Screenshot, Online Resources for Music Scholars
Online Resources for Music Scholars

We are delighted to announce a major revision to the Music Library’s largest and oldest research guide, Online Resources for Music Scholars.

Online Resources for Music Scholars provides a basis for beginning electronic research on a wide variety of topics in music, including historical musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, composition, and performance practice. It collects links to archival collections, online scores and sound recordings; article indexes, discographies and bibliographies; scholarly societies; musical reference works; and a miscellany of useful websites.

This redesign moves the guide from a flat, hierarchical listing of links to a tagged, searchable database. Every link is annotated and assigned tags indicating both the subject (e.g. ethnomusicology, manuscripts, Aaron Copland, popular music) and resource type (e.g. digital score, discography, image collection, streaming audio). The new version reflects that different people organize information in different ways: one person may want to see a list of sites with online scores; another may want to see everything related to Bach; another may want links to sites about music theory; another may be looking for sites devoted to music in Africa. We hope the guide’s renaissance makes it a better, easier to use resource for researchers with varied goals and levels of musical experience.

Screenshot, Tag Cloud, Online Resources for Music Scholars
Tag Cloud, Online Resources for Music Scholars

Online Resources for Music Scholars has been online since (at least) the mid-1990s: our oldest archived version dates to 1999. Site statistics regularly place various sections in the top 10-20 most frequently-used research guides on the Harvard College Library website. When it was created, it was reasonable for one library to attempt to describe the entire universe of scholarly resources in music on one webpage, and to do so in a hierarchical, rigidly organized way that replicated the experience of browsing a physical bookshelf.

The internet doesn’t work like that anymore.

With the proliferation of digital collections, online multimedia, and web resources of all kinds, one eresource quite commonly includes many kinds of information: digitized scores, recordings, correspondence, and images; reference sources like thematic catalogs; performance histories and biographical information; bibliographies, discographies, and library catalogs. The website of the Arnold Schönberg Center, for example, is not just a source for information about the world’s premier Schoenberg archive; it also includes hundreds of manuscript facsimiles, streaming recordings, and other research materials.

We recognize that Online Resources for Music Scholars is a work in progress, and we very much appreciate your comments and suggestions.

– Kerry Masteller