RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is a global bibliography of writings on music dating back more than 60 years. While some full text resouces are available, RILM is primarily useful for searching the abstracts of a wide-ranging catalogue of articles across multiple languages. You’ll find abstracts from journals and magazines from six continents.

Abstracts are a brief summary of the contents of a piece of work, often just one or two paragraphs long. This means that browsing abstracts can be a great way of quickly identifying a range of sources for your research topic, without having to read an entire book or article. Coverage includes academic and popular press articles, as well as reviews, obituaries, editorials, and news.

Most search results from RILM will have an abstract, but you can also check the ‘Abstract Available’ option at the left of the screen when looking through your search results:

The 'Limite To' options from RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, with the 'Abstract Available' option checked.

As RILM is an international database, many of the results will be in languages other than English, and some texts will have abstracts in multiple languages. To specify the language(s) you would like to read, use the selection menu on the left of the screen:

A language selection menu from RILM.

If you find a book or article that you think will be useful, you will have two options to access the full text:

  • If RILM has the full text available, click the ‘PDF Full Text’ link to open the document.
  • If the full text is not available directly through RILM, click the ‘Full Text via LibKey Link’ option. This will search for the text in the library catalogue and provide you with a range of options.

Note that we do not hold every book or journal listed in RILM, so it may be necessary to request the full text of a piece via inter-library loan instead.

For help with using RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, book an appointment with your subject librarian.

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