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Ethnomusicology, World Music, and Folk Music Guide: Key Resources

This guide introduces

Tools for research in

The study of music in different cultures, ethnomusicology explores the relationship between music and society.

Folk Music
Music of oral tradition or evoking the style of oral-tradition music, often associated with a specific nationality or political movement.

World Music
This loosely defined term can refer to any music outside the western-art

Garland in print

Two print copies of the Garland Encyclopedia are available in the Music and Media Library

  • On reserve:   ML100 .G16 1998.  3-day loan period—overdue fines accrue hourly.
  • Copy in the reference section does not circulate:  ML100 .G16 1998.
  • Audio content is available on CDs: ask at the desk to listen in the library or take home.

Reference Works

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Online
More than 700 articles covering the music of the world's peoples, from the earliest known traditions to current practices.

  • Select a volume and then use the side bar to browse the contents. 
  • When using the "Search inside" feature, notice the orange markers above your results.  Click on a marker for a peek at the selected text.

Grove Music Online (Part of Oxford Music Online)
The primary English-language reference source for music. Covers music of all styles, periods, and geographic regions.

  • Truncation symbol: *. Wildcards: ? for one character; * for one or more characters (c*t finds cat, cut, carat, clout, count . . .)
  • Take advantage of the bibliography at the end of most articles.

Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 4th ed.  Colin Larkin, ed. 
Available online through Oxford Music Online.  Search this on its own or with other Oxford titles.
Covers popular music—including world music—from 1900 to the present, with articles on artists, genres, trends, record labels, venues, and festivals.

Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.  Ed. by John Shepherd et al. New York:  Continuum, 2003– . 8 vols.
Vols. 1-7 available online via Credo Reference
Use "Find a Book" and limit your results to music books.  Then search them all at once or browse contents of the Continuum encyclopedia.  (Vol. 8, Genres:  North America, available in print only.)
Print version:  MUSICMEDIA REFERENCE ML102 .P66 2003

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Music of India.  Published in 2011.
Covers music of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  Includes articles on technical terms, dance styles, instruments, and styles of music from classical to film-originated.
Print version:  MUSICMEDIA REFERENCE ML101.I47 O94 2011 (3 vols.)

Countries and their Cultures
Available online via Gale Virtual Reference Library:  go to the "select a publication" area under the search box, and expand the listing for Nation and World to find this specific title.

Print version:  WOODRUFF LIBRARY REFERENCE GN307 .C68 2001
Great overviews of countries including information on their food, economy, politics, family/marriage, arts, religion, etc.

eHRAF World Cultures, Human Relations Area Files
A cross-cultural database containing over350,000 pages of ethnographic and other documents (including books, journal articles, and dissertations) on all aspects of cultural and social life.

  • Culture Summaries (recommended): to navigate to these use the Browse function and click on the specific culture listing.
  • Documents and other content: accessing these is tricky.  Contact Joyce Clinkscales for help:

Brill Dictionary of Religion
Multimedia reference on religions throughout the world and the complex roles of religions in contemporary societies

General Sources Online

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, plus Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford Reference Online
Contains text of more than 170 reference works in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences, including bilingual dictionaries of French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

Credo Reference Unlimited
Contains hundreds of reference works in various fields, searchable all at once or individually. Click on Find a Book to see out what's included. For foreign language dictionaries, click on Find a Book and select General Reference.


Peter Shirts's picture
Peter Shirts
Music and Media Library
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