Types of sources

You’ve been given a writing assignment on music and now must find sources for your essay/paper. First you need to decide what you need.

  • Identify the nature of the assignment. Are you researching a topic (i.e., the biography of a composer, the history of a specific genre or of a musical phenomenon, etc.)? Are you analyzing and discussing a piece of music? Writing a concert review? The nature of the assignment will affect the resources you need. Be clear about what the assignment is before locating resources. (For more discussion, see Understanding the Assignment.)
  • What resources are needed? Do you need a score, recording, books on a specific composer or topic, or articles? Do you want all of the available books and articles on a given topic, or do you need resources on a specific topic? What search terms will you use to find resources? These are all important questions to ask before starting your research. Once you have a clear idea of what you need, you can begin finding resources.
    • Analyzing and discussing a piece of music requires listening to the piece with the score. (For help finding scores and recordings in the Queens College Music Library, see Finding Books, Scores, and Recordings in CUNY+.)
    • You will need more resources for research papers. First, identify the kinds of information you need to find and think about what kinds of resources will have this information. Recommended first steps include:
      • Look up the term, person, place, etc. in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which can be found in the Music Library Reference section under Ref ML 100 N48 2001 (also available online).
      • Find books on your topic. (For help finding books in the Queens College Music Library, see Finding Books, Scores, and Recordings in CUNY+.)
      • For some topics, articles in scholarly journals on music may be the best resource. Use one of the Music databases to locate articles related to your topic (see Finding Resources on Music.)
    • Your professor may have put materials (books, scores, articles, recordings, etc.) for the assignment on reserve in the Music Library. In the Music Library, all reserve materials are kept at the Circulation Desk. Ask the staff member at the Circulation Desk for the materials, which only circulate for two hours.

Resources located at the Music Library

The following links will walk you through how to find various types of resources that can be found at the Queens College Music Library.

  • Books, Scores, and Recordings - How to efficiently find books, scores, or recordings in the Queens College libraries by using the online catalog CUNY+.
  • Articles on Music - Queens College subscribes to thousands of journals. Some are in print and some are available online. This section directs you to music-specific databases that contain citations and, in some cases, the full text of articles on music. All of these databases are appropriate for course assignments and research projects. To explore databases in other subjects, see the “Databases by Subject” list on the “Databases” menu of the Music Library homepage.
  • Non-QC Resources - Other CUNY libraries or libraries outside of the CUNY system may have resources you need. This page will show you how to locate these materials and how to have them sent to Queens College for your use.
  • Reference Sources - The Queens College Music Library has an extensive reference collection. The most important sources are the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (also available online via Grove Online), the Harvard Dictionary of Music, and Baker’s Biographical Dictionary. These are all excellent starting points for your research. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians includes helpful lists of sources at the end of each entry. We also hold complete scholarly editions of major composers’ works in the reference section (see Heyer’s Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music: A Guide to Their Contents to locate individual pieces within these editions.)

Online Resources

Many of the Music Library's resources are found online. See Databases and Online Resources to learn about these resources.

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