Choosing a topic
When choosing a topic for your research paper, think about the following:
- Unless your instructor assigns a topic, try to select a topic that interests you.
- Make sure your topic is not too broad, or too narrow. You will find too much information when searching for a broad topic; and not enough information when searching for a narrow topic.
- If you already have a general topic, try searching the library's catalog or the library's databases for ideas on how to narrow that topic down.
- Visit the library's Reference Desk and request to view the following book: 10,000 ideas for term papers, projects, reports and speeches: Intriguing, original research topics for every student's need.
- For current events and issues in the news, try searching the library's database: CQ Researcher.
- For debatable or controversial issues, ask one of the librarians about the Opposing Viewpoints Series, the Taking Sides Series, Issues in Focus Series and/or the Current Controversies Series.
- Visit the Social Issues Research Guide. There you will find a list of current social issues to choose from.
Books will provide an excellent starting point for your research in the field of Music. Reference books often give you background information and a general overview on your topic so that you can proceed with greater understanding to a more detailed treatment of your subject in other books and periodicals. Reference books may include specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, almanacs, atlases and/or statistical reports. The librarian at the Reference Desk can help in locating an appropriate source. Listed below are the titles and call numbers of some of the Music books in the library's reference collection. The reference collection is located on the main level of the library. Books with a location of Reference cannot be checked out of the library. The Circulating Collection is on the second floor of the library. Books with a location of Circulating may be checked out.
To search the Catalog for a book, click on it's callnumber below.
|Baker's Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musici...||Reference||ML105.S612 1997|
|Baker's Dictionary of Opera||Reference||ML102.O6 B26 2000|
|Baker's Student Encyclopedia of Music (3 volumes)||Reference||ML100.B26 1999|
|Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra||Reference||ML1200.C25 2003|
|Early Broadway Sheet Music||Reference||ML128.M78 S79|
|Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues||Reference||ML102.J3 S5 2001|
|Excellence in Singing: Multilevel Learning and Multilevel Teachi...||Reference||MT825.C35 2001|
|Green Book of Songs by Subject||Reference||ML156.4.P6 G73 2002|
|Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (6 volumes)||Reference||ML102.P66 G84|
|Harvard Dictionary of Music||Reference||ML100.A64 2003|
|Heritage of Music (4 volumes)||Reference||ML160.H527 1990|
|International Dictionary of Black Composers (2 volumes)||Reference||ML105.I5 1999|
|New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians (29 volumes)||Reference||ML100.N48 2001|
|Recording Industry Sourcebook||Reference||ML18.R4 2002|
|Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock-n-Roll||Reference||ML102.R6 R64 2001|
The library catalog is used to locate books both at RVCC, as well as from other libraries in the Somerset County Library System. Books will provide in-depth information not found in reference sources.
- Start with a Keyword search. Once you find one or two books about your topic, check the book's record to see what Subjects are being used. Once you find the appropriate Subject Heading, repeat your search using those headings. Generally, the results from a Subject search will always be more accurate than the results from a Keyword search.
- If you know the title of the book you are looking for, do a Title search.
- If you are looking for a book with a specific author, do an Author search (last name first).
Suggested Subject Headings for Music:
Click a subject heading below to use it as the search term for a Subject Search in the catalog.
- Blues musicians -- Biography
- Jazz musicians -- Biography
- Music -- History and criticism
- Music -- Performance
- Music and Literature
- Music and Technolog
- Music theory
- Musical instruments
- Orchestral music
- Popular music
Consult with the reference librarian to find the term best suited to your needs.
Browse the Collection:
Most of the books can be found in the following areas:
- ML -- Literature on music
- ML159 - 3785 -- History and criticism
- ML3795 -- Music as a profession
- MT -- Musical instruction and study
- MT170 - 810 -- Instrumental techniques
- MT820 - 915 -- Singing and vocal technique
All of the library's circulating books are located on the upper level of the library.
For additional library catalogs, including libraries in Hunterdon and Middlesex counties, consult the Additional Library Catalogs page. If you find a book in one of these catalogs that the library does not own, request the book using the library's Interlibrary Loan Service.
Research Databases - Finding Articles
The Evelyn S. Field Library has access to thousands of periodicals. (Periodicals can be magazines, scholarly journals, or newspapers.) Some periodicals are in the library's print (or hard copy) collection. However, the majority of periodicals are available in the Research Databases. These databases provide access to articles. This information is generally more current than material found in books.
Search for periodical articles on Music using the databases listed below. They can be accessed from the Library Database Page. (If you are using these databases from an off-campus location, you will be asked to identify yourself by logging in with your Username and Password. This is the same login you use on campus. The Research Databases are available only to registered RVCC students.)
A reliable and comprehensive archive of important scholarly journal literature. JSTOR is important if you are doing a research project that needs older information in the arts and sciences. Due to its very nature as a retrospective journal archive, JSTOR does not contain current journal articles. The JSTOR database is unique because the complete back files of core scholarly journals have been digitized, starting with the very first issues, many of which date from the 1800's. Over 4 million pages are available.
After finding an article on your research topic, the database will either provide a citation and summary of the article, or it will provide the full-text (the complete article). If you are only given a citation and summary of the article, you can check the Periodical Locator to determine if the periodical you are looking for is available in another database. (The Periodical Locator is an alphabetical list of all the journals the library has access to. Feel free to talk with a librarian for assistance.) If the article is not available in any of the library's research databases, request the article using the library's Interlibrary Loan Service.
If, for your assignment, you are required to have sources from scholarly journals, use the Identifying Scholarly Articles guide to help you determine if your source is a magazine article or a scholarly article.
- "Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943
Source: Library of Congress, American Memory Project -- "Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943 consists of approximately one hundred sound recordings, primarily blues and gospel songs, and related documentation from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia. The documentation was created by John Wesley Work III in 1941 and by Lewis Jones and Willis Laurence James in March, June, and July 1943. Also included are recordings made in Tennessee and Alabama (including six Sacred Harp songs) by John Work between September 1938 and 1941. These recording projects were supported by the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center). Song lists made by the collectors, correspondence with the Archive about the trips, and a special issue of the Fort Valley State College student newsletter, The Peachite: Festival Number, are also included. One interesting feature of this collection is the topical rewording of several standard gospel songs to address the wartime concerns of the performers.
- Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics
Source: Department of Music, Stanford University -- The Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics is affiliated with the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities at Stanford which conducts research on constructing computer databases for music and on creating programs that allow researchers to access, analyze, print, and electronically perform the music.
- Classical Net
Source: Dave Lampson -- Features reviews of more than 2,500 CDs, as well as 5,800 files and over 4,000 links to a wide array of classical music sites. A composer search is available.
- Global Jukebox
Source: Association for Cultural Equity -- Thousands of hours of international field recordings housed in the Alan Lomax Archive will now reach audiences through Global Jukebox, the Archive's first independent music imprint. Global Jukebox will produce LPs, CDs and digital albums in partnership with other folkloric institutions, record labels, university presses, along with the global reach of the digital distributor IODA. These releases will engage and inspire audiences around the world with the ever-vital work that Alan Lomax documented, and help fulfill Lomax's mission of "cultural equity," the right of every culture to express and develop its distinctive heritage of songs, dances and stories.
- Harmony Central
Source: Harmony Central, Inc. -- An Internet Resource for musicians. Includes links to departments for guitar, bass, MIDI, keyboards, drums, and percussion, computers and music.
- Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920
Source: Library of Congress, American Memory Prpject -- Sheet music is accessed by browsing subject or name indexes or by keyword. Images of the cover and the sheet music are available.
- Instrument Encyclopedia
Source: University of Michigan -- Information on 2,500 historical and contemporary musical instruments from all over the world. It is a combination of text, images and selected sounds. Search by class of instrument or geographic region.
- Internet Resources for Music Scholars
Source: Loeb Music Library, Harvard University -- Provides links to music databases, online music journals, scholarly societies, music departments and libraries, publishers.
- Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection
Source: Milton S. Eisenhower Library at John Hopkins University -- 29,000 pieces of American sheet music published between 1780 -1980. Includes songs about presidents, military conflicts, etc. Music printed before 1923 (in the public domain) may be retrieved and downloaded. The sire provides an index to the entire collection.
Source: Lyrics N Music -- A lyric and music search engine for music people by music people. The lyric page has Lyrics, YouTube, Wiki, Images/Artwork, iTunes/Amazon MP3, Guitar Tabs and Concert dates on a single page.
- Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music
Source: Library of Congress, American Memory Project -- Contains more than 62,500 pieces of historical sheet music registered for copyright between 1820 - 1885. Included are popular songs, operatic arias, piano music, sacred and secular choral music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and music for band and orchestra.
- Music History 102
Source: Internet Public Library -- A guide to Western composers and their music from the Middle Ages to the present.
- National Sound Archive
Source: British Library -- Catalog includes entries for almost two-and-a-half million recordings held in the British Library National Sound Archive (NSA) and is updated daily. It is one of the largest catalogs of its kind, covering both published and unpublished recordings in all genres from pop, jazz, classical and world music, to oral history, drama and literature, dialect, language and wildlife sounds.
- Performing Arts in America, 1875-1923
Source: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts -- A searchable database of 16,000 objects representing archival materials, including newspaper clippings, promotional and production photographs, sheet music, publicity posters, lobby cards, moving images, and recorded sound.
- Public Domain Music
Source: Haven Sound, Inc. -- Lists music that is old enough to be in the public domain, meaning that it can be performed without the payment of royalties.
- Sibley Music Library, Musical Scores
Source: University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music -- Scores and books in the public domain. Many of these are unique to the Sibley Music Library collection.
- The Roderic C. Knight Musical Instrument Collection
Source: Oberlin College -- World musical instrument collection of over 200 different instruments. The collection also serves to demonstrate the Knight System for Instrument Classification.
- Worldwide Internet Music Resources
Source: William and Gayle Cook Music Library, Indiana University School of Music -- Links to musicians, composers, musical genres, journals and magazines.
- Call or visit the Reference Desk to speak to one of the librarians. The Reference Desk is located on the main floor of the library. The phone number is 908-526-1200 x8350.
- Email your question to one of the librarians using the Ask-A-Librarian Service.
- For further information about this guide, please contact Alyssa Valenti
Last Updated - 01 December 2007