Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter


FALL 2007

Subject Area Highlight: Music

Bach and the Beatles at Boston College Libraries

Whether you are doing research on a “classical” composer or a “popular” band, the BC Libraries have many resources available to you.  The collection includes recordings, scores, journals, books, visual materials, and music databases.  Using Johann Sebastian Bach and the Beatles as examples, this article will highlight some of the many music resources at Boston College Libraries. 



Recordings and Scores

The collection includes thousands of recordings of classical, jazz, popular and world music most of which are on compact disc.  We still have some LPs and a working turntable which will be useful to listen to some of the Beatles recordings which are on LPs.  We also have the Beatles on compact discs.   If you want to listen to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, you can borrow a CD from the O’Neill Library Media Center or you can log onto Naxos Music Library, a classical music listening subscription service with a collection of over 75,000 tracks of music. 


If you would like to read the music or sing along with Bach or the Beatles, you can find the score of the Bach Oratorio (M2003.B12 W44 1961) and the sheet music for the Beatles songs (M1741.18 .B36 1993) in the O’Neill stacks.  The library has the complete works of many classical composers including the 50+ volume set of Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete works.  There are scores for all genres of classical music and sheet music for musicals, folk and popular music including the complete Beatles songs.



There have been hundreds of books written about both Bach and the Beatles and the library has acquired many over the years.  Two of the more recent acquisitions are The Beatles:  Image and the Media (O’Neill Stacks ML 421 .B4 F76 2007) and The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach (O’Neill Stacks ML 410 .B13 J66 2007).  If you would like a concise overview of these artists check Grove Music Online which is a very comprehensive music encyclopedia in English. It has articles on composers, performers, theorists, music publishers, instruments, musical terminology, musical forms, styles, genres, world music and more.   Its focus is primarily on “classical” music, but the coverage also includes jazz and some “popular” music.  For more information on popular music the library has the Encyclopedia of Popular Music (O’Neill Reference ML102 .P66 G84 2006).  This ten volume set includes short articles on 20th Century popular music, including rock, dance, rap and R& B, as well as blues, soul, country and folk. 


Articles and Reviews– Popular and Scholarly

Millions of articles have been written about music.  To help you find the articles you need, the library subscribes to two music indexes: Music Index and the International Index to Music Periodicals.  Together they index more than 1,000 music journals and span more than a century.  The library also has subscriptions to general databases such as Academic OneFile and LexisNexis Academic which cover many music topics. Reviews of recordings can be found in all four of these databases.  For details on how to use these and other sources see the Music Research Guide

Our journal subscriptions include some popular magazines such as Rolling Stone (ML1 .R65X) and scholarly journals such as Early Music (ML5 .E18).  Many of our journals, including Early Music, are available online.  One of the largest collection of music journals online is JSTOR, a digital archive of fully searchable back issues (usually five years or older) of scholarly journals. The archive currently contains more than forty music journals.



Most of the music DVDs and videos are purchased to support music courses.  The library has a large collection of operas on DVD and a good size collection of other performances including some Bach oratorios.   Some other notable titles are Ken Burns’ “Jazz”,  Martin Scorsese’s “The Blues” and a video of the semi-biographical Beatles film, A Hard Day’s Night.  All of these visual materials can be found in the O’Neill Media Center.


I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour of the music collection.  For more detailed information on how to find and use these resources, please see the Music Research Guide or contact me.


Sonia Ensins

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