal popular music as well violin and piano scores are included.

  • Sheet Music Collection
    Digital Sheet Music Project from the University of South Carolina Music Library. Provides access to over 10,000 pieces of classical, popular, and sacred music from the 19th and early 20th centuries. For items in the public domain the actual document has been scanned.

  • Sheet Music Consortium
    Searches across multiple collections of sheet music. Some access is restricted, but much is available. Creating a login lets you save your selections as a virtual collection.

  • SheetMusicPlus
    A commercial supplier of sheet music that can serve as means to locating musical scores that are currently "in print."

  • Sibley Music Library Music Score Collection
    Contains over 10,00 digitized pieces of music - most works are in the public domain.


Musical Instruments


  • Ballad Operas Online
    Ballad operas were performed on the British stage between 1728 to 1760. They combined a comic or sentimental play with musical numbers. Publication and production information may be found here along with some audio samples.

  • The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive
    Archive includes a variety of G&S related items, including clip art, librettos, plot summaries, pictures of the original G&S stars, song scores, midi and mpeg audio files, and newsletter articles.

  • The Metropolitan Opera
    Offers a history of the Met, brief audio segments of famous performances, and brief summaries of operas.

  • OperaGlass
    Synopsis, full or part libretto, performance history and other information is provided.

  • World of Opera
    World of Opera with host Lisa Simeone brings listeners compelling performances from top American and international opera companies. World of Opera encompasses the seminal operas of the 17th century; the comic, political and social satires of the 18th century; the "bel canto" masterpieces of Gaetano Donizetti and Vincenzo Bellini; the revolutionary 19th-century works of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner; and, of course, operas in the "true-to-life" verismo style of Puccini and Mascagni. Also of interest is "10 Operas you Need to Know," which offers brief overviews of important "recent" operas. Also see the World of Opera archive.


Popular Music

World, Ethnic, Folk

  • Africa Focus, Sights and Sounds of a Continent
    "This collection contains more than 3000 slides, 500 photographs, 50 hours of sounds from forty-five different countries, as well as a large number of difficult to find texts that librarians, scholars, and other subject specialists have deemed important to these fields of study."

  • Global Music Archive
    "The Global Music Archive is a multi-media reference archive and resource center for traditional and popular song, music, and dance of Africa and the Americas."

  • Smithsonian Folkways
    Users can search the entire collection of Smithsonian Folkways recordings and download liner notes. The actual music is available through Music Online. You will need a library card to access the music. In addition to the recordings, Smithsonian Folkways has a selection of podcasts and short videos, as well as radio streams.

  • World and Traditional Music
    Several genres of music are represented:old-time music; country and bluegrass; folk revival; rhythm, blues, and boogie; African-American, and an eclectic mix.