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MUS 20101 — Medieval and Renaissance Music History (Blachly)


The RILM organization (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) began in the 1960s and has been growing ever since. It is a major resource and one that covers many aspects of music research.

The primary content is scholarly and Western focused, though this is expanding as auxiliary fields grow and are increasingly accepted as mainstream. 

If you are looking for trade publications (magazines like Strings or Opera News), or are researching ethnomusicology or popular music, you will need to supplement your search with additional databases. 


RISM - Répertoire International des Sources Musicales

RISM is a vast project seeking to document musical sources in libraries, archives, and other institutions. It is an essential tool for anyone doing primary source research in the common practice period. Additionally, specialty indexes in Series B have expanded RISM beyond its core focus. 

Until recently, RISM consisted of multiple parts that were accessed and used differently, but all of Series A and Part I of Series B have been combined into a single online database, now available without a subscription, and updated regularly.

It is helpful to understand the different series as they were conceived to know the scope of what you can find in RISM. Additionally, the print volumes can be easier to use in some circumstances, and most of Series B is only available in print. All print volumes may be found in the reference section: ML 113 .I6 

RISM Series A - Part I

  • Individual printed music before 1800
  • 13 printed volumes, plus index

RISM Series A - Part II

  • Music Manuscripts after 1600
  • Never issued in print. Still available as a standalone subscription database, but all content is available freely.

RISM Series B

  • Various printed and manuscript collections
  • 30 printed volumes, publication ongoing
  • See RISM Publications for detailed listing as well as supplements and online availability
  • Major Sections:
    • Part 1-2: Printed Anthologies, 1500-1800, is in the process of being added to the database
    • Part 3: Theory of Music to c.1500
    • Part 4: Manuscripts of Polyphonic Music to c.1500

RISM Series C

  • Directory of Research Libraries
  • 5 printed volumes
  • No longer updated in print, use RISM online search for siglia, contact information, and weblinks.