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Research, Resources, & Activities


The Library has a broad collection of music resources including:

  • Print music anthologies
  • Lyrics collections
  • Technique books for learning instruments
  • Encyclopedias, histories and biographies
  • A.P. and other music theory guides
  • Career guides
  • Music Theater selections, and scripts.
Search the catalog by subject, title, author, performer/group.

Swedish artist and singer Jonna Jinton: "Kulning"

Music History & Biography

Humankind has a long history of making music, for comfort, work, worship, and entertainment. Most of what we now call "classical" music was once popular--whistle on the street popular--music. Someday in the not too distant future, "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and "Uptown Funk," to name just a few, will be considered classical. After all, what is classic except something that stands the test of time?

Search the Library Catalog for "music biographies" for books about musicians' lives.
Search "music history" to view history books on music of all eras and genres.

Music History Books to Check Out

Finding Recordings

The Library has a wide selection of CD's and many DVD's of musical performances.
Search the Library Catalog by album title, artist, or song title, and limit results to CD in the left sidebar.


Popular (or Pop) -- Music composed in the 20th century or later for general entertainment.  Folk, Jazz, Broadway, Rock'n'Roll, etc.

Classical -- In western music history, any music from 1600 to about 1900 C.E. composed for worship, as art, and almost all entertainment.  Early Music is a designation for any music composed before 1600 C.E.

Notes -- the names of musical pitches (tones), notation is how music is written down.

Key -- a scale.  In C major, the musical scale notes are:  C, D, E, F, G, A, B; also expressed in Solfège as, "Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do." There are 24 scales, (12 each major and minor,) in the traditional western music system.

Lyrics -- words or poetry that are set to music.

Chords -- two or more notes sounded at the same time.

Sheet Music -- music notated on paper (including e-paper.)  A Score is a complete musical work in a sheet music book; Anthologies are collections of sheet music in a book;  Selections indicates a "greatest hit" group of songs from a score or a performer's work.

Lead Sheet -- consists of just the melody and lyrics notated, with chord names/tablature to indicate harmony.

Tablature -- is a method of notating harmony by showing the fingerings on an instrument, such as guitar.

Arrangement -- A piece of music in which various melodies and harmonies are assigned to different instruments or instrument groups.  Orchestration is an arrangement for an orchestra, and Chart usually describes an arrangement for a small jazz or rock group.

Conductor -- A person who leads a group performance by gesturing the beats, tempo, and dynamics.

Opera -- A play told entirely through music, in which characters sing all dialogue; an Operetta or Light Opera is one in which some of the action is spoken; and a Broadway Musical is descended from the operetta as the form matured into a musical play in the 1900's.

Genre Examples

Early -- Gregorian Chant (ex. "Dies irae"); songs from Shakespeare's plays and madrigals (ex. "April Is in My Mistress' Face", "Greensleeves")

Classical -- Beethoven's 5th Symphony; Handel's MESSIAH; "Hoedown" from RODEO (ballet); CARMEN (opera)

Country -- "Achy, Breaky Heart," "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Coat of Many Colors"

Folk -- "A Londonderry Air" (Danny Boy), "Blowin' In the Wind"

Spirituals -- "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "Deep River," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"

Blues -- "Memphis Blues," "Sweet Home Chicago," "My Mamma Don't Allow"

Ragtime -- "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin (pianola roll)

Jazz -- "God Bless the Child," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Black Coffee," "Take the 'A' Train," "Minnie the Moocher," "I Got Rhythm," "Take Five"

Broadway Musical or Music Theater -- West Side Story

Rock -- "Johnny B. Goode," "Blue Suede Shoes," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Stairway to Heaven," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Purple Rain," "Bad Romance" . . . .

Funk -- Uptown Funk

Hip-Hop / Rap -- "Lose Yourself," "Alexander Hamilton"

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