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Music Just the Basics: Basic Music Reference Sources

Fall 2019

Quick Links to Online Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, & eBooks

Beyond Grove's and Taruskin

Brief but informative biographies can be found in:

For music terminology, styles and forms, and descriptions of instruments, see the one-volume work:

Search InfoKat Discovery

Start with a Good Encyclopedia

A great place to begin any music search is to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Grove's should be your first stop. Articles cover all aspects of music, musicians, composers, historical periods, and so on. Each composer's biography includes a worklist and a bibliography. Be sure to check the bibliography--it can lead you to some new sources.

The online edition of Grove's also contains The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, and The New Grove Dictionary of American Music.

A print copy of Grove's can be found in the reference section at               

REF ML100.N48 2000

Grove's is part of the Oxford Reference collection. Additional titles include: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and the Oxford Companion to Music.

If you want to search all the sources at once, just type your term(s) in the "Search" box, or you can choose to search only "Grove's" by clicking the box labeled "Search Only Grove Music Online."

Oxford History of Western Music

Richard Taruskin's Oxford History of Western Music is also an excellent source to check.

Online: Oxford History of Western Music

In Reference: REF ML160.T18 2005

In the stacks (you can check these out): ML160.T18 2010


RIPM: Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals (full text)

RIPM: Jazz Periodicals

RILM Music Encyclopedias

HathiTrust has activated its Emergency Temporary Access Services, allowing University of Kentucky students, faculty and staff to access digitized copies of copyrighted material currently held in UK’s print collection. This service provides immediate online access to approximately 40% of UK Libraries’ physical collections. You will see a link to HathiTrust in any items that are available on the record in InfoKat.
To get access, you’ll need to log in as a UK user.

  •          Go to
  •          Click on the yellow button on the upper-right-hand corner of the screen labeled “LOG IN”
  •          In the scroll down menu, find the University of Kentucky and click on it

UKL’s Electronic Resources unit maintains a blog that gives information about updated access to online resources