Skip to Main Content

Music 105: Music in the United States

Database Search Tips

When search databases, keep these techniques in mind.

Start simple, using a phrase or a few words. Then narrow your search if you have too many results.

bebop and "African American" and style

Quotation marks search for an exact phrase.

   "protest songs" finds results with that exact phrase.

Add more words when terms may be ambiguous or you want to narrow your search.

rent and musical

Use OR to find related terms.

Indigenous or folk

Use an asterisk * to find variant word endings. Be careful not to shorten your word too much, because this can bring back results that are not relevant.

music* finds music, musical, musicality, musicians, etc.


Example of Search Techniques:


Too Many Results? Narrow your search.

  • Use subject databases.
  • Add limiters.
  • Add more terms to your search.
  • Use more specific search terms.
  • Narrow the scope of your topic as it may be too broad.

Too Few Results? Broaden your search.

  • Try different databases.
  • Add synonyms or related terms.
  • If you have used limiters, remove them.
  • Use fewer terms.
  • Your topic may be too narrow. Think of broader concepts related to your topic.

Subject Databases: Humanities & Performing Arts

General Databases

Subject Databases: Social Sciences

Try These Databases for Historical Publications