Music and art are an experience – how can words adequately characterize or explain them? As a researcher, you might have thoughts along these lines. And while you use academic databases for history or science or economics papers, when it comes to art, maybe you think you’re fine on your own.
Understanding the musical, performance, and graphic arts does indeed rely on your own critical experience more than most disciplines. But it’s an error to think that scholarly resources won’t be of use. The library has many databases for both – from ProQuest Arts for scholarship and criticism in each of these areas to the Naxos Music Library for streaming music. But one critical resource in the arts is Oxford University Press and their battery of encyclopedias, biographies, and other tools.
Oxford Art Online and Oxford Music Online are the best databases to start with, and they offer detailed artist biographies, extensive galleries of artwork (including over 8000 high quality images), and articles on theory, technique, style, and time period. They also have digitized versions of seminal reference texts like Grove Dictionary of Art, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, the Grove Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Companion to Music, and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music.
And soon, these databases will be rolling out a new look, with more powerful searching capabilities and the ability to share what you’re researching with colleagues and friends on social media.
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