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Music: Navigating the Internet

A research guide to finding books, articles, and other resources in Music

Evaluating Websites

Criteria for evaluating websites include:

  • Accuracy
  • Authority
  • Coverage
  • Currency
  • Objectivity

Remember to examine websites carefully before using them for research purposes.  If you still aren't sure, ask a librarian or your professor for assistance.

Using Virtual Libraries

Virtual libraries . . .

♦  Provide directories of carefully selected Web resources.

♦  Include annotations (summaries) of the selected websites.

♦  Are usually maintained by librarians or other information specialists.

♦  Furnish the quality control that is lacking in web search engines.

Users can usually browse by subject or search.  For example, see:

Finding Dulcinea: Librarian of the Internet. (If the search feature does not work, try this link.)

See also the Library of Congress's Virtual Reference Shelf, which includes "selected online resources for research," and Alcove Nine: An Annotated List of Reference Websites.

Citing Your Sources

While writing research papers, you may need to:

  List your sources in bibliographies or works cited, and

♦  Provide either footnotes or endnotes.

Here is a link to the UMW Libraries' Guide to Citing Resources.

Navigation Menu

When looking for web resources related to any of the following topics, either click on these links or scroll down:

Directories and Guides

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Lyrics and Song Indexes


Google Tricks

Directories and Guides

Includes "reference information about all styles of music indigenous to the Western Hemisphere."
Includes information on composers, lists of recommended books, evaluations of recordings, and links to resources.
Iowa State University's early music ensemble, Musica Antiqua compiled this directory of resources pertaining to music of the Renaissance and Middle Ages.
A directory of resources compiled by librarians at the Internet Public Library.
A "Guide to Western Composers and Their Music from the Middle Ages to the Present" prepared by librarians at the Internet Public Library.
A directory of websites arranged by broad subject headings.
Music Treasures Consortium
This Library of Congress performing arts encyclopedia "provides online access to the world's most valued music manuscripts and print materials."

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Provides "basic and accurate biographical information on more than 500 composers."
An extensive dictionary of musical terms.

Lyrics and Song Indexes

Provides access to more than 180,000 song titles (mostly popular music) from more than 2,000 song books, magazines, and other collections.
Images of popular American sheet music from 1790 to the present.
"An archive of 18,203 texts used in Lieder and other classical Art Songs."
Explores America's history through songs.  Includes sheet music, essays, maps, and recordings.


An association of more than 240,000 U.S. composers, lyricists, songwriters, and music publishers. Its database provides detailed information on song titles, composers, artists, and publishers of works in the ASCAP repertory.
Developed and maintained by BMI, a non-profit organization representing more than 300,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers. Repertoire, its database of some 6.5 million song titles, is searchable by artist, title, publisher, or writer.
The purpose of the Digital Mozart Edition is to "make Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's musical compositions widely and conveniently accessible to the public."
A "musical instruments music store."

Google Tricks

  • Use quotation marks for exact words or phrases.
    • For example, “global warming” (to search global warming as a phrase rather than two separate words).
  • Use an asterisk as a wildcard or a placeholder. 
    • For example, universit* (for university or universities); “a * saved is a * earned”
  • Use OR to search for one word or the other.  Useful for synonyms. 
    • For example, attorneys OR lawyers
  • Use site: to search within a site or domain (no space after colon).
    • For example, “global warming”; climatology
  • Use a dash to exclude a word or phrase from a search. 
    •  For example, cougar speed –car; “global warming” –
  • Use allintitle: to show results with word(s) in the title (no space after colon).
    • For example, allintitle:“global warming”
      • You can also use allinurl to find websites with words in the URL.
  • Use related: to search for sites similar to ones you know (no space after colon).
    • For example,
  • Use link: to find sites linked to a particular web page (no space after colon).
    • For example,;
  •  Use filetype: to restrict results to certain file type (no space after colon).
    • For example, climatology filetype:pdf
  • Use two periods without spaces to search for a number range, such as dates, prices, and measurements.
    • For example, “test scores” 2013..2014; microwaves $100..$300