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Music Resources: Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Greer Music Library (located on the lower level of Cummings Arts Center) serves the research, information and performance needs of the Department of Music and the entire college community. Visitors are welcome!

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

The Greer Music Library contains an extensive reference book collection.  Although some of the titles are available in digital format now, many are available only in the print version and still serve as important research tools.

This list is NOT complete.  Instead, it highlights a few of the more important sources, and once you find your way to the call number areas for each title, you will find more books simply by browsing through the reference collection.

THE NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF MUSIC AND MUSICIANS
2nd edition. Edited by Stanley Sadie – 2001 – 29 vols.
REF ML 100 N48 2001
THE NEW GROVE 2nd edition is one of the single most important books in the library.  Get to know it well.  Read the introduction (v.1, pp. vii-ix) and browse through random volumes to get an idea of its scope.  This resource is often the best place to begin your research on a topic.
This resource is also available online as Grove Music Online, and is updated periodically with graphics, sound clips, additional articles, and corrections.  Access is through the link to "Databases" found on the Information Services library home page or from a link in this guide (see "Music Databases" tab). Additional GROVE reference titles have been integrated into the on-line database, such as Grove Opera and Grove Jazz.

HARVARD DICTIONARY OF MUSIC
Edited by Don Michael Randel – 4th edition - 2003
REF ML 100 H37 2003

BAKER’S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF MUSICIANS
8th edition – Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky – 1991
REF ML 105 B16 1991
Baker’s and New Harvard complement one another.  Harvard covers only terms, the Baker’s only people.  Each is probably the best place to go first for a brief introduction to a topic or a person. By the way, read Slonimsky’s preface in Baker’s!

 

A SAMPLING OF OTHER GENERAL MUSIC REFERENCE TITLES YOU MIGHT FIND HELPFUL:

THE INTERNATIONAL CYCLOPEDIA OF MUSIC AND MUSICIANS
Editor-in-chief, Oscar Thompson – 11th edition, ed. by Bruce Bohle – 1985
REF ML 100 T47 1985
Know as Thompson, this is the largest one-volume music encyclopedia in English.  Less scholarly than the NEW GROVE 2, it is very readable.

THE NEW OXFORD COMPANION TO MUSIC
Edited by Denis Arnold – 1983
REF ML 100 S37 v.1-2
This is a dictionary of music oriented toward the general reader.

THE NEW COLLEGE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MUSIC
J.A. Westrup, F. Ll. Harrison – 1960
REF ML 100 W48
This is one of the few sources that include pronunciations.

 

A SAMPLING OF SUBJECT-SPECIFIC MUSIC REFERENCE SOURCES:

NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN MUSIC
Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie – 1986 – 4 vols.
REF ML 101 U6 N48 1986
Usually called Amerigrove, parts of this dictionary were first published in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980).  The articles have been updated, and new ones added, resulting in a new mini-encyclopedia.  The articles are also being added over time to Grove Music Online (along with the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments).

The next two titles are also offshoots of the 1980 NEW GROVE.  Others not listed here can be found in the reference collection.  These have been, or are being incorporated into Grove Music Online.

NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Edited by Stanley Sadie – 1984 – 3 vols.
REF ML 102 I5 N48 1984

NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF JAZZ
2nd edition ; Edited by Barry Kernfeld – 2002 – 3 vols.
REF ML 102 J3 N48 2002
This source is also now integrated into the Grove Music Online.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF POPULAR MUSIC
Compiled & edited by Colin Larkin. 3rd ed. – 1998 – 8 vols.
REF ML 102 P66 G84 1998

The 4th edition is available online from the music databases list.

THE GARLAND ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD MUSIC
Bruno Nettl, Ruth M. Stone, advisory editors – 1998-2002
REF ML 100 G16 1998 ; CD 2565 (+ volume #)
This important source consists of 10 volumes.  Each covers a different area of world music, and is edited by scholars with expertise in the field.  Each volume has an accompanying compact disc of musical examples.

This source is now available online via the music databases link mentioned above.

BAKER’S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF TWENTIETH-CENTURY CLASSICAL MUSICIANS
Nicolas Slonimsky ; edited by Laura Kuhn – 1997
REF ML 105 S612 1997
The revered Baker’s eighth edition will probably be the last in that format.  Due to size considerations, editors plan to bring forth topic-specific volumes, and this is the first.  Kuhn’s preface is a great tribute to Slonimsky, who died in 1995.

INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WOMEN COMPOSERS
Edited by Aaron I. Cohen – 1987 – 2 vols.
REF ML 105 C7 1987
This source includes brief biographies with lists of works; photographs; bibliographies; and much, much more (for example, see the section on composers influenced by Shakespeare!)

HERITAGE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BAND MUSIC
William H. Rehrig – 1991 – 2 vols.
REF ML 128 B23 R44 1991
Brief biographies with complete (for band) works lists for each composer.  The appendices include an extensive bibliography, an overview of American band music, a list of publishers, a list of band journals, a conversion chart for adapting foreign band music to American instruments, and more.

 

AN IMPORTANT FOREIGN LANGUAGE SOURCE TO REMEMBER:

DIE MUSIK IN GESCHICHTE UND GEGENWART : ALLGEMEINE ENZYKLOPAEDIE DER MUSIK
Friedrich Blume, ed. (1st ed.) ; Ludwig Finscher, ed. (2nd ed.) – 1994+
REF ML 100 M92 1994
Known as MGG.  The title can be translated “Music in the Past and Present : General Encyclopedia of Music.”  This is the standard comprehensive reference work in German, comparable to our NEW GROVE.  The first part, the “Sachteil” (9 vols.), covers terms and music topics, not people.  The second part (“Personenteil”) contains biographies .

Greer Music Library