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Diverse Voices in Music Scholarship and Repertoire

This guide provides a first step to research on music from diverse voices.

Tips for Finding Scholars from Diverse Backgrounds

  • Search for scholars of particular university programs or museums, then research their work. For example, if you were looking for Chinese scholars on Chinese music, you might look at the faculty page at Middle Tennessee State University's Center for Chinese Music and Culture.

  • Web search authors.

    • When you are reading a resource, think about whose voices might be silenced or excluded and seek them out. As mentioned before, the point is not to tokenize these scholars--but to understand a topic from diverse points of view and welcome underrepresented voices into the conversation.

    • If you are researching a particular music culture (e.g., Korean Pansori) or identity in music (e.g., women, people with disabilities, etc.), research authors to see if they are part of the community they are discussing. In this way, we can center the voices of those who actually represent their own cultures and lived experience.

  • Find scholars and authors within professional association diversity groups. Many professional organizations have committees, working groups, or pages dedicated to diversity or diverse music/groups. A few groups are listed under "Organizations" below.

  • Do not assume identity based on names. Instead, research the composer and see what you can uncover from their biographical information. If you are looking at an article, you will not be able to tell their background immediately. Research their connection with the music they study/perform/compose and the community they represent.

  • Think of multiple ways to describe the population you are looking for.  The “official” name for groups may have changed over time or have several ways of describing a group of people. Some primary sources may use outdated terms or terms modern scholars consider harmful.  

  • Learn how the library catalog or database describes certain populations in their Subject Headings.  Often the catalog or database will assume whiteness and maleness. They are not described as “White Male Authors”. Conversely, marginalized populations may be separated out in subject headings, and described as “Women Authors” or “African American Authors.” 

Reference Resources

You can find information on specific groups through encyclopedias, dictionaries, and bibliographies. In the library catalog and database, search for a specific identity and music keyword, such as women in music or black composers. Then filter your results to "reference." Here are a few reference works to get you started:

Educational Resources

Below are a few museums and university programs which focus on the music of specific cultures, traditions, and people: