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Pacific Lutheran University

Inquiry. Service. Leadership. Care.


Explore Potential Topics

General resources such as Wikipedia and the reference works listed below can be great places to start exploring a topic, especially if your topic is still far too broad for the scope of your project. To begin, click the Oxford Music Online link below and see what's offered on your topic. Don't worry about getting too specific at this point--but if something captures your interest, follow it.

Follow References and Citations

One of the great powers of resources like Oxford Music Online--and Wikipedia too!--is their reference lists. Using the same references that the creators of these resources used can be a rewarding research strategy. Here's how to do it:

  1. Look at the citation closely. What kind of document is it? A book, article, music recording, or something else? Is there a link to the citation? Does it work?
  2. If it's a book, article, music score, or similar, look it up in the library catalog. Does the PLU library have the item?
  3. If not, look up the same item in Worldcat Discovery. Make sure to click "Libraries Worldwide" on the search results page.
  4. Use Interlibrary Loan to request the item from another library.

Keyword Searching in the Library Catalog

The library catalog is your best option for finding composer biographies, musicological studies, scores, and music recordings.

For best results, try these strategies:

  • For books about music, search by time period (such as "17th century"), geographic location, work type (such as "orchestral music"), or descriptive terms (such as "history", "criticism", or "appreciation").
  • For books about composers, search on the composer's name. Use the Book format limiter to filter out articles and other materials.
  • For recordings, enter the composer's name and use the Music format limiter.
  • For scores, enter the composer's name or a few words from the work title, and use the Musical Scores format limiter.

Not finding what you need? Search WorldCat Discovery, expand your search to Libraries Worldwide, and take advantage of Interlibrary Loan.

Reading Music Call Numbers

All music call numbers start with the letter M. Easy to remember! But there are different kinds of music resources, denoted by their call number letters:

  • M alone: A music score, recording, or video performance.
  • ML: Literature about music; musicology, biography, music history, etc.
  • MT: Literature about music education, exercise books, and teaching materials.

If the library is closed, or for your own convenience, you can place a hold for print items from the catalog. Then, pick them up from library staff.

Finding Music Articles