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Popular Song and Musical Theater: Background Research

A Guide to Important Reference Sources and Online Resources Available at USC Upstate.

New Library System!

On June 1, the Upstate Library introduced a new library system that will change the way you access books and other library materials. When you connect to the library web site, you will find a single search box for books and a selection of databases, meaning you can search for books, articles, and media in one search. You will also be able to choose what you want to search, limit your results to specific materials, and will still be able to access library databases through the Databases and E-Resources page and this library guide. This guide will be updated as soon as possible after the change.

Reference Sources

All call numbers beginning with REF are shelved in the Reference Section of the library.

Electronic resources are accessed by hyperlinks indicated by blue text.

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. – REF ML 100 .N48 2001 vols. 1-29.  The first-stop source for a broad range of musical topics, the New Grove is considered the most authoritative music encyclopedia in the English language. Covers all aspects of music including composers and musicians, compositions, music history and criticism, musical instruments, popular and non-Western music. Available online in Oxford Music Online.

Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 4th ed. – REF ML 102 P66 G84 1995 vols. 1-10. Authoritative source that provides detailed entries, with “balanced opinion,” documenting popular music from 1900 to the present day. Biographical in emphasis, but with many topics covered as well.                                          

Oxford Companion to Popular Music – REF ML 102 .P66 G35 1991. A broad treatment of popular music of all periods. Entries include personalities, shows, terms, genres and other topics.

Music in American Life - REF ML 101 .U6 M87 2013 vols. 1-4; also available Gale Virtual Reference Library

Encyclopedia of African-American Music (2011) - Available in EBSCO eBook Collection.

Oxford Dictionary of Music, 6th ed. (formerly Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music)Oxford Reference. Brief definitions of musical terms, topics, composers and musicians.

Harvard Dictionary of Music – REF ML 100 .A64 2003. An authoritative dictionary for musical terminology, including entries on basic terms, styles, genres, historical periods and countries. Covers popular styles and non-Western music as well as Western Classical music. Also available online in Credo Reference.

Oxford Dictionary of Music – REF ML 100 .K35 1997. A reliable dictionary centered around Western Classical music. Includes entries on composers and musicians as well as musical terminology and topics. Articles range from short definitions to substantial essays. Also available in Oxford Music Online.

American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia – REF ML 102 .M68 H57 1999. Guide to songs from film musicals, arranged alphabetically by song title. Entries emphasize the context of the songs within the film. Also includes sections on Best Song Oscars, Oscar-Nominated Film Musicals, and Film Musicals.

American Musical Theatre. A chronicle, 4th ed. – REF ML 1711 .B67 2011. An historical survey of Broadway shows arranged by year. Contains summaries of plots.

American Musical Theater Song Encyclopedia – REF ML 102 .M88 H59 1995. Guide to songs from stage musicals, also emphasizing the context in which the songs appear in the shows. Includes a list of musicals with songs.

American Popular Song Composers: Oral Histories - REF ML 3477 .W55 2012. Interviews with many of the leading song composers from the 1920s-1950s.

American Popular Song Lyricists: Oral Historis - REF ML 3477 .W56 2012. Interviews with many of the leading lyricists of popular song from the 1920s-1960s.

American Song – REF ML 128 .M78 B6 1996, vols. 1-4. Comprehensive guide to songs from the musical theater and Tin Pan Alley. The first two volumes are a “Complete Musical Theatre Companion” incorporating an alphabetical listing of shows with their songs from 1877-1995. Volume 3 is devoted to songwriters, while volume 4 includes several comprehensive indexes to the songs and songwriters.

A Century of American Popular Music (1899-1999): 2000 best-loved and remembered songs - REF ML 128 .P63 J37 2002.

A Chronology of American Musical Theater – REF ML 1711.8 .N3 N67 2002, vols. 1-3. A chronological listing of shows and their revivals, including ballad operas, operettas, and revues as well as musicals, from 1750 to 2001. Entries include basic information on the show and its creators, a cast list, and a list of songs by act.

Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, 2nd ed. – REF ML 102 .M88 G3 2001 vols. 1-3.  Comprehensive coverage of the musical play, including entries with descriptions, history and criticism of plays (worldwide), and biographical sketches of actors, actresses, writers and directors.

Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings - Detailed information on key recordings of approximately 1,000 popular songs from the 1890s to the present. Available in Credo Reference.

Hollywood Songsters, 2nd ed. – REF ML 400 .P295 2003, vols. 1-3. A guide to “singers who act and actors who sing.” 

Oxford Companion to the American Musical - REF ML 102 .M88 H593 2008. More than two thousand entries cover all aspects of the musical: shows, performers, composers, lyricists, producers, choreographers, and more. Includes film and television musicals as well as shows originally conceived for the stage. Also available in Oxford Reference.

Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song - REF ML 102 .P66 J37 2003. Focus is on the period from about 1880-1950. Also available in EBSCO ebooks