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.Music Subject Guide

Recommended library and web resources for the study of music.

Nebulous names

Name searching can be challenging in a few instances that come up frequently in music research. 

  • The written form of the person's native language uses characters other than the Roman alphabet that English uses. 
  • Common names that can be confused with other people
  • Variations of names used over a lifetime
  • Names that don't conform to the {first name + last name} structure standard in most of the western world. 

Databases such as Primo, Worldcat, and Music Index use a standardized name form to simplify searching. To search by a standardized name:

  1. Do a general keyword search. Your initial results will likely be a mix of relevant and false hits. 
  2. Open the full record for one of the relevant hits, and find a text string that seems to match the target person. It might include life dates or sometimes a qualifier.
  3. Re-do the search using the standardized name.  
Examples of moving from initial keyword search to a standardized name search
Original keyword search Primo & Worldcat use the same standardized names Music Index
hildegard bingen Hildegard, Saint, 1098-1179. HILDEGARD, Saint, 1098-1179.
kurupt Kurupt (Rapper) KURUPT (Performer)
Hsien Hsing-hai Xinghai Xian, 1905-1945 XIAN Xinghai
john williams guitar Williams, John, 1941- WILLIAMS, John (not disambiguated)
Mrs. H.H.A. Beach Beach, Amy, 1867-1944 beach, amy marcy cheney

Books about a composer and scores by or recordings of the person's music will use the standardized name. However, articles that you find through Primo and Worldcat are not fully cataloged and do not have the standardized names.