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Research Guides

HMU111: Introduction to Music and Society

This is a research guide for the course HMU111: Introduction to Music and Society

How to Research

Looking for academic materials to write essays is quite a bit different than doing a Google search. While there is technically no "right" or "wrong" way to start, the quality of your search results will improve significantly by following these few, simple steps.

  1. Pre-research: Give some thought to your topic and decide what areas you need to read up on in order to have an informed opinion for your paper. (Do this before you start researching.) Googling and Wikipedia can be helpful starting places for a quick survey or overview on some ideas related to your topic.
  2. Encyclopedia entries are particularly good at providing a thorough overview and background of your topic (or aspects related to it). Grove Music Online (available through Oxford Music Online) and the Garland World Music are highly recommended for this purpose. The articles are written by experts and you can cite them for your paper.


  • Contains articles on almost every aspect of western music history, with extensive entries on composers, genres, places, and subjects. 

Oxford Bibliographies Online

  • This source includes brief entries on various people, places, genres, and other subjects similar to Grove Music, BUT also includes curated and up-to-date bibliographies with annotations to help you choose the most helpful materials for your area of study.

The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music

  • The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, devoted to music research of all the world's peoples, contains more than 9000 pages of material and 300 audio recordings. Hundreds of articles allow you research music on every continent. In addition to articles and recordings, this source also contains musical illustrations, photographs, drawings, song texts, score examples, and charts and maps of world regions.


The library has handbooks on music from all over the world:

Olsen, Dale A., and Daniel Sheehy, eds. The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music. New York: Routledge, 2015. [Available online].

Stone, Ruth M., ed. The Garland Handbook of African Music. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008. [Available online.]

The reference section contains research guides for different composers, musical genres, and areas of study. Research guides are a great place to start because they will provide an overview of the topic and point you in the direction of the most important publications on a particular topic. Examples: 

Beisswenger, Drew. North American Fiddle Music: A Research and Information Guide. New York: Routledge, 2011. Call Number: ML128 .V4 B45 2011. [Available online]

Gray, John. Baila!: A Bibliographic Guide to Afro-Latin Dance Musics from Mambo to Salsa. Nyack, N.Y.: African Diaspora Press, 2013. Call Number: ML128 .D3 G73 2013.

Meadows, Eddie S. Blues, Funk, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Hip Hop, and Rap: A Research and Information Guide. New York: Routledge, 2010. [Available online]

Post, Jennifer C. Ethnomusicology: A Research and Information Guide2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Call Number: ML128 .E8 P67 2011. [Available online]

The reference section also contains guides for researching and writing about music more generally. Examples:

Gottlieb, Jane. Music Library and Research Skills. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Call Number: ML3797 .G68 2016. 

Holoman, Kern. Writing about Music: A Style Sheet. 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Call Number:  ML3797 .W75 2008. 

Wingell, Richard J. Writing about Music: An Introductory Guide. 4th ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2009. Call Number: ML3797 .W54 2009. 

Finally, the library has books on the major themes of the course:

Butterton, Mary. Music and Meaning: Opening Minds in the Caring and Healing Professions. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press, 2004. Call Number: ML3920 .B88 2004.

Fischlin, Daniel, and Ajay Heble, eds. Rebel Musics: Human Rights, Resistant Sounds, and the Politics of Music Making. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2003. Call Number: ML3916 .F57 2003.

Horsfall, Sara Towe, Jan-Martijn Meij, and Meghan D. Probstfield, eds. Music Sociology: Examining the Role of Music in Social Life. Boulder, C.O.: Paradigm Publishers, 2013. [Available resource]

Journal articles

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is a comprehensive international bibliography of writings on music covering publications from the early 19th century to the present. Search RILM for journal articles on your topic. RILM will provide you with an abstract of each article so you gage how useful it will be to you and a "Get it! UTL" button that will lead you to the article. 


JSTOR is a digital library that provides access to more than 10 million academic journal articles, books, and primary sources in 75 disciplines, including music! If you find an article in RILM that you would like to read, search for the article in JSTOR which will provide you with the full text article downloadable as a PDF.

Search Tips

SEARCHING HACK: When looking for journal articles, search for your topic using key words based on your area of focus. Take advantage of the different search boxes in the Advanced Search menus to maximize your results. 


***Note that the "*" in the first search is a wildcard and finds results with "China", "Chinese", "Chinois", etc. The "*" wildcard works in many major databases.

How to Cite: MLA

University of Toronto Libraries: Citation Styles

University of Toronto Libraries provides a helpful orientation for citing in all styles including MLA. Follow the links under MLA for thorough guides to citing in MLA.


How to Cite in Chicago Style

The predominant guide for citing your sources in musicology is the Chicago Manual of Style. The 17th edition is available as of Sep. 1, 2017. 

The CMoS can be a challenge to use if you're not familiar with it, so the library created a citation guide with music specific examples throughout. It includes examples of footnotes/endnotes and bibliographic entries, along with links to the CMoS if you'd prefer to read the rules in their entirety. It also includes samples with helpful descriptors identifying the various elements needed for citations, as with the illustrations below:


Example of a footnote:

Example of a footnote

Example of a bibliographic entry: