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Music: Dictionaries and encyclopedias

Selected resources for students of music

Dictionaries, encyclopedias and other A-Z reference works

Reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks are useful for definitions of terms and for brief factual information. Dictionaries and encyclopedias will provide you with:

  • definitions of terms and concepts
  • articles on genres, styles and musical forms
  • articles on composers, performers, music of particular countries, musical instruments and musical works

This page has a selection of dictionaries and encyclopedias. To find further examples use the library 'Search'. Type your topic keyword/s for example: music dictionaries or popular music encyclopedias or jazz encyclopedias.
The Oxford Music Bibliographies feature peer reviewed annotated bibliographies which are also a useful reference resource. For example: Baroque musicJazz, Medieval music, Romanticism as well as Rap/Hip HopSalsa, Sonata, Symphony and Video Game Music.
The African American almanac has a comprehensive article on Blues and Jazz, which which is part of the Gale Reference Library.

Online encyclopedias

It is possible to go directly to particular regions as illustrated in a selection here:

More encyclopedias on databases 

Encyclopedias on specific subjects


Interdisciplinary Encyclopedias

Famous German Encyclopedia of Music in History (MGG)