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Using RILM

A guide on how to use RILM, a database on scholarly works concerning music.

Search Modes in RILM

Search Modes
There are four basic modes that are available.

“Find all my search terms” is the default mode. In this search, words entered in a single text box are automatically linked by the Boolean style “AND.” This means that the search engine makes sure that all of them are present in the results that it has. Where the word appears in the same area (for example in the title, or the subject, etc.), depends on which types of search you are doing.


“Boolean/Phrase” should be used when you need to do any detailed Boolean searching or exact phrase searching. "Stop words" (which are words that turn up in all records, such as "the" and "a") are ignored when part of phrases being searched.


“Find any of my search terms” – Auto "OR" all search terms entered (e.g. web OR accessibility). This means that within a given text string, the search engine with make sure to find at least one of the words there.


“SmartText Searching” is an interesting option. This search requires you to enter (or copy/paste) a text string of up to 5000 characters (which is between 1-2 pages of single-spaced text). The search engine then ranks the words in the text (depending on things like how often the word shows up), and gives results that are based on what it determined the page was about.

Controlled Vocabulary

Most databases have something that they call "Controlled Vocabulary." This means that there is a particular "correct" word to use in order to get the largest number of related results.

For example, if you needed to find Grieg's "In the hall of the mountain king." This is not actually the controlled name for this piece because the title was originally in another language. So in order to get the most results for it, you would have to do a little investigating to widen the search.

An area to look for information like this is in the "Subjects" field inside a search result. This means that your first search might not be as good as the following ones, but after figuring out what the "official" name for your piece is your results should be more accurate.

This database does have a feature called "apply related words" that you can check in the "Search Options" area, however this is not necessarily helpful when you are working in the music field.