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Using RILM

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

Indexes in RILM

Index Browsing allows the user to view all values that occur in specified fields in a database, along with corresponding hit counts. Access the index browse feature by looking under the "More" option at top of the Search Screen.

Use the drop-down menu on RILM to choose an index to browse.

Browseable indexes are phrase indexed, the exact form and spelling of terms as they appear in the database must be used in conjunction with the tags when entering a search manually.

Depending on what you are searching for, these can be "Left-Anchored." This means that if you were looking for Aaron Copland, you would have to enter his name last name first ("Copland, Aaron"). In this case sometimes it is most useful to not use a person's whole name, but the shortest version that is not too common.

Once you have figured out what information the Indexes have about the subject you are interested, the system can formulate a search using "Tags." Tags are basically a label that the computer uses to identify what part of the record a piece of information comes from.

An example of this would be if you were looking for someone who both wrote music and also wrote about music.

If you only wanted to get articles and books that Aaron Copland wrote, you could use the indexes to browse for Author (the tag "ZA" is for author) in order to limit the results to literary works that he wrote.

After you have check-marked the items of interest the "Add" function allows you to add it as an "OR" (which will mean that the results might or might not have Copland as the author) or as an "AND" (which means that they definitely will have Copland as an author).

On the other hand, if you wanted articles or books about Copland, you could browse the "Subject" part of the index...

And then check-mark the items of interest (and remember to check whether the Boolean "AND" or "OR" is being used).

One thing to be careful of when doing this is that the search program looks for strings of words that match the quoted words, so in the case of Copland if you just changed the ZA to ZU you might not get the results that you expect (and in fact this particular subject search is better done through the Indexes).


The Indexes available for browsing in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature Database are listed below. This table also includes the "Tags" for all fields included in the index browse feature begin with "Z" (e.g. Tag "ZA" is for Author).

To use these you do have to do a little preliminary investigating to figure out how the word is spelled in RILM. This is pretty easy though! All you have to do is do a very basic search on your person (or topic) of interest.

For example, if you search for Shostakovich, you will discover that the way that this database transliterates his name is "Šostakovič." Don't worry about the accent marks, but make sure you note the spelling or copy/paste it (so you would have to skip the "H"s that we usually use).

You can find this information in a couple of places in the record. You will find it in the "Subjects" and you might also notice it in the "Author" field (depending on the article that you are looking at).


Author ZA
Collected Works ZK
Degree Institution ZC
Dissertation Title ZD
Document Type ZT
ISSN ZI
Journal Title ZJ
Language ZL
Major Topics ZS
Meeting Location ZG
Meeting Name ZQ
Meeting Year ZM
Music Catalogue Number ZN
Place of Publication ZY
Series ZW
Subject ZU
Subject Terms ZE
Year Published/Produced ZR