Dissertations in the field of music can be searched by subject or title using a number of resources
in the Sibley Music Library. This guide lists the possible ways to find citations, followed by the
ways to obtain the actual dissertations.
1. Dissertation Abstracts.
This comprehensive collection of citations with abstracts for dissertations in several fields, from
many—but not all—doctorate granting institutions, exists in several formats.
The easiest and most efficient way to use it is through FirstSearch, a user-friendly way to access a
variety of databases, one of which is Dissertation Abstracts. Eastman faculty, staff, and students
may access this service free of charge, (subsidized by the Sibley Library) from any University of
Rochester PC. The easiest way to connect is to go to Voyager, do a title search for “dissertation
abstracts computer”, and click on the link.
Once connected, citations and abstracts for dissertations from 1861 to the present, in any subject,
may be searched by author, title, subject and keywords (among others). This database is also
available on the River Campus via the Rush Rhees Library CD-ROM network.
The Sibley Library received Dissertation Abstracts in hard copy until 1978. These bound
volumes are located in the 3rd floor stacks at ML128 .T41 D61. After January 1978, volumes
were received on microfiche. These are found in the cabinets in the current periodicals reading
area on the 3rd floor with call number Fiche 319.
2. Comprehensive Dissertation Index (CDI)
Comprehensive Dissertation Index: Ten-Year Cumulation, 1973-1982. Vol. 31. Fine Arts, Library
& Information Science, Mass Communications, Music. Ann Arbor : University Microfilms
International, 1979. Ref. Z5053 .C7372
These volumes, shelved in the Reference stacks, give basic bibliographic information on dissertations
from many, but not all doctorate granting schools.
Dissertations may be searched by keywords from the subject or title (n.b. an author’s name cannot be
searched as a keyword).
Separate volumes exist for the periods 1861-1972, and 1973-1982, and annually from 1983 to the
present. These volumes are not cumulative, so each volume needs to be checked for comprehensive
3. Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology
Adkins, Cecil and Alis Dickinson. Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology. Philadelphia: American
Musicology Society; International Musicological Society, 1984. Ref. ML128.M8 D63
Includes finished dissertations, American and Canadian works in progress, and selected European
dissertations since 1972. First volume covers 1972 – 1984. Second series, cumulative, includes 1984-
1995. Superseded by DDM Online (below).
4. Other music reference sources
• Gribenski, Jean. French Language Dissertations in Music: An Annotated Bibliography. NY:
Pendragon Press, 1979. Ref. ML128.M8 .G846
A classified inventory of 438 dissertations from 45 universities in Belgium, Canada, France and
Switzerland, ranging in dates from 1883 to 1976. The annotations are all in French, but the index
is in both French and English.
• Schaal, Richard. Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger musikwissenschaftlicher Dissertationen 1861-
1960. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1963. Ref. ML128.M987 S291 (Also 1974 supplement).
Alphabetical list (by author) of 2819 dissertations (plus 1270 in the supplement).
• There are also numerous guides to dissertations and theses on specific topics, such as American
Music, Canadian Music Education, Igor Stravinsky, etc.
5. Other Online Tools
• Many dissertations and theses are cataloged by their home institution in OCLC (do a title search
in Voyager for “worldcat” and click on the link).
• Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology-Online (DDM Online) is sponsored by the AMS and the
Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature at Indiana University. It is the electronic
version of Adkins (above). In Voyager, do a title search for “doctoral dissertations in musicology
second” and click on the link.
• RILM online also contains many dissertations and theses, with abstracts often submitted by the
authors. Do a title search in Voyager for “rilm” and click on the link.
• A modest list, titled The Archive of Dissertation Abstracts in Music, is maintained by Geoffrey
Chew and is supposed to be a list of dissertations both completed and in progress. Go to
• The Society for Music Theory maintains a database of theory dissertations at their Music Theory
Online site (http://boethius.music.ucsb.edu/mto/docs/diss-index.html), available as plain text from
the MTO fileserver. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, and in the body of the message
include the following two lines:
path YourEmailAddress [replace with your full email address]
Compiled by Phil Ponella, 12/95; Revised 7/97; Revised 3/99 by Jim Farrington
Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology began in 1952 as a publication of the Joint Committee of the Music Teachers National Association and the American Musicological Society, chaired by Helen Hewitt. For many years thereafter, Dr. Hewitt maintained and expanded Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology through its second (1957 ), third (1961), and fourth (1965) editions and various supplements for the Journal of the American Musicological Society and the American Music Teacher. Beginning in 1966, Cecil Adkins assumed responsibility for the publication, and under his direction Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology flourished for many years: a fifth edition appeared 1971; in 1977, a new edition appeared as the International Index of Dissertations and Musicological Works in Progress; in 1984, the second international edition returned to the original title Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology, under the co-editorship of Cecil Adkins and Alis Dickinson; and in 1996, the second series, second cumulative edition appeared, once again under the co-editorship of Cecil Adkins and Alis Dickinson. The discipline of musicology remains enormously grateful to these three individuals for their long commitment to Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology.
In the mid-1990s, the Board of Directors of the American Musicological Society decided to move away from conventional publication of Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology in favor of electronic distribution of the information contained in this important and venerable reference tool. The AMS Committee on Technology discussed the issues at its meetings in 1994 and 1995, and a special Committee on DDM (comprised of Professors Thomas Bauman, David E. Crawford [chair], Thomas J. Mathiesen, and John H. Roberts) was eventually appointed to make a specific recommendation to the Board. The committee subsequently endorsed a proposal from the Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum (TML) at Indiana University to develop the online version of Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology, DDM-Online, beginning in the Fall of 1996.
The new office of DDM-Online officially opened under the direction of Professor Mathiesen in September 1996, with preliminary work on the design of the site undertaken during the preceding summer. Records of new dissertation topics and completed dissertations, submitted after the closing date for the publication of the 1996 cumulation of Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology, were sent to Indiana University and entered in the new online resource. Over the years, all the records from the second international edition (1984) and from the second series, second cumulative edition (1996) of Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology were converted, updated, and incorporated into DDM-Online.
Professor Mathiesen served as director of DDM-Online from 1996 to Summer 2009, assisted by Dr. Nicholas M. Butler (1996-97), Professor Andreas Giger (1997-2000), and Dr. Peter Slemon (2000-2009). As Interim Director of the Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature (CHMTL), which provides a home for DDM-Online, Dr. Slemon assumed responsibility for DDM-Online in the Summer of 2009.
In the winter of 2010 the AMS Board of Directors decided to move DDM from the Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature, Indiana University, to the AMS office. In Summer 2010 Durrell Bowman scripted a wide range of search functions and installed DDM on the AMS web site.