Music to Your Ears: Full-text RILM Database

Music teachers and scholars of music education would have heard of, or used RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale), a prominent database for music resources.


They may also be happy to know that the NIE Library’s subscription to RILM has been expanded from index and abstracts only to include full-text content.


We reached out to Associate Professor Eugene Dairianathan from VPA to get his views on the resources that are suitable for music research.


RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text is one of the best starting points for students searching for journal articles and literature related to music education. Assoc Prof Dairianathan agrees that it is the ideal resource for "new knowledge construction" in music studies. Not only is it suitable for new students, the wealth of information provided by the database is also relevant to students pursuing graduate education.


Using keyword searches, users can now search for and download full-text articles from this music-specific database in addition to abstracts and indexes. Its full-text content extends to a wide range of disciplines related to music, including musicology, theory and pedagogy, and many more. Based on his own experiences of using this database, Assoc Prof Dairianathan shares that through RILM’s keyword searches, he has discovered studies that add value to Singapore’s music resources retrieved through MusicSG, another important music-specific database.


Content Enhancements

The main enhancement in this upgrade is access to full-text content from over 200 key periodicals on music, many published from the early 20th century to the present. This means that users may now discover full-text of back issues, most of which are not available online elsewhere.


RILM's catalogue of publications available in full-text


Below is a select list of influential scholarly and trade journals in music education where back issues are now available via RILM:

  • Contributions to Music Education. 1977 –

  • Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education. 1992 –

  • Missouri Journal of Research in Music Education. 1962 –

  • Research and Issues in Music Education. 2003 –

  • Journal of Technology in Music Learning. 2001 –

  • The American Music Teacher. 1951 –

  • Choral Journal. 1960 –

So, how relevant are early published content to contemporary research?


Assoc Prof Dairianathan thinks that it would be "a little premature to believe older... journals may not have the same contemporaneity, relatability and relevance with current research". According to him, some of these journals still continue to be "exemplars" as "current research still relies on these prior concerns, if only to draw to attention questions of methodology and applicability".


Other Music Databases

Students and researchers may also find the following music databases useful:


Canadian Music Periodical Index (CMPI) focuses on music journals, newsletters and magazines that cover music-related activities in Canada. Despite its country-specific focus, it contains a sizable number of titles - almost 200 active Canadian publications in music are currently indexed in this database.


MusicSG is a digital archive for music produced or published in Singapore, music composed or published by Singaporeans, and music related to Singapore. Its content includes a variety of multimedia formats, such as tracks, scores, lyrics, research articles, and infographics – complementing NIE Library’s physical collection of Singapore Music Resources. Combined, they make valuable resources for both undergraduate and graduate learners who are looking to build upon their knowledge of local composers and compositions.


Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) focuses on the documentation of musical primary sources worldwide. These include manuscripts or printed music, writings on music theory, and libretti. It is ideal for users whose area of learning or research is in manuscript studies.


Cross-Disciplinary Databases Relevant to Music Research

Other than music-specific databases, NIE Library offers many other databases, a handful of which are cross-disciplinary databases with content relevant to the study and research of music.

It was highlighted to us that JSTOR is one such database where students can discover resources with “complementary connectivities with RILM resources”, especially those who take on inter-disciplinary research areas such as historical studies on music or studies in musical behaviours.


JSTOR (NTU Subscription) is a digital library for scholarly journal titles, books and primary sources. NIE Library currently offers access to the Arts and Sciences I-V Collection, which includes 77 scholarly journal titles in music, as well as over 1,000 academic books on music.


The Academic Video Online database is another resource that was recently expanded to offer cross-disciplinary content. A sub-collection that may be of interest to students in the Visual & Performing Arts programme is the Music & Performing Arts collection.


Academic Video Online (AVON): Music & Performing Arts is a comprehensive video source for the teaching of music and performing arts. From classical music to alternative dance, users can find over 3,900 videos featuring masterclasses, interviews, documentaries and performances to support teaching and research in music.


Start exploring the wealth of music resources by accessing RILM Abstracts of Music Literature With Full Text here.


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