Performing Arts Encyclopedia

Music and Performing Arts

African American Sheet Music from Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship


Description: The African American Sheet Music Collection consists of music by and relating to African Americans, from the 1820s to the present day, and consists of approximately 6,000 items. It includes songs from the heyday of antebellum blackface minstrelsy in the 1850s and from the abolitionist movement of the same period. It includes numerous titles associated with the novel and the play Uncle Tom’ s Cabin, so greatly influential in its day. Civil War period music includes songs about African-American soldiers, a controversial topic of the time, and the plight of the newly emancipated slave. Post-Civil War music reflects the problems of Reconstruction and the beginnings of urbanization and the northern migration of African Americans, notably in the music associated with the Harrigan & Hart shows of the 1880s. Sheet music of this period further documents the emergence of African-American performers and musical troupes, first in blackface minstrelsy, and later at the beginnings of the African-American musical stage in the late 1890s. The works of African-American popular composers, including James Bland, Ernest Hogan, Bob Cole, James Reese Europe, and Will Marion Cook are a prominent feature of the music of this period. The turn of the century period includes rags and the so-called “coon” songs, whose strident racial images have lost none of their power to shock. Twentieth century titles feature many photographs of African-American musical performers, often in costume. The music associated with World War I depicts the African-American soldier, and the period ends with works that point to the age of jazz, blues, and the lively African-American musical theatre of the 1920s.
Coverage: 1820s to the present


Allmusic from Macrovision Solutions Corporation


Description: The Allmusic website was created in 1995 as a place for music fans to indulge their passion. Whether you’re visiting Allmusic to look up an out-of-print recording, to get a take on a new release, or simply to explore the world of music and see where it may lead, you’ve come to the right spot. All genres and styles of music are covered here, ranging from the most commercially popular to the most obscure. We critique albums and artists within the context of their own genres – from opera to garage rock to traditional country. This ensures that fans of any style of music can depend on us to keep them up-to-date with their favorite artists as well as introduce them to new sounds.
Coverage: Various Dates


Archive of Popular American Music from UCLA Music Library


Description: Database of catalog records describing the holdings of the UCLA Music Library’s Archive of Popular American Music, a research collection covering the history of popular music in the United States from 1790 to the present. Catalog records include digital images of sheet music covers. Browsing indexes include name, title, cover art subject, and date. Advanced search indexes include keyword, title, description, composer or lyricist, and publisher.
Coverage: 1790-Present


Chasanoff/Elozua “Amazing Grace” Collection from Library of Congress


Description: This database is the online catalog of the Chasanoff/Elozua “Amazing Grace” Collection at the Library of Congress, which comprises more than 3000 published recorded performances of the hymn “Amazing Grace” by different individual musicians or musical ensembles. The collection, compiled by Allan Chasanoff and Raymon Elozua, is undoubtedly the largest such collection of a single musical work in the recorded sound collection of the Library of Congress.

The recordings in the Chasanoff/Elozua “Amazing Grace” Collection were made between the 1930s and 2000. The audio formats represented in the collection include: compact disc, mp3 files (all acquired legally), vinyl long-playing 33-1/3 rpm discs, 78 rpm discs, cassette tapes, and various video media.

The full breadth of the collection is revealed by the great range of performance styles: big band, blues, classical, country, ‘easy listening,’ electronic, folk, gospel, different styles of jazz, ‘novelty,’ operatic, pop, rap, rock, rhythm ‘n’ blues, soul, and various ethnic, or ‘world music,’ styles. The wide array of performers include children’s groups, religious ensembles, concert bands, bagpipers, steel guitarists, and American Indians.
Coverage: 1930s-2000


Contemporary Music Score Collection from UCLA Music Library


Description: The Contemporary Music Score Collection is published by the UCLA Music Library. The collection includes the digital, open access scores from the Contemporary Score Edition series, the first open access edition of new music published by a library, and scores from the Kaleidoscope 2020 Call for Scores, an open access collaboration with the UCLA Music Library.
Coverage: Various Dates


Documenting the American South: Primary Resources for the Study of Southern History, Literature, and Culture from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Description: Documenting the American South (DocSouth), a digital publishing initiative sponsored by the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provides access to digitized primary materials that offer Southern perspectives on American history and culture. It supplies teachers, students, and researchers at every educational level with a wide array of titles they can use for reference, studying, teaching, and research.
Coverage: Various Dates


Folger Shakespeare Library LUNA Collections from Folger Shakespeare Library


Description: The Folger’s Digital Image Collection offers online access to over 75,000 images from the Folger Shakespeare Library collection, including books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, art, and more. Images are available in high resolution and users can show multiple images side-by-side, zoom in and out to see fine detail, view cataloging information when available, export thumbnails, and construct permanent URLs linking back to their favorite items or searches. Through the Digital Image Collection, users can:

  • Compare 19th-century productions of Shakespeare with today’s through historic photographs and promptbooks;
  • Look at letters written by Queen Elizabeth I;
  • Examine rare paintings in “up close and personal” detail;
  • Read diary entries from over 200 years ago and more.

Coverage: Various Dates


Freely Accessible Arts & Humanities Journals from Serials Solutions


Description: A collection of free online journals in a broad range of disciplines including art, history, literature, education, humanities, and social sciences. Managed by Serials Solutions.
Coverage: Various Dates

About This Resource


Freely Accessible Music, Film & Performing Arts Online Resources from Library of Congress


Description: A collection of publicly available Music, Film & Performing Arts online resources selected by Library of Congress staff.
Coverage: Various dates

About This Resource


Italian Song from Francesco Ciabattoni


Description: The Italian Song website was created by Professor Francesco Ciabattoni of Georgetown University and includes contributions by many international scholars. The site contains song lyrics in the original language and in English translation, as well as short bilingual commentaries on the artists and some specific songs. The website is intended as teaching and scholarly tool to present the repertory of Italian songs to a global audience by translating the most significant songs and by contextualizing Italian singers and songwriters from the 1950s onward. Because it was born as a teaching resource, of high quality and rigorous standards for a publicly accessible website, the selection of songs and artists is somewhat arbitrary and the transcription of song lyrics was carried out following a general methodology to make the whole process as consistent as possible. Some entries have links to music videos.
Coverage: Various Dates


It’s Showtime! Sheet Music from Stage and Screen from Library of Congress


Description: This database is an online catalog of sheet music excerpts, held by the Library of Congress, from dramatic music of all kinds, including music from operas, musicals and musical revues, and film music. Sheet music excerpts from these works have been published for over 300 years. This online database includes over 18,000 shows and productions dating from the 1690s to the present, containing more than 67,000 songs. These pieces come from all over the world and cover every conceivable topic, portraying the culture and history of their time and place in unique and valuable ways.
Coverage: 1690s to present


Jazz on the Screen: A Jazz and Blues Filmography by David Meeker from Library of Congress


Description: This is the sixth corrected and expanded edition of a searachable database of filmography that documents, in a purely factual manner and with a very minimum of editorial flourish, the work of some 1,000 major jazz and blues figures in what presently amounts to well over 20,000 cinema, television and video productions. In other words, this is a filmography of musicians’ screen work. It does not purport to contain any discographical information. It attempts to include not only active participation by an individual musician in visually recorded media, where he or she has actually contributed creatively to a production, but also those many instances where their pre-composed work has been used on soundtrack or where their image has been interpreted aurally or visually, with or without their collaboration, often posthumously and more often than not, previously uncredited.

Included here are films produced professionally for the screen, whether released commercially or non-commercially on 70mm, 35mm or 16mm gauges, notwithstanding their length. Some films are included that were completed but not released; even a few that remain uncompleted. Films, teleplays and television series made for distant transmission are also included no matter how they were eventually released. In all cases it is quite irrelevant whether the item was shot on film, videotape or digital formats.
Coverage: 20th Century – Present


Media History Digital Library from Media History Digital Library


Description: A non-profit initiative dedicated to digitizing collections of classic media periodicals that belong in the public domain for full public access. The project is supported by owners of materials who loan them for scanning, and donors who contribute funds to cover the cost of scanning. Over 200,000 pages have been currently scanned, and that number is growing. The collections feature extensive runs of several important trade papers and fan magazines.
Coverage: Various Dates


National Association of Schools of Music from National Association of Schools of Music


Description: Founded in 1924, the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities with approximately 639 accredited institutional members. It establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials for music and music-related disciplines, and provides assistance to institutions and individuals engaged in artistic, scholarly, educational, and other music-related endeavors. This website outlines the purposes, operations, and services of NASM, including the accreditation process for institutions, and information for musicians, students, and the public.
Coverage: various dates


Orthodox Sacred Music Reference Library from Russian Choral Heritage Foundation


Description: The Orthodox Sacred Music Reference Library is a comprehensive Internet-based archive of authentic sources for Orthodox sacred music. The archive contains original manuscripts by prominent Orthodox composers, systematized and indexed for optimal search capabilities. Materials in the Orthodox Sacred Music Reference Library include scanned facsimiles or PDFs of:

  • Original manuscripts by prominent Orthodox composers
  • Published first editions of works by prominent Orthodox composers prepared under the composers’ supervision
  • Published secondary editions of works by prominent Orthodox composers prepared using accepted scholarly techniques

The Orthodox Sacred Music Reference Library is a project of the Russian Choral Heritage Foundation, a not-for-profit organization whose primary mission and goal is the preservation and cultivation of the Russian sacred choral tradition.
Coverage: Various Dates


Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization from Posen Foundation


Description: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization is a vast and ongoing project launched over fifteen years ago by Felix Posen to gather literature, art, and translate primary sources from biblical times to the 21st century. The goal is to make this unprecedented collection, revealing Jewish creativity, diversity, and cultural contributions around the globe, easily available in English to all.

The selections of The Posen Library, curated by leading Jewish studies scholars, put readers directly in touch with the artist’s work across a vast range of genres: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, religious and political writing, painting, photography, sculpture, architecture, unmediated by interpretation as would be the case in an encyclopedia. Also available in print to purchase, the Posen Digital Library (PDL) is an interactive database,so it is accessible around the world for all who read English. This free, living library is updated as each new volume of The Posen Library is completed.
Coverage: 1750-1880; 1918-1939; 1973-2005

Access is free but requires individual registration.

RISM from Bavarian State Library, the State Library of Berlin, and RISM


Description: RISM is an international collective undertaking with the aim of comprehensively documenting surviving music sources anywhere in the world. RISM keeps track of what is in existence and where it is kept. In many countries, independent national working groups in libraries and archives catalog historical music sources: music prints, music manuscripts and libretti as well as writings about music (of a theoretical nature). The results are coordinated, summarised and published by RISM. The online-catalog offered here contains around 700,000 references almost exclusively to music manuscripts. These records pass on to posterity the works of some 25,000 composers. The sources are preserved in the libraries and archives of 32 countries. This online-catalog contains data on Series A/II: Music manuscripts after 1600, which was previously published as a CD-ROM or an Internet databank. RISM’s databank is the most comprehensive accessible documentation in the area of music manuscripts hitherto, and it will grow constantly through regular updates.
Coverage: Various Dates


Show Music on Record: A Searchable Database Based on the Book by Jack Raymond from Library of Congress


Description: Show Music on Record is an updated digital version of the definitive reference source by Jack Raymond, first published in 1982. It provides a reference list of recordings of songs from American shows (and of foreign shows that played in America) as performed by members of original, revival, and studio casts. Included are shows produced for the American stage, screen, and television, as well as foreign musical films that played in America. It also includes records of composers performing their own show songs and selected other recordings of related interest. The recordings listed come from various commercially-released show music recordings, starting with those captured on early cylinders in the late 19th century and continuing through compact disc productions of the early 21st century.
Coverage: 1890s to 2010


Tap Dance in America from Library of Congress


Description: Tap dance is an indigenous American dance genre that evolved over a period of some three hundred years. This collection of historical records on tap dance performance comprises ten years of research for Tap Dancing America, A Cultural History, published by Oxford University Press in 2010. This book was the first comprehensive and fully documented history of a uniquely American art form that explored all aspects of the intricate musical and social exchange that evolved from Afro-Irish percussive step dances like the jig, gioube, buck-and-wing, and juba to the work of contemporary tap dance artists. In order to write a history of tap in America, there needed to be an accurate historical record of names, dates, and venues; and so began the laborious and painstaking task of constructing a chronology, drawing from a multitude of sources. The resulting database is a resource of tap dance performances with biographies of seminal twentieth-century tap dancers.
Coverage: Various Dates

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