The subject of women in music is a diverse and far-reaching discipline. Therefore, when thinking about women's contributions to music it is important to recognize the many differences among women. Women from different classes and races, different places and historical periods have different experiences expressing themselves through music. Yet women are linked by the way in which society constructs an identity for them because of their gender, and by the boundaries and expectations that society creates for their participation in musical life.
Women have participated in music throughout history though their involvement has all too often been forgotten. Remembering and acknowledging their achievements can enrich our understanding and bring us to a clearer picture of the history of musical endeavor. This pathfinder is a tool which aims to facilitate such an understanding, particularly for an audience of people with little or no formal training in music.
This pathfinder is primarily designed to assist those researchers outside of the field of music find their way around standard music resources. Students and faculty in History, Anthropology, English, and Sociology and related programs in cultural studies will find this pathfinder a useful introduction to basic music sources as well as a pointer to more specific aspects of women and music. This guide may also be useful to those students and faculty in the Music curriculum who would like to integrate more information about women in their research and teaching. It can also provide an introduction to the resources available locally for incoming students and newly hired Duke faculty interested in this area of study and teaching. Although this pathfinder is specific to the music resources available at Duke, it may prove useful to others outside of the Duke community, since many of the sources listed here will be available throughout other libraries.
The bulk of the material available on women in music at Duke University is located in the Music Library, and so a general overview of the Library's set-up is given below. Perkins Library, which is the main library at Duke, along with several branch libraries, such as Lilly Library, the Divinity School Library, the Rubenstein Library all have texts crucial to this pathfinder as well. And so, to prevent any confusion, the library where a given item can be found is listed in front of its call number.
The materials listed in this pathfinder are divided into a general introduction to resources followed by specific listings grouped according to musical genre. Each genre section is further divided into texts, sound recordings, scores, videos and archival collections or a subset thereof. The size of these sections is roughly proportional to the breadth of the collections at Duke and should give researchers an idea of what they will find. Also included is a list of resources beyond Duke, available from Duke via telecommunications, on the topic of women in music.
The history of women's work as composers and musicians tells a story of perseverance in the face of widespread belief that writing and performing music was simply not something that women should or could do. Similarly doing research in the field of women in music is challenging and will require persistence. But, many treasures await the industrious researcher at Duke and beyond.
This bibliography has been prepared based on the sources available in the Duke University Libraries System. Many of the titles listed in this pathfinder may be available in your own local public or university library (although the call numbers listed may not work in your library). If a particular title is not available in your local library, ask your reference librarian to order it for you through the Inter-Library Loan system.
Compiled November 1995 by Laura Micham.
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