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Ah, summertime, that well of youthful languor! The air hangs heavy, the trees bask in the heat, the chlorine stings, and the fireflies serenely blink. From somewhere imperceptible, but growing louder: a soaring chord, a crash of drums, the barbed hook of the melody. Yes – whether you’re barbecuing in the backyard, cruising through town with the windows down, or soaking up the sun on the shore of a seething lake, no summer is complete without its jam. 

UK Libraries is here to help you in your quest for the perfect accompaniment to every summer scene. Below, we’re spotlighting electronic resources, collections, and library spaces where the tunes are perpetually playing – and the jukebox is always bedimed. On, humid muses!

Music Online: American Music

Music Online: American Music is an historical database with nearly 135,000 albums and over a million tracks that allow users to hear and feel the music of America’s past. The database includes songs by and about Indigenous Americans, enslaved people, miners, immigrants, children, activists, suffragettes, and figures from across American history.

Users can browse by instrument, performer, genre, or even historical event: American Music holds songs about events as varied as the Revolutionary War and the Collision of the Cannonball Express, with particularly strong coverage of armed conflicts, strikes, the Civil Rights Movement, political campaigns, and anti-war protests. 

What we’re spinning this summer: James Brown, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bessie Smith, and Ma Rainey.

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music

One of UK Libraries’ newest resources, the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music is widely regarded as the most complete body of work focused on world music.

The encyclopedia takes as its aim nothing short of the comprehensive overview of the music of all the world’s peoples. Each of the encyclopedia’s nine place-based volumes contains an overview of a geographic region and a survey of its musical heritage, with detailed descriptions of musical genres, practices, and performances. Each volume also includes photographs of musicians and musical instruments and provides the cultural context of dances, rituals, and ceremonies. A tenth volume provides research tools and essays by leading ethnomusicologists.

Clocking in at over 9,000 pages and 300 audio recordings, and with entries by more than 700 expert contributors from around the globe, GEWM is the authoritative academic source for the study of world music. Our boombox has never been more informed.

What we’re spinning this summer: Ghanian Palm-Wine songs, Tannese Conch-Shell Trios, and everything ever played on a gamelan.

Fine Arts Library Media Center

If you’re on campus this summer, stop by the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts & Design Library and get your groove on!

Available in the Media Center on the First Floor, the library’s audio collection has especially strong coverage of western art music, jazz, folk, and international music, and its video collection includes performances of opera and musical theatre. 

Check out your LPs, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, or VHS tapes and head to the Listening Center to indulge your aural senses. We have headphones available for check out if you forget to bring your own. Aren’t records crazy? All that sound from those little grooves!?

What we’re spinning this summer: Richard Wagner, Wicked, and School of Music faculty and student recitals.

Guide to Music & Music Research

To find all of UK Libraries’ music resources – and in-depth information on the vast field of summer jamming – look no further than our Guide to Music & Music Research. Users can find detailed descriptions and instructions for accessing: 

  • Print collections, including books and scores
  • Specialized databases and streaming music resources
  • Online indices for music scores, articles, and periodicals
  • Additional Research Guides, focusing on particular instruments, genres, resource types, and research areas

For even more music, check out all 26 of our music databases, or visit our Fine Arts Databases and Fine Arts Research Guides pages to quench your creative yearnings!