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Music: American Art Song



UCSB only

Oxford Music Online contains Grove Music Online, the most authoritative encyclopedia of music in English.  It also contains over 300 articles from the forthcoming 2nd edition of The New Grove Dictionary of American Music.  Articles on composers contain work lists and bibliographies.  Some articles have been updated from the original print version of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 2nd edition (2001), but many have not, so information and bibliographies may not be up to date. 

New Grove Dictionary of American Music.  4 vols.  1986.  Ref ML101 .U6 N48 1996.  This is the most authoritative encyclopedia of American music.  Articles from the in-progress second edition are being added to Grove Music Online, which will eventually include the entire new edition.

Friedberg, Ruth C., and Robin Fisher.  American Art Song and American Poetry.  2nd ed.  2012.  ML2811 .F75 2012 (on reserve; ask at Arts Library Circulation).  Not really an encyclopedia, but provides commentary on over 40 composers of American art song and the American poets they set.  Check the footnotes for further bibliographic references.


UCSB only

The Music Library has nearly 16,000 CDs and over 27,000 LPs.  You can listen to any of these in the library's listening rooms over stereo speakers.  Use the UCSB Library Catalog to find the CDs or LPs you want, and then request them at the Music Service Desk. 

You can also listen to thousands of recordings from the following two streaming databases.  If you're off-campus, be sure to login first:

Library Tip: Getting Articles

When you find an article you want but you don't see a direct link to it, don't give up!  Click the UC-eLinks icon:

SFX Link

This will give you one or more links to the article if it is available online.  If it's not online, the library may have a print version, so search in the UCSB Library Catalog.  Need help?  Ask a librarian! 

Chicago Manual of Style Online

To access the full text, click the title link below (clicking the cover will take you to Amazon).

UCSB only

Finding Books and Scores

You can find library books for your research in by browsing the library shelves or bysearching the library catalog.

(1) Browse the library shelves

Books on composers and their music are shelved under Library of Congress number ML410, in order by composer.  When browsing, check a book's index and table of contents to locate information on specific works.

(2) Search the UCSB Library Catalog

To find books about a composer and his or her works, do a Subject search on the composer's name:

 Use Advanced Search to find all of the scores of songs by a specific composer (except those in anthologies).  Search for the composer as Author and search for songs as Subject; then select Scores (printed music) from the Limit menu:

To find a score of a specific song, search for the composer as Author, combined with a Keyword search for a word or two from the title; then select Scores (printed music) from the Limit menu:

 Is the book or score that you want checked out?

Click on the call number, then on .  Then click to get the book through Melvyl, the catalog of the combined UC campuses.  You will usually get it in 3-5 days:



Carman, Judith E. et al.  Art Song in the United States, 1759-2011: An Annotated Bibliography.  4th ed.  2013.  Ref ML128 .S3 C37 2013. 

  • Covers a much broader chronological period and includes far more composers than Villamil.  Includes only published songs, though many are out of print.  Information given in each song entry includes poet, publication data, date of composition, key range, tessitura, difficulty, voice type, mood, discographic information, and more.  No bibliographies included in the entires, but there is a general "References" list. 

Clifton, Keith E.   Recent American Art Song: A Guide.  2008.  Ref ML128 .S3 C65 2008.

  • Selective repertory guide for American art songs composed or published after 1980.  Most of the songs included have been published.  Information given for each song includes poet, publisher and year of publication, voice type and range, discography, and brief commentary.  No bibliographies in the entries, but there is a general bibliography.  

Hovland, Michael.  Musical Settings of American Poetry: A Bibliography.  1986.  Ref ML128 .V7 H67 1986.

  • A bibliography of musical settings of 2,400 literary works by 99 American authors.  Lists 5,800 compositions by 2,100 composers; composers are not necessarily American and works include not only art songs but choral music.  Arranged by author, then literary work.  Includes indexes of composers and titles of literary works.

Villamil, Victoria Etnier.  A Singer's Guide to the  American Art Song, 1870-1980.  1993.  Ref ML128 .S3 V5 1993.

  • Covers 144 American composers up to 1980.  Provides more biographical information than Carman or Clifton.  Also includes commentary on the songs, such as influences, style, significance, and interpretative issues.  Includes brief bibliographies and discographical information.

Journal Articles . . . and more

To search for articles on American song, use the following databases:

UCSB only

Music Library

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Library of Congress numbers

Within each number, scores are shelved alphabetically by composer, books by author


  • M1620 - collections of songs by one composer
  • M1621 - separate songs
  • M1621.4 - song cycles


  • ML200 - American music
  • ML200.5 - American music, 20th century
  • ML410 - composer biographies (shelved by composer)

Library Catalogs: Subjects

To find songs in the UCSB Library Catalog or Melvyl, use the following terms for a  Subject search, combined with a composer:

song cycles
songs high voice
songs medium voice
songs low voice
folk songs
spirituals songs

sacred songs

To find settings of a specific poet, do this Subject search:

[poet] musical settings


walt whitman musical settings

Melvyl: UC and beyond

Use Melvyl to search the library collections of the combined UC campuses, which total over 34 million items.  You can also use Melvyl to search libraries worldwide.

UCSB students and faculty can use Melvyl to request books and scores from other UC campuses, including items held by UCSB but checked out. Look for this button:

Requests normally arrive in 3-5 days and may be picked up at the UCSB Library. You can also request books and scores from libraries beyond UC, but they will take longer to arrive.

Music Library Hours

Click here for up-to-date Music Library hours.

You can also find a PDF with current hours at the bottom of that page. Scroll down for Music Library hours. 

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