Skip to Main Content

Beyond the Canon: A Guide for Performers and Educators to Find Repertoire from Underrepresented Composers and Overlooked Music

Find Repertoire, Resources, and Teaching Materials Beyond the Canon

Special Collections and Archives

Archives of African American Music and Culture (AAAMC): "The AAAMC supports the research of scholars, students, and the general public worldwide by providing access to holdings which include oral histories, photographs, musical and print manuscripts, audio and video recordings, educational broadcast programs, and the personal papers of individuals and organizations concerned with Black music."

Archives of Traditional Music (ATM): Located in Morrison Hall, a five-minute walk from Cook, the Archives of Traditional Music is an audiovisual archive that documents music and culture from all over the world. Those interested in folk music and music of indigenous people will find much to appreciate at the ATM. With over 110,000 recordings that include more than 3,300 field collections, it is one of the largest university-based ethnographic sound archives in the United States. Collection Highlights

Black Music Collection at Cook Music Library: Established in 1970, this collection of scores, books, and recordings documents all major aspects of Black musical expression, including concert music, jazz, blues, gospel, folk, and popular music. Collection items are shelved within general circulation at Cook Music Library and can be searched on IUCAT with the local subject heading, Black Music Collection.

Latin American Music Center (LAMC): Can search scores in IUCAT with the subject heading, Latin American Music Collection. Or, in IUCAT, use keywords for your genre (songs, string quartets, cello sonatas, etc) and using the left-side menu, limit your results by clicking Collections - Cook Music Library (IUB) - Latin American Music Collection

Lilly Library: Known for its impressive collection of rare books and manuscripts, Bloomington's Lilly Library also houses more than 120,000 pieces of sheet music in several named collections. The Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music, containing some 24,000 items, is fully-searchable through the IN Harmony Portal, while the larger Starr Sheet Music Collection remains a work in progress. Beyond sheet music, many manuscripts and books of music and pertaining to music dating back to the Middle Ages can also be viewed at the Lilly.

Tischler Collection of Israeli and Jewish Composers: can be searched on IUCAT with the local subject heading, Alice and Hans Tischler Collection.


Print Reference Materials

These and other print volumes are located within the Reference Stacks on the first floor of the Cook Music Library across from the Circulation Desk, or, on the 3rd floor in regular stacks. Links to IUCAT records and call numbers are provided for each physical book.

Encyclopedia of Native American Music in North AmericaML102.N37 K45 2013. "Documents the surprisingly varied musical practices among North America's First Peoples, both historically and in the modern context. It supplies a detailed yet accessible and approachable overview of the substantial contributions and influence of First Peoples that can be appreciated by both native and nonnative audiences, regardless of their familiarity with musical theory."

Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians / ML105 .S67: Compiled by Eileen Southern in 1982, this volume includes brief biographies of approximately 1500 musicians of African descent. It spans genres, focusing on what Southern calls the "oneness" of Black music and its practitioners' refusal to fit cleanly into conventional categories. Additional sources and references to discographies are also included.

Contemporary Composers / ML105 .C675: This thousand-page volume edited by Brian Morton and Pamela Collins with a preface by Brian Ferneyhough contains entries on numerous composers active in the early 1990s when it was compiled. Each entry includes a brief biography, publisher name, list of compositions, and citations of publications by and about the composer. A circulating copy is also located in the third floor stacks.

Encyclopedia of African American Music / ML101.U6 E53: Released in 2011, this three-volume encyclopedia from editor Emmett G. Price III contains entries on people and topics related to African American music. Reading entries and browsing lists can introduce you to new names and terms to explore further. An impressive Timeline of Significant Moments in African American Music precedes the entries themselves. 

International Dictionary of Black Composers / ML105 .I5: This two-volume set edited by Samuel A. Floyd Jr. includes brief biographies, lists of works, publication citations, photographs, and interpretations of select works for numerous composers of African heritage. Not limited to African American composers, it also includes entries on Black composers working in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and other parts of the world.

Latin Music: Musicians, Genres, and Themes / ML101.L38 L37 2014: This two-volume encyclopedia edited by Ilan Stavans contains entries on many people and topics related to the music of Latin America. There are entries on composers like Tania León and Paquito D'Rivera as well as on genres, both classical and popular. Reading entries and browsing lists can introduce you to new names and terms to explore further.

Women in Music: An Encyclopedic Bibliography / ML105.H67 W6: Compiled by Don L. Hixon and Don A. Hennessee and published in 1993, this two-volume set alphabetically lists women composers, performers, and music scholars across time, genres, and geographical regions. Brief citations include single-sentence biographies, birth and death dates, any alternate names, and sources where additional information can be found.

Other Local Resources

Jacobs School Ensembles: Ensembles across campus are actively performing music by underrepresented composers. Your participation in these ensembles or attendance at their concerts can be a great way to learn unfamiliar music. Among local ensembles, be sure to check out the Baroque and Classical Orchestra, Latin American EnsembleMariachi Perla del Medio Oeste, New Music Ensemble, NOTUS Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, and others.