Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Black music encompasses an incredibly rich universe of sound in genres ranging from folk to Western classical to jazz, rock, and hip-hop. This page provides some resources and approaches to exploring that universe. These are just starting places for you to begin to access the wealth of media and writings about Black music.
Approaches to Searching
To locate books about a specific person or topic, use the Subject Search in the OPAL Library Catalog. Each book has been tagged with specific subject headings that describe its content.
Subject headings for groups of people not associated with a nationality are relatively new, and practices are still being worked out. Some headings that have been applied to Black music, though, include:
- African American musicians
- African Americans -- Music -- History and criticism
- Africans -- Music -- History and criticism.
- Blacks -- Music -- History and criticism
- Music -- Africa -- History and criticism
- Music and race -- United States – History
OhioLINK Library Catalog This link opens in a new window
Catalog of books and other materials held in Ohio college and university libraries.
Books and printed music are arranged according to the Library of Congress' Classification System. The library has circulating and non-circulating (reference) collections. Each collection is divided in to three sections.
- M = Printed music/scores (organized by instrument/genre)
- ML = Books about music and musicians
- MT = Books on music theory, pedagogy, and technique
The Jones Music Library has distinct collections for music education and music therapy resources. A complete description of the library's collections may be found here.
There are many online resources devoted to diversity in music. Here are just a few essential ones.
Music Online: Garland Encyclopedia of World Music
A comprehensive online resource devoted to music research of all the world's peoples.
Oxford Music Online
Although OMO (incorporating the Gorve Dictionary of Music) initially focused almost exclusively on Western art music, its focus expanded in more recent editions, and it now provides valuable content across a range of cultures.
Bloomsbury Popular Music
Features a substanital encyclopedia of popular music, the 33 1/3 book series didicated to coverage of rock and pop albums, and schoarly books.
Music Online: African American Music Reference
African American Music Reference will contain 50,000 pages of text and 17,000 pages of liner notes that offers the first comprehensive coverage of blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, slave songs, minstrelsy, rhythm and blues, gospel, and other forms of black American musical expression.
Afircan American Art Song Alliance
Providing information about African American contributors to art song, whether composers, performers, or scholars.
African Diaspora Music Project
Designed to make concert music by Black composers more accessible. Includes biographies of composers and listings for over 2000 works, primarily vocal.
Listings of Black classical composers and performers, and some information on Black classical history.
Black Music History Library
A substantial bibliography of published resources on Black music, arranged into categories.
Institute for Composer Diversity
The ICD maintains databases of diverse composers and their works. You can search by composer identity, instrument, ensemble, and musical grade level.
Naxos Music Library World
Access to all genres of world recordings. Includes labels such as African Music Network, Global Beats, Harmonia Mundi, Shamrock Records and Smithsonian Folkways among others.
Naxos Jazz Library
An adjunct to Naxos Music Library, NJL features 100,000 tracks by acclaimed artist from all corners of the jazz world.