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This guide provides a first step to research on music from diverse voices. "Diverse" in this guide is defined as voices from underrepresented communities in music literature and scholarship, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; LGBTQ+ folks; Deaf and disabled people; women; international cultures; and music outside of the "Western" tradition. It is not comprehensive and does not attempt to represent every community. Instead, it provides a few research strategies along with some key resources.

It is important while starting such research not to tokenize the musicians and scholars you learn about. Instead, ask yourself why you are looking for these voices. A couple of reasons to seek diverse scholarship and literature include: amplifying underrepresented viewpoints and art; gaining viewpoints different from your own; and gaining a fuller understanding of a musical tradition by studying literature by scholars who represent the community being discussed. Remember these scholars and musicians are all individuals whose contributions should be viewed as such.

Join the Mason Musicians of Color!

The Mason Musicians of Color is a supportive organization for students of color in the music school. Please click here for more information and to join!

General Resources

The following guide created by George Mason University Libraries outlines the research challenges scholars confront while searching for marginalized voices within problematic information systems, illustrates strategies for how to find diverse voices both inside and outside of traditional library systems, and highlights resources that start researchers on their journey:

The following guide provides general information and research resources on anti-Black racism, anti-racist learning and practice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and related activist movements:

Music Literature and Composers

Tips for searching for music by diverse composers:

  • Many articles, dissertations, books, and reference articles compile repertoire lists by composers of specific demographics. Try searching for a particular instrument or genre in the Library Search, along with the identity you are looking for. Here are some example searches:

Flute Music by Women

Latin American Composers

Chinese Art Songs

  • Do a web search for composers of a particular identity, then do some research on that particular person.
  • Search Wikipedia for lists of composers of a particular identity, then research those individuals.
  • Use websites or professional organizations such as those listed below to find particular composers, then research their repertoire.

The following websites provide information on music and composers from underrepresented backgrounds, including BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ composers.


Tips for finding scholars from diverse backgrounds:

  • Search for scholars of particular university programs, 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. Research authors for articles you have already found on your topic to see if they are a part of the community they are discussing. If you are looking at an article, you will not be able to tell their background immediately. Do not assume identity based on names. The best thing to do is research the author and see what you can uncover from their biographical information.  
  • 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.

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 examples to get you started:

Music and Media

Mason Libraries have several databases featuring streaming music from American and international cultures. A few are listed below:


There are many local and national organizations that support  underrepresented communities in music. Other national organizations have committees, pages, and resources for specific communities. Check out your own professional organizations to see if they have such groups or committees. If not, it might be time to start one!

Here are a few examples: