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Solo Vocal Music Handy Guide: Home

Basic Reference Tools and Journals


The following titles will be useful in tracking down information about the solo voice and its literature.

  • Clifton, Keith E. Recent American art song: a guide. (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2008). Music Reference ML128.S3 C65 2008
  • Coffin, Berton. Singer's Repertoire. Ref ML 128 .V7 C67
  • Coffin, Singer and Delattre. Word-by-Word Translations of Songs and Arias. Ref. ML 54.6 .W65
  • DeCharms and Breed. Songs in Collections: An Index. Ref. ML 128 .S3 D37
  • Emmons, Shirlee, and Wilbur Watkin Lewis.  Researching the song: a lexicon.  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).  Music Reference ML102.S6 E46 2006
  • Espina, Noni. Repertoire for the Solo Voice. Ref ML 128 .S3 E8
  • Espina, Noni. Vocal Solos for Christian Churches. Ref ML 128 .V7 E8 1984
  • Goleeke, Tom.  Literature for Voice. Volume II: An Index to Songs in Collections, 1985-2000.  (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2002).  Music Reference ML128.S3 G644 2002.
  • Hopkin, J. Arden.  Songs for Young Singers: An Annotated List for Developing Voices.  (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2002).  Music Reference ML132.S6 H67 2002. 
  • Kagen, Sergius. Music for the Voice: A Descriptive List of Concert and Teaching Material. (Rev. ed.) Ref. ML 128 .V7 K3 1968
  • Singher, Martial. Interpretive Guide to Operatic Arias: A Handbook for Singers, Coaches, Teachers, and Students. Ref MT 892 .S5 1983


  • The N.A.T.S. Journal
  • Journal of Singing
  • Journal of Voice
  • Opera News
  • Opera Quarterly

Browsing the Music Library's Collection

Because printed music and books are classified--i.e., grouped with similar items on the shelves--browsing can be an effective method for finding material. Look on the shelves under the following numbers.

  • 75.1 = Solo art songs with piano, organ, or continuo 
  • 75.2 = Solo art songs with plectral, harp or guitar
  • 75.6 = Solo art songs with orchestra (scores)
  • 75.7 = Solo art songs with keyboard transcriptions of instrumental or orchestra accompaniment
  • 76 = Ensemble of solo voices
  • ML1400-ML3275 = History of vocal music
  • MT820-MT893 = Instruction, methods

Finding Printed Music, Recordings of Particular Compositions, and Information

Looking for printed music and recorded music:

Many collections, especially those of songs, are not indexed in the computer catalog. The following reference books list individual songs and arias in collections. To find the piece you are looking for, read carefully the introductory explanations in each.

Printed Music

  • DeCharms and Breed. Songs in Collections: An Index. Ref ML 128 .S3 D37
  • Sears, Minnie. Song Index. Ref ML 128 .S3 S31 1966 [Be sure to look in both the main section and the supplement. ]
  • Havlice, Patricia. Popular Song Index. Ref ML 128 .S3 H4 [Also look in the three separate supplements. ]

Do a SUBJECT search in WNCLN's Library Catalog (, using terms found in Library of Congress Subject Headings, e.g.

  • Songs (Medium voice) with piano
  • Sacred songs (High voice) with instrumental ensemble


  • WNCLN's Library Catalog , using TITLE or WORD search.
  • Stahl, Dorothy. Selected Discography of Solo Song. Ref ML 156.4 .V7 S8

Looking for translation of texts, pronunciation, and information on poets

Translation of texts

  • A collection of books for this purpose is found in the following two numbers: Ref. ML 54.6 and Ref. MT 892
  • Translations are often included with recordings. Look for a note mentioning texts in the Appalsource record for the recording.
  • Language dictionaries are shelved in the P classifications, at the end of the reference section.


  • Coffin, Berton, et al. Phonetic Readings of Songs and Arias. Ref MT 883 .C63
  • Find general guides to pronunciation for singing in various languages by doing a SUBJECT search under the phrase "Singing diction" in WNCLN's Library Catalog .

Sources of information on poets

In the Music Library:

  • The collections of song texts and translations in ML 54.6 often provide brief biographical information on poets.
  • The Encyclopedia Britannica often provides biographical information for major poets in Western European languages. Britannica Online (current edition, from A.S.U. Libraries home page, Electronic Resources) or Mus. Lib. Ref. AE 5 .E363 (1956 edition)
  • The few books in ML 79-ML 80 (Music and literature) may have something about selected poets.

Through the WNCLN Catalog:

  • A SUBJECT search for name of composer will allow one to browse through subject listings that may cover such genres as "Songs" or "Vocal music." Items listed in those categories may include discussions of the authors of the texts that the composer set to music.
  • A SUBJECT search for name of poet will list biographies and literary studies. Books in these categories will provide general background, and may also discuss the particular poem you are looking for.

At Belk Library:

  • Biographies of poets and literary studies will be housed at Belk Library or may be requested from UNCA or WCU.
  • Oxford Companions are usually excellent reference tools in every field. The following may be especially useful for finding more information on minor poets, who in some cases are known today more for a particular composer's setting of a text than for their current place in the literary canon. They are housed in Belk Reference:
    • The Oxford Companion to English Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to American Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to French Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to German Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to Spanish Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to African American Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature
    • The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry in English

Online Tools for Research

Subject Guide

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Gary Boye
Erneston Music Library

Appalachian State University
Subjects: Music