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Subject guide for music

Where can we find guides to research?

Great question! These are a great way to let somebody else do some work for you.

I'd recommend searching in the library using the terms "guide to research" - with the quotation marks. And then add whatever term you want, like a composer's name. 

For example, here's a search I did, using music "guide to research." You can see some of the results below:

Where can we find resources for citing sources within the text (parenthetical citations, etc.)?

I recommend checking out our research guide "Citing Sources." It has information about a number of different styles, and links to online help like the Purdue OWL (online writing lab).

For example, here's a great page from Purdue OWL called "MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics." And check out this accompanying video:



How do we refine our searches for books, when there are huge sections of books on a specific person or topic?

Add or refine keywords to limit a search. The more keywords you use, and the more specific they are, the more precise your search results will be. 

For example, if I enter 18th century music I get 202,245 results. But if I add another keyword and search 18th century Turkish music the number of results goes down to 10,802.

Finally, I'll add one more keyword - janissary, an related term for Turkish music - and bring my results down to 306, including one article I really want to read:

Are there any other official music librarians?

No, you're stuck with me :)

Seriously, though, music is a fascinating - and complex - topic for librarians, requiring a background in music and specialized training. Check out the "What is a Music Librarian?" page from the Music Library Association for more information. 

How would I go about finding synonyms for title nouns such as “Requiem Mass?”

Great question! I'd recommend brainstorming first, then doing a little reading to see what else comes up. Remember, they can be synonyms, related terms, keywords, etc.

Here are the associations I have when brainstorming, although yours may be very different (I'm listing these horizontally just to save some space):

Requiem Mass Or Dies Irae Or Death Or Liturgy Or Catholic

And after reading Wikipedia, I would add:

Requiem Mass Or Missa pro defunctis Or Roman missal Or Introit

Is there a more specific way to search for something like the Heiligenstadt Testament in relation to Beethoven?

Sure! You could type "Beethoven Heiligenstadt" into OneSearch. Doing this will get you 1,920 results, and lots of options for good information.

I encourage you, though, to think about searching in terms of concentric circles: sometimes you want to narrow in on a more focused search, sometimes you want to expand your focus. This will give you the most useful information. For example, for Beethoven and Heilenstadt, you could think in terms of these different levels of focus:


What is the best way to refine your topic?

I'm a big fan of concept mapping when beginning research, it's a great way to narrow your topic. Here's a good video about it:

The limiting phrases and symbols to narrow down search results within a search box

The two I normally use right in the search box are quotation marks, to search things as a phrase, e.g. "Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre," and an asterisk to search for different variations of a word, i.e. librar* searches library, libraries, librarian, librarianist (just kidding about that last one).

Here's a good video about using "and" and "or" when finding stuff:

What are the most efficient ways to get sources?

I think the most efficient way is to get the big picture: identify your research statement ("I want to find information about..."), then use it to identify your focus areas and keywords. If you need to, it's ok to do a little reading on the web to help you think about keywords and related terms. Then, mix and match the focus areas and keywords in OneSearch, the library search engine, and Oxford Music Online (remember the bibliography) to start finding scholarly sources. Also, consider looking in WorldCat: this is like OneSearch here at WCU, but for hundreds of libraries across the country. WorldCat will really show you what's out there, and whether we have it here at WCU, or not (if not, interlibrary loan is a great option).

Last thing: consider taking notes on the process - what you find, how you found it, interesting results and new keywords and synonyms. This can help keep you focused on finding new information sources. Check out this webpage called "Why (and how) should I keep a research journal" for more.