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Categories: Audio - Music

People are interested in music; they switch their ringtone to a favorite tune, load their smartphone with thousands of songs, and download and purchase digital music online. They know where to find music downloads or catch the latest music videos. The auditory sensory channel is very powerful.

nativeMusic can set the mood. Almost everyone is a music consumer. Music is ever-present. One can hardly imagine a commercial, movie, or play without some type of music.

When people think of music, rap, hip hop, country, or other popular styles may come to mind. However library users may find other lesser known styles equally interesting. Folk music, swing, jazz, classical, and music of various cultures are interesting to explore. They provide opportunities for library users to experience a wide range of music without the need to make personal purchases.

Use this course as an opportunity to explore music you may not have considered in the past. For instance, Jack Gladstone is an award-winning Native American - German singer and songwriter. His songs provide great connections to American history on topics such as the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Louisiana Purchase, and Hudson Bay Company.

Music Genres

From western swing to new age, the styles and options for musical enjoyment are endless. Although everyone has personal preferences, it's surprising how easy it is to get caught up in a popular tune. Remember the TV show "Name that Tune"? Get out the karaoke player and have some fun. Then, check out each of the following areas. Within each, examples have been highlighted as examples of the style. Links have been made to Amazon.com because they provide great sample clips. There are many other websites that also provide sample clips for music preview.

Whether seeking information about musicians or clarifying understandings of a certain music genre, a good starting place for music information is Oxford Music Online (IUPUI has a subscription).

The list below includes only a few of the many music genres librarians are likely to encounter in their work. Knowing the basics of each genre is useful in providing advisory services.

Big Band. Big band music emerged out of Jazz and the swing era of the 1920s. Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Woody Herman were all known for their great Big Band sounds. Learn more at Wikipedia: Big Band.

Blues. Originating in the late 19th century, this genre was developed by African Americans in the Deep South. Combining work songs, folk music, and spirtuals, the genre has influenced many other genres. There are a wide range of blues music including Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, and Texas Blues. Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan are a few popular artists. Learn more at Wikipedia: Blues.

Want to learn more? Browse The Blues from PBS.

Classical. Rooted in the traditions of Western music, the classical genre includes both religious and secular music. While the "classical period" took place in the late 18th century, the term classical music is associated with music with origins back to the 11th century. Learn more at Wikipedia: Classical.

Country. With roots in folk, blues, and traditional music, country music emerged in the southern United States in the 1920s. Today the music incorporates elements from many different genre and subgenres can be found throughout the world. While contemporary country music has become a very popular genre, traditional country, bluegrass, folk, and international folk are closely associated. Learn more at Wikipedia: Country.

Disco. Elements of soul, pop, funk, and salsa were combined in the 1970s for the dance music known as disco. Learn more at Wikipedia: Disco.

Folk. The origins of folk music date back centuries. Folk music is often associated with world music. While some people focus on the traditional music side of the folk genre, others stress it's evolution during the 20th century. In the 1940s through the 1960s, develoepd with musicians such as Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Burl Ives. Contemporary folk music or folk revival became popular with groups like The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, and The New Christy Minstrels. Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary were also popular in the 1960s. John Denver, Joni Mitchell, Gordan Lightfoot, and others kept the music popular through the 1970s when fusion genres such as folk rock emerged. Learn more at Wikipedia: Folk.

annetteAnnette's Reflections
John Denver and summer vacations to Colorado are probably responsible for why I live in Utah today. Rocky Mountain High...

What music do you enjoy?

Heavy Metal. With roots in rock, heavy metal emerged in the late 1960s with band like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple. Variations continue to be popular. Learn more at Wikipedia: Heavy Metal.

Hip Hop. Hip Hop music formed in the 1970s. While it began with rap music, it quickly became an entire subculture rooted in funk, disco, electronic, R&B, jazz, raggae, and rock. Learn more at Wikipedia: Hip Hop.

Jazz. Ragtime, boogaloo, and bebop are just a few of the cool styles of jazz music. Jazz emerged in the late 19th century in the United States. Essential artists include John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, and Cassandra Wilson. A new wave of jazz by artists like Harry Connick, Jr., Dave Koz, Norah Jones, and Diana Krall are found popularity in the past twenty years. Derivative forms include funk, hiphop, and reggae. Learn more at Wikipedia: Jazz and Wikipedia: Ragtime.

Want to learn more? Browse Ken Burn's Jazz from PBS.

New Age. With origins in electronic music, folk, classical, world, and progressive rock, this genre is often associated with a subculture focused on spirituality and artistic expression. With roots in the 1960s and 1970s, it became popular in the late 1980s and 1990s. Artists including George Winston, R. Carlos Nakai, Kitaro, and Enya fall into this genre. Progressive electronic groups like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis became popular in the 1980s and continue to develop their own albums as well as a movie scores. Learn more at Wikipedia: New Age.

Opera. In some areas, opera has a strong following while in other locations there may be little interest. One way to promote opera is by combining audio titles with video and books. For example, EMI Classics produce books that contain compact discs. Users can read the history of the opera and follow the script as they listen in both the native language and English. The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is part of this Black Dog Opera Library series. Learn more at Wikipedia: Opera.

Pop. Popular music has its origins in rock and roll as well as folk music. Often considered a softer version of rock, it often combines country, dance, rock, Latin, urban, and other genres of music. There is some debate about whether it's actually a separate genre or really a fusion of others. Learn more at Wikipedia: Pop.

Rhythm & Blues. With roots in Negro Spirituals, gospel, jazz, and blues, Rhythm and Blues combines many styles together. Originating in the 1940, it was marketed to appeal to urban African Americans. James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Drifters, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Barry While are a few of the people know for their R & B. Groups like the Temptations became popular in the 1960s and continue to be popular. Learn more at Wikipedia: Funk, Wikipedia: Soul, Wikipedia: R&B

Rock. Emerging out of the "rock and roll" music of the 1950s in the United States, this is a form of popular music with origins in blues, folk, and country music. As it developed, elements of jazz, classical, and other genres were also incorporated. Over the past fifty year, many subgenres have emerged such as hard rock, heavy metal, new wave, punk, progressive rock, and others. Fusion genres include folk rock and country rock. Learn more at Wikipedia: Rock.

Swing. Swing emerged in the 1920s out of the jazz style. Electro swing is a fusion genre and Western swing is a regional offshoot. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Indigo Swing, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra brought in a new wave of interest in swing during the 1990s. Learn more at Wikipedia: Swing.

World Music. World music incorporates many music genres born within indigenous cultures around the world. Learn more at Wikipedia: World Music.

Children's Music

Children's music is designed specifically for a youth audience. Both the lyrics and composition are written with children in mind. The music is also performed for a youth audience.

In the late 19th century, the first recorded music for children was produced. However, this category of music became popular in the 1930s as the market for recorded music grew. By the mid-20th century, singers such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Ella Jenkins were popular with children. Peter, Paul, and Mary along with other folk musicians increased the popularity in the 1960s. By the late 60s and early 70s, Sesame Street, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and other public television shows began promoting educational albums for kids. Schoolhouse Rock contributed to this movement.

annetteLamb Reflection
While growing up, I nearly wore out my Mister Roger's Neighborhood record album. Do you know the song "You Are Special"? Mister Rogers "likes me just the way I am." Check out You Are Special at PBS Kids.

What did you listen to or watch as you were growing up? What impact did it have on your life?

Classics. Free to Be... You and Me by Marlo Thomas is a classic example of a children's album that made a lasting impression. Schoolhouse Rock is another. The latter is based on forty-one, three-minute educational cartoons developed between 1973 and 1985.

Children's BooksFarkle and Friends by John Lithgow is one of many CDs that are spin-offs of books.

Children's Movies. Ask a group of children, or even adults to hum or sing a Disney song and you may get dozens of different replies from Jungle Book and Mary Poppins to Lion King and Frozen.

Children's TV. Music from popular television programs are very popular with children. The television sounds tracks are popular with children.

Singers. Canadian singer Raffi has been entertaining children since the 1970s with fun musical arrangements and vocals. He encourages children to sing, dance, and play. Tom Chapin uses a combination of rock. jazz, blues, and folk to entertain children. Australia's Wiggles entertain preschoolers. Folk Songs are always popular with children including songs by Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Peter, Paula, and Mary, and Pete Seeger. Children are still singing "This Land is Your Land". Listen to this Woody Guthrie classic on YouTube.

Babies. There are even CDs designed to be played to pregnant women and newborns including lullaby collections, classical music, and songs with babies in the title.

Musical Styles. Children's versions of classical, jazz, and other popular musical styles can be found. For example, Peter & the Wolf and Nutcracker are favorites of children. Country Goes Raffi is a country album by Raffi.

Learn more at Wikipedia: Children's Music.

Religious Music

Like children's music, religious music crosses genres. Although music can can found in religions from around the world, Christian music is most popular in the United States.

Contemporary Christian. Sometimes called CCM, artists such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Rich Mullins, Jaci Velasquez, and Steven Curtis Chapman provide a mixture of pop and rock for Christian audiences. Christian artist collections provide a good way for listeners to identify those singers they wish to explore further.

Christian Alternative Rock. Dance music, heavy metal, rap, and punk are all styles not normally associated with Christian music. However a growing number of young people are embracing artists who blend hot sounds with Christian themes.

Gospel. From choir music to jubilee singing, gospel's uplifting spirit is a part of the Christian tradition. Many mainstream artists started or have moved into gospel from other areas. For example, Aretha Franklin released Amazing Grace. MXPX are a contemporary gospel group, while the Dixie Hummingbirds are a traditional gospel group.

Learn more at Wikipedia: Christian Music.

hamiltonMusical Showtunes

From New York, New York to And All That Jazz, Broadway hits are some of the most recognizable songs in the music collection. Rodgers and Hammerstein's many musicals include OklahomaSouth Pacific, and the King and I. Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway hits include songs from The Phantom of the OperaCatsEvita, and Joseph to name a few. Recently, Hamilton has become popular.

There's always a controversy when music works are produced. Some people prefer the Broadway version while others like the movie. For example, I wanted Madonna's version of Evita and Donny Osmond's version of Joseph. Some people prefer the video version of Fiddler on the Roof or Grease while others like the music.

Although some people enjoy collected works such as the Tony winners collections, others enjoy listening to the entire show.


Can you hum the theme to Star Wars? Do you know the theme to Friends or The Big Bang Theory? Most people immediately hear these songs play in their minds. Soundtracks may include a broad range of musical styles.

Movie soundtracks. Movie scores have become so much a part of culture that you may not even realize how many songs you know. For example, many people enjoy the music by Vangelis from Chariots of Fire or Somewhere in Time even if they haven't seen the movie or know the names of the movies associated with the music.

Since the advent of the Academy award for best song and score, music from movies have been popular. Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz are two early examples. Sometimes the entire soundtrack is popular while at other times, a single hit emerges such as Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate or Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Musicals have natural soundtracks. For example, Frederick Loewe brought us Paint Your WagonMy Fair LadyGigiCamelot, and Brigadoon. Even young people who never saw the theatre production or movie know the chorus to Oklahoma or the Do Re Mi song from Sound of Music.

With hits like Star WarsClose Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, the work of John Williams really brought soundtracks into the area of popular music. The work of John Barry in Out of AfricaThe Piano with Michael Nyman, and English Patientwith Anthony Minghella have made many lasting impressions. Recently popular composers such as James Horner with Titanic, Danny Elfman with Spiderman and Hans Zimmer with Gladiator and Pearl Harbor have gained attention.

Collected works are a good way to enjoy many of these soundtracks. For example, you can get a collection of all the Academy Award Songs in a set of CDs.

The soundtrack to the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? became even more popular than the movie. Soundtracks are becoming increasingly popular as producers focus on new ways to market their movies. For example, Moulin Rouge contained songs originally popularized by Sting and Elton John.

Many soundtracks such as Top Gun and Flashdance reflected the popular music of their time. Others include Saturday Night FeverTommyPulp Fiction, and the Big ChillStand By Me and American Graffiti brought back the music of the early 1960s.

Television Soundtracks. How many television show theme songs can you sing? How about Gilligan's IslandBeverly Hillbillies, or Brady Bunch? Can you hum the soundtrack to Star TrekHawaii 5-0 or Twilight Zone? How about CSI and Spongebob SquarepantsFriends, and Ken Burn's Jazz or The Civil War from PBS are a few television programs with popular soundtracks.

Videogame Soundtracks. Increasingly, the sound tracks of video games are gaining in popularity.

To learn more, go to Wikipedia: Soundtrack.

annetteAnnette's Reflections
I will admit to being a television theme geek. Sometimes, I can't get the theme song of my mind. Check out a few of my favorites from my growing up years in the 1960s.
Beverly Hillbillies theme on YouTube.
Daniel Boone theme on YouTube.
Gilligan's Island theme on YouTube.
Green Acres theme on YouTube.
Bewitched on YouTube.
Mr. Ed on YouTube.
Bonanza theme on YouTube.
Star Trek theme on YouTube.
Monkees theme on YouTube.
Can you build your own list of favorite TV themesongs?
What are your current favorites? Mine is the Big Bang Theory theme on YouTube.

Special Topics

Some people enjoy listening to music related to the season. It's easy to find Patriotic music for Independence Day, spooky music for Halloween, and a wide range of Christmas music. However some libraries like to highlight music for other times of year such as Irish music on St. Patrick's day or love songs on Valentine's day.

Wedding Music. What would a wedding be like without music? People enjoy listening to wedding music. Whether it’s a bride-to-be planning a wedding or a drama club exploring music for their play, there’s always a need for wedding music audio materials.

Karaoke. Many people enjoy singing along with music. Karaoke audio provides the background music, while people sing along. Topics including party classics, Broadway, oldies, country, and many more.

Other Interesting Requests. It’s Friday night and the big game is on Saturday. We need the school fight song! There are a variety of college fight song music sources.

Try It!
High school and college "fight songs" or "team anthems" bring back memories. Go to Fight Music and listen to your favorites.

annetteAnnette's Reflection
I began playing the trumpet in elementary school. I have fond memories of playing Urbandale's Confidence Fight Song in the band through high school and singing the Iowa State University Fight Song in college.

What's your favorite fight song? What memories does it bring back?

Digital Music

Fans of all types of music can download or stream their favorite tunes from the Internet. This has caused excitement, but also controversy. Many artists like the ability to share their music with the global audience, while others fear that web sharing will reduce profits from sales.

Some school libraries block music downloads regardless of the intended purpose. Librarians can usually make specific requests to have a site or sites unblocked.

On-demand music services are on the rise. Acccording to Nielsen's 2018 Music Mid-Year Report,

on demand

Subscription-based Entertainment Audio

Below are subscriptions commonly found in public libraries through local, regional, or state level access.

Subscription Databases

Below are a few examples of subscription-based music databases commonly found at universities.

try itTry It!
Spend some time exploring each of the subscription-based collections above.
1) Explore what's available and how the service works.
2) Visit your public library online and note what music services are available. If you live in the Indianapolis areas, you have access to Freegal Music and Hoopla.
3) Visit the IUPUI library online and note what music services are available.

Open Access Music for Kids

Open Access Music

Soundcloud Playlists

Unfortunately, not all libraries can afford subscription services. An alternative approach is for libraries to build their own collections based on community interests and needs. Soundcloud is a tool that allows users to create playlists of existing resources.

According to the profile of the Everett Public Library Soundcloud account,

"this profile was set up in order to promote local music to our community. We currently do not have a way to loan mp3s to patrons, so that means that our collection is missing out on a huge amount of music that never gets released on CD. Until we come up for a solution for this problem, keep an eye on this stream (and the acts we follow) to discover local talent. If you are a local band, producer, label, etc., please feel free to follow us and we'll follow back."

Try It!
Explore the Everett Public Library Soundcloud account. Think about how you might use this tool for building your own library playlists.

Live Streaming Music

saavnWhen you think of radio, music immediately comes to mind. In addition to the standards you often find on local stations, streaming radio allows you to branch out. You'll find adult alternative, contemporary, and standards. In addition, look for alternative rock, top 40, classic rock, classical, country, easy listening, jazz, oldies, rock, soft, sports, urban, and variety. For an example, go to Radio Paradise. For lots of examples, go to Shoutcast

Today many of us listen to radio programming on computer via the Internet. Thousands of stations are providing streamed broadcasts. You can access webcast radio that is linked to within the desktop interfaces such as iTunes or stream through a web browser. Some of the services such as Napster provide samples, but require subscriptions for full-access. Services like Spotify provide both a free and subscription-based service. Other services such as Pandora are free. Simple set up a password and get started. It will save preference lists and respond to your interests. Others include Blip.fm.

Read Dover, Rachel (November 17, 2015). Spotify for Libraries: Public Libraries Edge Toward Music Streaming Services. ilivelibraries.

A number of resources focus on specific music types. For instance, Saavn features the latest hindi favorites, Bollywood hits, classics, regional music, and other music of interest to those in India and around the world.

try itTry It!
Explore beyond your normal listening comfort.
Try Pandora or another streaming music service.
Try Saavn or one of the other music services.

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