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ENGL 398A Writing for the Arts

Professional writing for the arts.

Overview

"An international bibliography of nearly 500,000 scholarly writings on music and related disciplines in 140 languages. Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale indexes articles, books, conference proceedings, bibliographies, catalogues, dissertations, festchriften, iconographies, critical commentaries to complete works, ethnographic recordings and videos, reviews and more."

The RILM basic search.

Finding Articles

Here are the results of a search for "bernstein, leonard" narrowed down by language (English):

A list of search results in RILM.

Here is what the detailed view looks like for item number twenty:

An item in RILM.

In the menu on the left, "Linked Full Text" will take you to the full text for this item. This is ideal because it allows you to view the entire result from your computer, but this option is not available for all items. 

A full text result for Bernstein in RILM.

Another feature to note in the menu on the left is the red button that reads "Find @ UMD." Clicking on it performs a search in the catalog and returns the result for that item. From here you can perform tasks like check its availability in the library and request through interlibrary loan (ILL).

The result of clicking a "Find @UMD" button.

 

Subject Headings

The "RILM Abstracts of Music--Subjects" allows users to browse and search RILM's hierarchical subject heading indexing. Users may browse three levels of index term and choose to search terms at all levels.

Subject Headings are basically the "official" terms that the database uses to label the subjects of a given article. Not all articles in the database may be labeled this way, but it certainly helps when you need to make sure that all your results are relevant.

By browsing through, you can kind of deduce how certain topics are labeled. It is not a foolproof method, but it can be quite helpful.

The best way to approach finding relevant subject headings for your search is to do a basic search for the topic that of interest, and then looking at the record(s) that appear to be the most relevant to you.

For example, let us again look at this item:

An item in RILM.

The first subject heading is "politics--Bernstein, Leonard." If we wanted to find more results like this, we would take the first segment, "politics," and add that to our search as a subject, which would retrieve the following results:

A search for Bernstein and politics in RILM.

You could also just click on "politics--Bernstein, Leonard," but that would perform a slightly different search (looking for results that only include that exact strain).

Another good way to deal with subject headings when you know the broader topic is to browse through the Subject Index. To get to it, click on the "Subjects" tab at the top of the search page. Here is what it looks like when we search for "politics:"

A search for politics in the Subject Index in RILM

If we click on the first result, which is the one we want, we can see all of the sub-headings under that heading:

A list of sub-headings under politics in RILM.

Next to some of the headings there are options to "Explode" or "Expand."

  • "Explode" basically means use the heading the way it is. This is good when you want to browse the available literature of a larger area.
  • "Expand" lets you look at even narrower and more specific sub-headings under that particular heading.

This can be useful for approaching a subject from a certain angle, as well as limiting your results in a relevant way. If you realize at this point that these are too narrow, you can use the "Previous Level" button to go back to the broader topic area.

If you want to look for a person as a subject you need to click on the "Names" tab next to the "Subjects" tab at the top of the search screen. The principle behind searching the Names Index is pretty much the same as it is for searching the Subjects Index.

Something to be aware of when you are browsing the Names Index is that the spelling of names that have been transliterated in this database may not match the standard transliterations. One example of this is with the composer "Shostakovich."

If you look for "Shostakovich" in the Names Index, you will come up with no results. In order to find Shostakovich, we have to start by performing a basic search in RILM for "Shostakovich, Dmitri:"

A search for Shostakovich in RILM.

Then pick a high result that seems relevant:

A result for Shostakovich in RILM.

All you have to do is look at the subject headings to figure out how to spell his name. 

The accent marks (or diacritics) do not matter when you are searching the indexes, so you can search for "Sostakovic" in the Names Index and click on the first result to see every sub-heading nested under him:

A list of sub-headings under Shostakovich in RILM.

This type of search can be really useful when you want to make sure that the material that you find is as relevant to the topic of choice as possible. However, not all material that is relevant may be categorized the same way, even if it is dealing with the same subject, so be aware that some relevant results will probably be missing. That said, this can be a useful way of quickly finding material with a close focus on a particular subject.

Index Browsing

Index browsing allows the user to view all values that occur in specified fields in a database, along with corresponding hit counts. Access this feature by looking under "More" at top of the search screen and clicking on "Indexes."

The RILM Index.

Browsable 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 last name first ("Copland, Aaron"). Sometimes, it is most useful to not use a person's whole name, but the shortest version that is 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. To do that, we are going to select "Author" for "Browse an Index and "copland, aaron" for "Browse for."

Using the Index to search for Copland as the author.

After you have checkmarked the items of interest, the "...and add to the search using" 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). Now, you can click "Search."

A list of results after searching for Copland as author.

On the other hand, if you wanted articles or books about Copland, you would select "Subject" for "Browse an Index" and checkmark the items of interest (and remember to check whether the Boolean "AND" or "OR" is being used).

Something to be careful of when doing this is that the search engine 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 tags for all fields included in the browsing feature begin with Z and are listed below:

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

Major Topics

Major topics are like genres. One of the ways that they are useful is that they help subdivide articles into categories. They can be particularly useful when you are trying to research an unusual aspect of a topic (such as if you wanted to analyze the pieces of a jazz composer, or if you wanted ethnographic information on a classical composer).

Let us start by looking at this item again:

A result for Bernstein in RILM.

Its major topic is "29: Western art music--History. 1910 to present (musical life)." If we wanted to find more items with the same major topic, we would add it to the search by typing it in the second search box and changing the field to "MT Major Topics."

Performing a search in RILM using a major topic.

From the Advanced Search screen, you can also select a range of major topics:

Using the Advanced Search to select a major topic.