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Jazz: Home

Subject headings and other research tools to lead to jazz performance, history and recordings.

Subject headings

There are many recordings, some scores, and many books about jazz in general and about specific people. Search the catalog by individual’s name as an author to see books or music for which the person is a performer, author or has other responsibility. Recordings, especially, are most easily found under a performer's or group's name. Search subject headings for books about the person or for material about various aspects of jazz. Some sample headings are given below.

SUBJECT HEADINGS –a sample of headings, NOT key words! Search these under the "subject" category in the library catalog.

Jazz-- the largest and broadest heading; it covers all formats unless the search is limited to “books”, “scores” or “musical recordings”, which will include both records (ST, LP) and CDs.  There are also numerous cross-references to related headings. The following list includes some examples of headings that begin with “Jazz”. Both jazz music and books about jazz are to be found under this heading.

Jazz—Analysis, appreciation

Jazz—Bibliography.  Most in Music Reference; call number  ML128.J3…

Jazz—Dictionaries.  Most in Music Reference; call number ML102.J3….

Jazz—History and criticism.  Most in Music Book Collection; common call numbers include ML3506, ML3508, ML3561, but there are many others.

Jazz—Instruction and study.  Many in MT68 but also scattered in other call numbers.

Jazz—Pictorial works.  Album covers, portraits, memorabilia in photographs. Note location may be either Fine Arts—Art or Fine Arts—Music.

Jazz musicians.   Collections of information about several musicians in one volume..

Jazz musicians—Biography.  These tend to be about individuals; ML419 is a common number.  Also look up a specific individual as a subject heading.

Jazz musicians—Portraits.  For collections of portraits of people, especially individuals.

Piano music (Jazz)

Violin music (Jazz)

[Substitute other instruments in this pattern to see if there are entries for them, e.g. Trombone…, Trumpet…]

Jazz vocals

Streaming music

Under  "Electronic Resources, then “Texts and Links”,  find these Alexander Street Press streamed resources, which may contain material of use:

African American song

American song

Jazz music library

Smithsonian global sound

Related headings

Some examples out of the many that are available:

African Americans—Music.

Spirituals (Songs)

Soul music

Cool jazz

Jazz musicians, White


From the library catalog, select “Electronic resources”, then select one of the following databases. In some cases, you can connect to full text; in others, use the periodical reference to track down the material.  The library catalog allows search of the journal or book title but NOT of the contents or individual articles.  Note that most of these resources allow limits by language, approximate time period, and similar terms to narrow down the responses.

RILM Abstracts: focuses on music, especially in scholarly publications; international. Covers periodicals, some books, dissertations, etc. Began 1969, current to within about a year. Contains abstracts; many full-text links. Use entries found here to find more literature about your topic.

Music Index: periodicals; limited abstracts; no full text; mostly scholarly; international. Online covers 1973-current. Older volumes bound in Music Reference, dating from 1949.

International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP): covers 350+ international; ranges from scholarly to very popular articles in journals and newspapers. Primary coverage is mid-20th century to current; some older indexing may date to early 20th C.

Also try: JStor; Proquest; Project Muse.  These are more general databases, and may cover some of the more popular journals in addition to the scholarly sources.  Searching topics or individuals' names will generally lead to full-text resources.  Try specific headings, such as a style, performer or instrument, to limit the number of responses. If insufficient information is retrieved, broaden the search.

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