Skip to Main Content

How to Navigate Grove Music Online (Oxford Music Online)

A one-stop shop for all your needs on how to access, navigate, and utilize the Grove Music Online (a.k.a. Oxford Music Online) database.

Oxford Music Online

Hello there!

My name is Jesse Agins and I'll be your friendly neighborhood Music Librarian. This Libguide is a tutorial on how to use the Grove Music Online database also known as Oxford Music Online.

Be sure to login with your Rider Key/ID for full access!

What it is: a database mostly comprised of articles and encyclopedic entries used for academic research.

What it is not: a database of music, or performance collection. May I recommend the Naxos Music Library for a collection of recorded music, the Opera Vision database for a collection of recorded operas, or any number of our other Music-Oriented databases that range from the Alexander Street Press for a collection of sheet music to Chorus America which covers all things choral.


Over 57,000 authoritative, peer-reviewed articles on:

  • a wide array of genres of music from antiquity to modernity including emerging genres that are still being studied,
  • musicology and ethno-musicology,
  • music theory and emerging traditions related to classical theory,
  • music criticism,
  • discussions about musical instruments ranging their evolution over time* to how they are built,
  • Also features musical examples, images and/or links to audio or visual examples of music.

* Consider how many "classical" musicians largely never saw a piano in the way that we think about them now, but rather harpsichords or organs.

Key Features:

  • Thousands of encyclopedic entries on a great number of subjects.
  • Rich supporting materials including bibliographies, media, and links to related resources,
  • Powerful search engine with sophisticated filtering options to refine searches (source, type, subject, and availability),
  • Intuitive navigation and options to save, print, or share articles,
  • OpenURL compliance to allow users to query their library catalog and external resources with bibliographic information,
  • Learning resources including subject guides and timelines (which is great for those who desire companion visual aids)
    create part of video reflecting this, where to find them, and how to access them.


*All information taken from Oxford Music Online.

The Quick Search options and Browse functions Grove Music Online offers are: 

  • A quick search bar in the top right of the home page in which one would type their topic of inquiry (e.g., Beethoven, the Lute, music theory).
  • Likewise one can browse by point of interest in the site header across the top of the screen (e.g., topic, instrument, era, region, place type, and occupation). 
  • Lastly, towards the bottom of the main page there is a section to search by subject guides to learn more about a particular time period, or genre. 

Further options:

  • On the About page -- located in the uppermost part of the main page -- there is a section titled What would you like to do? Under this heading there are several potential jumping off points such as "I want to access free subject guides and other free learning resources" which redirects the user to the Tools and Resources page (also available on the main page near the About link we initially clicked on). 


Here we will explore methods by which to conduct a search:

  • The first embedded video on the left shows users how to perform a basic quick search beginning from the main page.
  • The second embedded video on the right shows users how to perform a search beginning beginning from the Subject Guides.
  • The third embedded video on the bottom left shows users how to perform a voice-related search through the same means as the first video.

*All information taken from Oxford Music Online.

In addition to the quick search bar in the top right of the home page in which one would type their topic of inquiry (e.g., Beethoven, the Lute, music theory),  there is an advanced search function with a link directly next to the quick search box. This allows one to break down their search by:

  • terms (i.e., title of an article, author, etc.),
  • the format of the search (images or articles),
  • the type of articles (biographical, family, place, or subject reference),
  • place (the location of an event for example) and just like on the home page we can use the topics to sort through the entries.
  • Lastly, there are limiters which serve to narrow search options (e.g., music theory, but only between 1050 and 1100).

Extra functions:

  • Boolean operators (simple words [AND, OR, NOT, or AND NOT] used as conjunctions to combine or exclude keywords in a search [e.g., music AND dance),
  • Wildcards (use an asterisk at the end of a word to create a more extensive search [the query music* might find the words music, musicology, musician, etc.]).
  • Nesting (some sections on the left side of the screen offer arrows, clicking them will allow for expanding the sections under that topic [e.g., Music Concepts, Genres, and Terms -> Art Music, Dance and Music, etc.]),
  • Exact Phrase searching (to search for an exact phrase, enclose it in quotation marks, also known as inverted commas, [e.g. “digital music production”]).

*All information taken from Oxford Music Online.

There are, of course, benefits for recurring patrons under the personal profile tab located in the top right corner of the screen. The personal profile is separated into three sections:

  • Recent activity: this area keeps a record of the articles you have viewed and the searches you have run most recently
  • Saved content: any articles you have chosen to save are listed here,
  • Edit profile details: use this area to change your password and other details
  • A user can also take saved articles/content and create citation lists -- very beneficial for those doing research,
  • You can also export citations to personal citation management packages, including EndNote, ProCite, ReferenceManager, RefWorks, BibTex, and Zotero (BibText).

*All information taken from Oxford Music Online.