Music & Dance Reference


Discography is a relatively new form of bibliography that specifically concentrates on sound recordings. As with bibliography, a discography’s content depends entirely upon the author’s scope and purpose. Many discographies commonly narrow their scope to a select point of focus, such a composer, performer, record label, genre, geographic location, or medium. Some discographies aim to be comprehensive and include historical records alongside contemporary ones, while others list only recordings regarded as the most important, interesting, or what is commercially available. With the widespread distribution of video recordings and video-recorded performances, videographies or filmographies are also becoming increasingly common.

Because discography is such a comparatively young discipline, the organization and bibliographic details of these sources are consequently less standardized than one might find among reference works in other categories. For example, entries may be organized within the book in any number of ways, such as by label number or title. As for individual entries, users can usually expect to find the following types of information: record label, record label number, format, duration, lists of performers, date of recording, contents list. Annotations are also common.

The Library of Congress assigns discographies call numbers usually within the range of ML 156-158. Within this classification, the following divisions are observed:

– ML 156.2 are for label-specific discographies, or individual library/archive holdings.
– ML 156.4 are for for topical discographies such as for instruments, genres, etc.
– ML 156.5 are composer discographies.
– ML 156.7 are performer discographies.

Selected Examples:

Bolig, John Richard. Caruso Records: A History and Discography. Denver, Colorado: Mainspring Press, 2002.

Frasier, Jane. Women Composers: A Discography. Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography 50. Detroit, Michigan: Information Coordinators, 1983.

Gruber, Paul, ed. The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

Kozinn, Allan. Classical Music: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings. The New York Times Essential Library. New York: Times Books, 2004.

Laubich, Arnold. Art Tatum, a Guide to His Recorded Music. Studies in Jazz 2. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1982.

Lynch, Richard Chigley. Broadway on Record: A Directory of New York Cast Recordings and Musical Shows, 1931-1986. Discographies 28. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.

Ruppli, Michel. The Decca Labels: A Discography. 6 vols. Discographies 63. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Sutton, Alan. Edison Blue Amberol Records: A Discography (1912-1929). Mainspring Reference Guides 2. Denver, Colorado: Mainspring Press, 2005.

Wright-McLeod, Brian. The Encyclopedia of Native Music: More Than a Century of Recordings from Wax Cylinder to the Internet. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2005.