Skip to Main Content

Music : Search Tips

This guide lists useful resources for students across all music courses.

This page provides some tips around searching for resources, particularly through the library's search tool, FindIt.

1. Forming a search query
2. Using FindIt
3. Specific search queries
4. How to browse

1. Forming a search query

When you look for information you form a search query, usually by using a keyword or combination of keywords. The search query is what you put into a search engine, whether that's on the web, FindIt or on a database. The below tips are handy for all three information sources.


  • Use the terminology your lecturers use
  • Check your textbooks for definitions of terms
  • Try lots of different keywords - brainstorm and think of many different ways of saying the same thing.


  • Can you think of ways to make your search more specific? (eg: by adding keywords, restricting results by location or year published)
  • Can you think of ways to make your search more broad? (eg: fewer keywords, less specific keyword)
  • Hint: It can be useful to start broad when you are not sure about your research question.

3. Specific search queries

Specific search

The default search on FindIt is by keyword. However, if there's a particular author you're after, you can search by author:Screenshot of FindIt search. Author field is selected, search terms included in search box are Toop, David.

Or by title:

Screen shot of a FindIt search, The title field is selected, the search box contains "Haunted weather: music, silence and memory"

Remember, you can always use the Advanced Search to create a specific search query. However, you can always filter your search results after you have retrieved the results as well, for example by resource type, year or date range, location.

2. Using FindIt

When you go to the library website, you will find a search box that looks like:


Details of all the library resources, both physical and digital, are retrievable through the various tabs and links on this box.

FindIt gathers results from all the physical library resources, eJournals and eBooks, as well as many of the databases. If you select the various tabs to the right, you can restrict your search just to items that are 'On the shelf' (that is, physical library resources), just eJournals or just eBooks. You can also browse the databases by clicking on the Databases A-Z link.

4. How to browse


Sometimes it can be difficult to start the search for information for an assignment. Remember that you can always browse by subject or topic. You can do this in a couple of ways: by subject heading or by call numbers (only applicable to print books and physical library resources). Remember you can filter these results even further in order to make your search more specific.

Subject Headings Call Numbers

Composition (Music)
Digital audio editors

Electronic music

Improvisation (Music)

     Jazz--Instruction and study
Music--Acoustics and physics

Music--Data processing

Music education

Music theory
Music theory--Mathematics
Music trade

Piano music

Popular music
Popular music--Political aspects
Popular music--Production and direction
Sight-reading (Music)

Sound--Recording and reproducing
Sound--Recording and reproducing--Digital techniques

Sound recordings--Production and direction

Vocal music

394.2 Event management
621.38 Audio technology
780 Music
780.23 Music business
780.283 Music production
780.9 Music history
780.92 Life & works of individual composers
781 Music, General principles
781.3 Composition
781.42 Songwriting
781.423 Sight-reading
781.424 Aural, ear training
781.43 Musical performance
781.49 Sound recording
781.54 Film music
781.64 Popular music
781.65 Jazz music
784 Vocal music
785 Orchestral music
786 Piano & organ
787 Stringed & bowed instruments
788 Wind instruments
789 Percussion, mechanical & electronic instruments

Hint: if you've found a great resource, check out the subject headings or call number attached to that resource - it can be a great way to find related content.