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Music Biographies: Encyclopedias

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Online Encyclopedias

Below are a few places you can find definitions and encyclopedia articles; from off campus you will have to login with your myNOVA username and password (the same ones you use to access Blackboard, student email, etc.).

Encyclopedias in NOVA Libraries

Encyclopedias in NOVA campus libraries may include:

The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians Ref ML100 .N48 2001
Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians Ref ML105 .B16 2001
Heritage of Music  Ref ML160 .H527 1990
The Oxford History of Western Music Ref ML160 .T18 2005
New York Philharmonic Guide to the Symphony Ref MT125 .D6x
New Grove Dictionary of American Music Ref ML101 .U6 N48 1986

Why to Use Reference Books

An encyclopedia is a type of reference book. Use a reference book to:

  • Define important vocabulary words related to your topic,
  • Find a basic overview and main issues related to your topic,
  • Find references to additional resources, and
  • Discover important background information related to your topic.

You will typically not use a reference book or encyclopedia as a source in your research.  The information in these sources is for your own background knowledge.

Search Tips

Use broad terms, as encyclopedias usually provide general overviews of topics.


Use quotation marks ( "  " ) around phrases (two or more words); this tells the database to look for the words in a specific order.

"big band"