Searching Effectively

Searching for Music & Dance Materials

Scroll down for some tips on searching for music or dance materials.

  • "How do I find...?" biographical info, lieder/opera texts, song lyrics, works in collected editions, music industry resources, world music resources, themes/melodies I can't identify . . .
  • Music Research Resources : article databases, reference works, dissertation finding tools, websites of interest to musicologists . . .
  • Dance Research Resources : article databases, reference works, dissertation finding tools, websites of interest to dancers and choreographers . . . 
  • Copyright Info

Tips on searching

Usually a library catalog lists books, DVDs, journal titles, CDs, microfilms — everything but articles. To find articles, search article databases. For database tips, scroll down.

Tips on searching catalogs

You can search by KEYWORDS (usually the default), but you may get more comprehensive results by AUTHOR, SUBJECT, or TITLE searching:

  • By dancer or company or choreographer (AUTHOR search) - Examples: Baryshnikov, Mikhail or Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater or Tharp, Twyla
  • By "unique" title (TITLE or KEYWORD search) - Examples: West Side Story or Billy the Kid (not generic titles like Symphony no. 1 or Concerto in D)
  • By dance type/form (SUBJECT search) - Examples: ballets; tangos 
  • By instrumentation (SUBJECT or KEYWORD search) - Example: flute and guitar music
  • By performers, conductors, groups (AUTHOR search) - Examples: Marsalis, Wynton; Cleveland Orchestra

You can narrow the results of your search to sound recordings or video recordings or books, etc., by first performing an AUTHOR, TITLE, SUBJECT, or KEYWORD search, and then choosing the LIMIT /SORT or MODIFY SEARCH option and selecting MATERIAL TYPE, then MUSIC RECORD (for recordings) or SERIAL/JOURNAL (for magazines) or BOOK, and then clicking FIND or SUBMIT.

Tips on searching article databases

Practically all databases are browsable by title and subject. But databases differ in the way they treat search terms, and it may save you time to consult the HELP pages first. Some databases offer the full text of articles. Others help you find out which articles exist in which journals. Generally, you can search by KEYWORD, using an author's name or a subject term as one of your keywords (or two or three words as a phrase, enclosed in quotation marks), and then LIMIT/SORT the results of your search by date, language, journal, etc. If the full text of an article is not available, take note of the article citation (journal title, month/year, volume number, article title, inclusive page numbers), and then check the library catalogs to see if OSU or an OhioLINK library owns the journal that contains the article you need. You can request a scan of the article via Article Express. Our most frequently used music and dance databases are listed under Music Research Resources or Dance Research Resources. For other databases see OSU Research Databases.

Consult a librarian for reference assistance of any kind. You can also request reference help by phone at 614-292-2319 or by chat or email at Ask OSU Libraries.

If you have checked the OSU Library Catalog and the Music & Dance Library does not own the item you need, search for it in the OhioLINK catalog — a union catalog of more than 80 Ohio libraries. You can request OhioLINK books, scores, and recordings online and usually receive them within 3 to 5 business days at a pickup location you specify.