Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music | Alexander Street

Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music

Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music is the first comprehensive online resource devoted to music research of all the world’s peoples. More than 9,000 pages of material and 300 audio recordings, combined with entries by more than 700 expert contributors from all over the world, make this the most complete body of work focused on world music.

Since its first publication in 1997, The Garland Encyclopedia has been the preeminent reference work for research in this area and a favorite of libraries everywhere. It has won numerous awards, including the Dartmouth Medal, the New York Public Library Outstanding Reference Book award, and Library Journal’s award as one of the 50 Reference Sources for the Millennium. Now for the first time, the entire set of ten print volumes is available as a single, integrated online collection, with additional features from Alexander Street.


Scholars and students will be able to browse and search hundreds of articles about the music of every continent. Besides appealing to ethnomusicologists, the accessible writing style will appeal to a much broader audience—with rich content that brings a new dimension to the study of history, sociology, diversity, cultural anthropology, and other disciplines.

The articles, combined with Alexander Street’s deep indexing, powerful search engine, and musically authoritative controlled vocabularies, enable users easily to research musical themes that might otherwise remain buried or unreachable. Users have the full-text reference content at their fingertips, along with new reference tools, including:

  • The full-text of the ten-volume print encyclopedia (more than 700 articles) searchable all together for the first time
  • Associated audio examples
  • Musical illustrations, photographs, and drawings
  • Song texts and score examples
  • Charts and maps of world regions

How will you use it?

Taking the time to study and compare musical cultures throughout the world has always been a painstaking process. Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music lets users do a new kind of cross-cultural and comparative research. Broad musical themes can be explored, and specific, targeted searches can be executed. Answers to questions like these become easy:

  • How are Western musical idioms being transferred and applied to other world societies?
  • What are variants of the classical guitar?
  • What is Indo-jazz and how does it relate to other jazz genres?
  • How does the concept of nationalism in music compare among different countries?
  • Show me examples of improvisational techniques in Hindustani instrumental music.
  • Are there differences in uses of the one-stringed versus the two-stringed zither?
  • Show me examples of the different modes used in Nô (Noh) plays.
  • What is the difference between the agidigbo (the West African lamellophone) and the marímbula (the Cuban lamellophone)?

Subscribers to our online music listening collections can listen to audio examples of music researched in Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. For instance, a user finding an article about the Shona people of Zimbabwe can listen to associated audio recordings in Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries, and soon the linking from one collection to the other will be through a single click.

Publication details

Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music is available on the Web. With 9,000 pages—the complete online version of the print set along with associated audio tracks, musical illustrations, photographs, drawings, song texts, score examples, charts, and maps. Access is either by annual subscription or through one-time purchase of perpetual rights. Prices are scaled to institution size and budget.