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Music Reference Resources

Academic Databases

These databases cover a wide range of territory, so you may need to refine your search to focus on music subjects. They will be useful for constructing an argument about what scholars have to say about a particular topic. 

Comparing Scholarly and Popular Sources

Scholarly-journal articles are are the foundation of academic papers.
In the academic world, people create arguments by referring and citing previous academic works, especially articles that appear in academic journals. In addition, scholars will also write full-length academic books, which are often called monographs. In your assignments, these will typically be the highest-quality sources to use. They represent a particular academic's viewpoint, and they follow academic conventions. 

Popular publications still have value! 

However, that doesn't mean that non-academic sources are worthless. Particularly in a subject like music, it will take several years before academics are able to publish material about material that was released today. Additionally, popular sources can contain valuable information about how music was perceived at the time it was released. If you wanted to argue that people didn't appreciate a particular artist, it would be perfectly acceptable to cite a negative review in Rolling Stone. Popular sources can also be extremely helpful for finding quotes directly from an artist, especially in interviews or other features. 

Characteristics of Popular Publications:

  • Contain general information that appeals to a wide audience
  • Written by journalists or others who are not professionals in that field
  • Use easily understood language
  • Usually do NOT include citations or a bibliography
  • Limited or non-existent editorial review
  • May contain glossy photographs.
New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, Variety, AV Club, Spin, Vulture, etc. 

Characteristics of Scholarly Publications:

  • Report on primary research
  • Written by experts in the field
  • Written for other researchers/scholars
  • Use terms and language that are discipline-specific
  • Usually include in-text citations and a bibliography of cited sources
  • May include graphs, charts, etc. related to the topic
  • Often are peer reviewed by an editorial board of experts
  • Published by a professional organization or society, university, research center, or scholarly press.
Cambridge Opera Journal, Journal of Musicology, American Music, Music and Letters, Musical Quarterly.