This research guide is available to help users understand the descriptive terms in the Music Division's collection guides and discovery tools: finding aids, digital collections, online catalog records, and card catalog records.
The goals of this research guide are:
The umbrella term for these goals is primary source literacy External.
This guide is organized alphabetically by term. Entries for terms have a combination of the following:
You can browse the guide or jump to a specific term using the linked Index of Terms.
This research guide is not a glossary of music, dance, or theater terms. A selection of the most frequently used terms in Music Division collection guides are included. To learn vocabulary specific to these performing arts disciplines, explore the More Resources page of this guide.
If you have questions about any of these terms or collections, Ask a Librarian!
The Performing Arts Reading Room is the access point for the collections in the custody of the Music Division at the Library of Congress. Numbering approximately 20.5 million items and spanning more than 1000 years of Western music history and practice, these holdings include the classified music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, iconography, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.