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Music Division








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The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Abe Holzmann. 1901. Music Division.
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In addition to music as notes on paper, class M includes class ML, literature about music, and class MT, works of instruction and study. Class MT is a relatively small class and contains books on music education and pedagogy, theory instruction, and musical analyses. Most books dealing with the topic of women and music will be found in class ML: biographies and published letters of women musicians, histories of women in music, and musicological gender studies.

Bibliographies and Subject Headings

Published bibliographies of literature on women and music began to appear in the late 1970s as women's studies programs gained legitimacy. Of particular note among these are Adrienne Fried Block's Women in American Music (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979; ML128.W7 B6) [catalog record], which covers colonial times to 1978, and Margaret D. Ericson's Women and Music: A Selective Annotated Bibliography on Women and Gender Issues in Music, 1987-1992 (New York: G. K. Hall, 1996; ML128.W7 E75 1996) [catalog record]. The explosive growth of writing on women and music is evident in this latter work, which requires four hundred pages to cover five years of publications.

Subject access to cataloged monographs on women and music is provided through Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Books about individual musicians may be found by searching personal names as subjects. Subject headings that are qualified by sex or ethnic group, such as “Women composers,” “Women musicians,” “African American women musicians,” or “Women jazz musicians,” are used only when the sex or ethnic group is mentioned as a significant aspect of the work. Biographies of Dolly Parton, for example, receive the subject heading “Country musicians—United States—Biography,” whereas Mary A. Bufwack and Robert K. Oermann's Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music (New York: Henry Holt, 1995; ML3524.B83 1995) [catalog record] receives the subject heading “Women country musicians—United States—Biography” because the fact that the country musicians are women is an integral part of the study.

Gender studies in music may be located by searching under the following subject headings: “Gender identity in music,” “Gay musicians,” “Homosexuality and music,” “Sex in music,” and “Feminism and music.” Here the subject heading “Gay musicians” includes both gay men and lesbians. A book such as Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology, edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Woods, and Gary C. Thomas (New York: Routledge, 1994; ML55.Q44 1993) [catalog record], is assigned the subject heading “Gay musicians,” referring to both men and women. And Susan McClary's Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991; ML82.M38 1990) [catalog record] is assigned “Feminism and music” and “Sex in music,” but not “Gender identity in music” despite the term gender in the title. The rules governing subject heading assignment are not always apparent to the user. Researchers should take note and make use of the large red volumes that make up Library of Congress Subject Headings, 19th edition, to locate established headings and related terms.


Periodicals that deal primarily with music are also classified in the ML class. Those that cover other subjects in addition to music, such as Rolling Stone, are shelved in the General Collections, with current issues available in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room. Online music periodical indexes are available at the Library and include Music Index (1979- ), International Index to Music Periodicals (1996- ), Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM) (1969- ), and Répertoire International de la Presse Musicale (RIPM), an index of nineteenth-century music periodicals. Print copies of Music Index (ML118.M84) provide coverage of music periodicals dating back to 1949.

A periodical-index card file located at the end of the card catalog provides citations to many older music periodicals not covered in the standard music periodical indexes. Although this card file reflects the somewhat idiosyncratic interests of its time and its compilers, it is invaluable for locating references to articles that otherwise might never be found. The manually typed or handwritten cards index articles about musical topics from a variety of music periodicals dating from the late nineteenth century to around 1940. A search under “women” reveals more than one hundred cards on topics related to women and music. Here are citations to “The New Woman in Music” from The Music Student of 1911-12; “Should We Have Women in Our Symphony Orchestras?” from a 1913 issue of Jacob's Orchestra Monthly; and an article by the composer Amy Beach in a 1918 issue of Etude titled “To the Girl Who Wants to Compose.”6

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