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Music 105: Music in the United States

Research Process


  • Make sure the topic meets the requirements of the paper assignment. Note the following:
    • Scope of paper focused
    • Format - double spaced, font size no larger than 12; may be a multi-media project
    • Length - 5-7 pages
    • Number and Types of Sources - 5-7 authored sources, general, popular online sources are usually not acceptable
    • Citation Style -your choice
  • Choose a topic that interests you.
    • Composer, performer, musical group, critic, musical entrepreneur
    • composition
    • historical moment
    • musical tradition
    • controversial topic

Start with Subject Encyclopedias

Subject encyclopedias are good starting points for your paper. They can be used in the following ways:

  • Provide a broad overview of a topic that is more in-depth than in general encyclopedias
  • Discuss how scholars have approached, explored, and debated the topic over time
  • Identify words, phrases, names, dates, and events that can be used as keywords when searching a database
  • List bibliographies in articles to find other sources (both primary and secondary)
  • Provide cross-references to find related topics

Other starting points:

  • Textbooks, music surveys
  • Surveys, Textbooks, edited books or anthologies  can provide a broad viewpoint.
  • Articles, typically found through subject or multidisciplinary databases, can be helpful in understanding the scholarly conversation about the topic.


Oxford Music Online

A great first step in the research process. Includes Grove Music Online, The Oxford Companion to Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Note: Limit of 3 simultaneous users.

More Subject Encyclopedias