Dissertations in the field of music can be searched by subject or title using a number of resources
in the Sibley Music Library. This guide lists the possible ways to find citations, followed by the
ways to obtain the actual dissertations.
1. Dissertation Abstracts.
This comprehensive collection of citations with abstracts for dissertations in several fields, from
many—but not all—doctorate granting institutions, exists in several formats.
The easiest and most efficient way to use it is through FirstSearch, a user-friendly way to access a
variety of databases, one of which is Dissertation Abstracts. Eastman faculty, staff, and students
may access this service free of charge, (subsidized by the Sibley Library) from any University of
Rochester PC. The easiest way to connect is to go to Voyager, do a title search for “dissertation
abstracts computer”, and click on the link.
Once connected, citations and abstracts for dissertations from 1861 to the present, in any subject,
may be searched by author, title, subject and keywords (among others). This database is also
available on the River Campus via the Rush Rhees Library CD-ROM network.
The Sibley Library received Dissertation Abstracts in hard copy until 1978. These bound
volumes are located in the 3rd floor stacks at ML128 .T41 D61. After January 1978, volumes
were received on microfiche. These are found in the cabinets in the current periodicals reading
area on the 3rd floor with call number Fiche 319.
2. Comprehensive Dissertation Index (CDI)
Comprehensive Dissertation Index: Ten-Year Cumulation, 1973-1982. Vol. 31. Fine Arts, Library
& Information Science, Mass Communications, Music. Ann Arbor : University Microfilms
International, 1979. Ref. Z5053 .C7372
These volumes, shelved in the Reference stacks, give basic bibliographic information on dissertations
from many, but not all doctorate granting schools.
Dissertations may be searched by keywords from the subject or title (n.b. an author’s name cannot be
searched as a keyword).
Separate volumes exist for the periods 1861-1972, and 1973-1982, and annually from 1983 to the
present. These volumes are not cumulative, so each volume needs to be checked for comprehensive
3. Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology
Adkins, Cecil and Alis Dickinson. Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology. Philadelphia: American
Musicology Society; International Musicological Society, 1984. Ref. ML128.M8 D63
Includes finished dissertations, American and Canadian works in progress, and selected European
dissertations since 1972. First volume covers 1972 – 1984. Second series, cumulative, includes 1984-
1995. Superseded by DDM Online (below).
4. Other music reference sources
• Gribenski, Jean. French Language Dissertations in Music: An Annotated Bibliography. NY:
Pendragon Press, 1979. Ref. ML128.M8 .G846
A classified inventory of 438 dissertations from 45 universities in Belgium, Canada, France and
Switzerland, ranging in dates from 1883 to 1976. The annotations are all in French, but the index
is in both French and English.
• Schaal, Richard. Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger musikwissenschaftlicher Dissertationen 1861-
1960. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1963. Ref. ML128.M987 S291 (Also 1974 supplement).
Alphabetical list (by author) of 2819 dissertations (plus 1270 in the supplement).
• There are also numerous guides to dissertations and theses on specific topics, such as American
Music, Canadian Music Education, Igor Stravinsky, etc.
5. Other Online Tools
• Many dissertations and theses are cataloged by their home institution in OCLC (do a title search
in Voyager for “worldcat” and click on the link).
• Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology-Online (DDM Online) is sponsored by the AMS and the
Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature at Indiana University. It is the electronic
version of Adkins (above). In Voyager, do a title search for “doctoral dissertations in musicology
second” and click on the link.
• RILM online also contains many dissertations and theses, with abstracts often submitted by the
authors. Do a title search in Voyager for “rilm” and click on the link.
• A modest list, titled The Archive of Dissertation Abstracts in Music, is maintained by Geoffrey
Chew and is supposed to be a list of dissertations both completed and in progress. Go to
• The Society for Music Theory maintains a database of theory dissertations at their Music Theory
Online site (http://boethius.music.ucsb.edu/mto/docs/diss-index.html), available as plain text from
the MTO fileserver. Send a message to email@example.com, and in the body of the message
include the following two lines:
path YourEmailAddress [replace with your full email address]
Compiled by Phil Ponella, 12/95; Revised 7/97; Revised 3/99 by Jim Farrington