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A Guide to Discographical Research: About

This is a guide to the range of resources useful for gathering information about specific recordings.

Using This Guide

The Music & Recorded Sound Division (which includes the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound) at the Library for the Performing Arts has one of the world's largest collections of discographies, as well as of primary sources that can be used to create new discographies. This guide provides an overview of those, as well as of resources beyond NYPL.

What is a discography?

A discography is a list of sound recordings, usually devoted to a particular theme: a record label, a musician, the recorded works of a composer, a musical genre like jazz or punk, or a particular period of time. Discographies often provide information beyond what exists in library catalog records. Whereas a sound recordings cataloger will derive most of the information from the printing on the label, sleeve, or liner notes, a discography will often include details not represented on the physical object. Discographers scour primary sources to discover names of performers, recording session dates and places, and other information not given on the recording itself. They may also examine numbering etched onto individual discs—numbering that differs across discs of the same publisher’s number.

Eventually, these discographies may be used by library catalogers to provide fuller, more useful descriptions.