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Aaron Copland School of Music
Queens College Libraries
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Location & Contact

Music Building, Room 225
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Queens, NY 11367-1597

(tel) 718-997-3900
(fax) 718-997-3928

In Reference

Basic Reference Sources

  • Harvard Dictionary of Music (Ref ML 105 H38 1996)
    • The best single-volume dictionary of musical terms. An excellent source for basic definitions.
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Ref ML 100 N48 2001 or Online Grove)
    • The most comprehensive source for entries on people, terms, countries, genres, time periods, etc.
  • Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (Ref ML 105 B16 2001 or Ref ML 105 B164)
    • An excellent source for basic biographies of musicians from all time periods and genres.
  • Sampsel, Laurie. Music Research: A Handbook (Ref ML 113 S28 2009)
    • A useful and easy to use guide to music research. Explains terms, lists important resources, and breaks down resources into types.
  • Ref ML 128

  • Collection of Bibliographies by genre, instrument, ensemble, or time period.
  • Ref ML 134

  • Section of reference books on composers (arranged alphabetically by composer). You can find books, articles, recordings, and many more resources that you may not be able to find online or in the Queens College libraries listed in the Bio-Bibliographies and Research Guides.

  • Bio-Bibliographies
    — Consists of a brief biography and an extensive bibliography, or list of sources, on the composer or musician. Usually includes a complete list of works.

    Research Guides — An extensive bibliography, or list of sources, with most items being briefly explained and evaluated.

  • Thematic Catalogue — A list or index of compositions of a single composer or of a collection or repertory of music. Each composition or movement is identified by the opening notes and/or principal themes in music notation.

In Collected Works & Historical Sets

  • Reference scores generally consist of Collected Works and Historical Sets. Collected Works, sometimes also called Complete Works, compile the entire works of a single composer in a series and can be found in Ref M 3 (arranged alphabetically by composer). Historical Sets consist of works of a particular region, time period, and/or genre. Many hard-to-find works can be found in these sets. These are shelved in Ref M 2.

  • Please note that some series are still being published. Some volumes may not be published yet. See the books listed below or Prof. Oates for more information.

  • Heyer, Anna Harriet. Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music: A Guide to Their Contents. Ref ML 113 H52 1980
    • To find a specific piece within a composer’s collected edition or in a particular historical set or monument of music, look up the composer or title of the set or monument in volume 1. Look for the piece within the given edition. Find the Collected Edition, Historical Set, or Monument of Music on the shelf (use the CUNY Catalog to find the call number if necessary) and select the appropriate volume.
      If you need further assistance, please ask for help at the circulation desk.
  • New Grove Entries
    • Many composer entries in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians include the series and volume number for works within composer’s collected works in the Complete Works list at the back of the article. Be sure to look at the Complete Works key to decipher the abbreviations. (Note: Not all entries have this information.)
  • Reihe, Heft, Abteilung: What do they mean?
    • Collected Works and Historical Sets are often organized in multiple volumes and series. Some are as simple as volumes 1, 2, 3, etc. while others are more complicated with series, sub-series, and volumes within the sub-series. Most only have series and volumes.
    • Series (may also be called Reihe)
    • Workgroup (also known as Werkgruppe)
    • Section (also known as Abteilung)
    • Volume (may also be called Band)
  • For Example, the first portion of Mozart’s Neue Ausgabe (New Complete Works) breaks down like this:
    • Series I: Sacred Choral Works
    • Workgroup 1: Masses and Requiem
    • Section 1: Masses
    • Volume 1
    • Volume 2
    • Etc.
    • Section 2: Requiem
    • Section 3: Litanies and Vespers
    • Volume 1: Litanies
    • Volume 2: Vespers
    • Etc.

RISM: Répertoire international des sources musicales (International Inventory of Musical Sources)

  • RISM is a monumental undertaking to document the existence and location of printed and manuscript music (musical works, writings about music, and textbooks on music) from all countries of the world before the year 1850. Initially published only as printed catalogs, RISM is now also available online. (Please note that Queens College only has the print version and does not provide access to RISM online.) The project is divided into three subseries:

    • A - Inventories of musical sources from 1600-1800 (in manuscript and printed editions) organized by composer
      B - Bibliographies of materials organized by particular topic
      C - Directories of music libraries around the world
    Every source will be given in the language of the country in which it is located. The location of all sources will be indicated by a system of sigla. The work as a whole will be divided into two series, one alphabetic and the other systematic. Those titles which can be catalogued according to the names of editors and which are available in individual sources will appear in the alphabetic catalogue. In the systematic series will appear the titles of collections, anonymous works or other music works which lend themselves better to systematic rather than to alphabetic cataloguing.

List of Individual Volumes (Ref ML 113 R59)

A/I-XV – Inventory of printed music and manuscripts by composers from 1800

B/I-II – Printed music in collections, 16th-18th Centuries
B/III – The theory of music from the Carolingian age (c. 9th century) to c.1500
B/IV – Manuscripts of polyphonic music, 11th-16th Centuries
B/V – Manuscripts of tropes and sequences
B/VI – Printed writings about music, to 1800
B/VII – Lute and guitar tablatures
B/VIII – The German hymn
B/IX – Hebrew Sources of Music and Music Theory
B/X – Arabic Sources of Music and Music Theory
B/XI – Ancient Greek Sources of Music and Music Theory
B/XII -- Persian Sources of Music and Music Theory
B/XIII – Sources of Hymnody (not yet published, forthcoming)
B/XIV – Manuscripts of processionals (liturgical books)
B/XV – Sources of polyphonic masses from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America

C – Directory of music research libraries