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Music: Search Tips

This guide provides a starting point for researching topics related to music.


Conjuctions (aka - Boolean Operators) help broaden or narrow your subject when searching

  • And: Narrow your searcy by looking for one term AND another.  Example: "dogs and cats" - Results will have both dogs and cats
  • Or:Expand your search by looking for one term OR another  Example: "dogs or cats" - Results may have either dogs or cats
  • Not: Limit your search by looking for one term, but NOT another.  Example: "dogs not cats" - Results will have only dogs, not cats


Searching Phrases

Use double quotations marks to search for an exact phrase (search for those words when they appear together).

·         Example: “embryonic stem cell”



Wildcard and Truncation Symbols enable you to search for variations of words

1.      Use ? (a question mark) to replace each unknown letter from a word. This symbol is useful if you are unsure of the spelling of a word.

·         Example:  Typing ne?t  will retrieve results containing the words next, neat, or nest.


2.      Enter the root of a word followed by * (an asterisk) to find all words with the same root. It can be used to find both the singular and plural forms of a word.

·         Example: Typing comput* will retrieve results containing the words computer or computing.



Limiters allow you to narrow the resources you want to search for

Select limiters to narrow your search.  Examples of limiters include:

·         full text (of abstracts and/or documents)

·         publication date

·         journal type (peer reviewed)

·         material type (book, article, newspaper)

Remember that the more limiters you choose, the fewer results you will get.

Be sure to type the subject word or phrase in separate fields for the best possible return of articles. Example: Type Autism in one field with And from the drop box and Vaccines in the next field.

Keyword vs. Subject

Keyword vs. subject searching

Keyword searches will bring up articles wherever that word appears in the database (in the articles, subjects, publications, abstracts, authors, etc.).


Subject searches will bring up only articles to which a specific subject (term or phrase) has been assigned; it searches only the subject field.

·         Most databases have a subject search option and sometimes a thesaurus to help you find the right terms to use in your search.


Dewey Decimal Quick Reference



  • 372 Music Textbooks
  • 780.3 Dictionaries
  • 780.7 Music Education
  • 780.8 Anthologies
  • 780.9 Musicology
  • 780.92 Biographies
  • 781.1 Basic Principles
  • 781.2 Elements of Music
  • 781.3 Composition
  • 781.7 Sacred Music
  • 782.1 Opera
  • 782.2 Sacred Vocal
  • 782.4 Secular Vocal
  • 783 Voice
  • 784.2 Symphony Orchestra
  • 784.23 Concertos
  • 784.3 Chamber Orchestra
  • 785 Instrumental Ensemble
  • 786 Keyboard
  • 786.2142 Keyboard Pedagogy
  • 787 Strings
  • 788 Woodwinds
  • 788.9 Brass


Subject Guide

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Stephanie Shelburne
Music Library - Ext. 2706
Mack Library - Ext. 6038