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Music (SUBJECT GUIDE): Citations in Music Research

A comprehensive resource guide for music research

Writing Guides on Music in Murphy Library

Footnotes & Endnotes

  • In music history, footnotes (at the bottom of each page) or endnotes (citations placed at the end of the document) are used, rather than in-text citations.

  • Footnote numbers are consecutive, even if the source materials are repeated.  

  • In a Word document, you will find the footnote commands under Insert, Footnote, Auto number.

  • After the first full citation (using first name, last name, and commas rather than periods between the parts of the entry), use abbreviated or shortened citations (Ibid is not recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style).

  • Notice that in these entries the word and abbreviation for volume (vol.) and for page (p.) are omitted; they are understood by their order and context.


         1Bonnie J. Blackburn, Edward E. Lowinsky and Clement A. Miller, eds, A Correspondence of Renaissance Musicians (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 75.

         2Honey Meconi, "Art-Song Reworkings:  An Overview," Journal of the Royal Musical Association 119 (1994): 32-33.

         3Honey Meconi, "Art-Song Reworkings,” 37.

Footnote & Bibliography Formats and Examples

  • Whenever you quote, borrow an idea or any information from a source you must credit the source in a footnote or endnote.  

  • Give a full citation of the author and reference the first time you refer to the source, and a short version with the author's name and the title thereafter.

  • Always include the specific page number where the information can be found.

  • Whenever you want to provide additional references or contribute commentary that is relevant to a subject, put these into a footnote.


Mozart's fugal writing occurs in several of his late symphonies.  See A. Peter Brown, “Eighteenth-Century Traditions and Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony K.551,” The Journal of Musicology, 20 (2003):157-195.


End your entry with a period.

Click here for examples of citations in Turabian. 

Click here for an example of an entire bibliography in Turabian. 

Click here for an another example of a bibliography. 

Sound Recordings, Video, Multi-media

  • The preferred order of entry items is similar to the previous formats:

    • composer (in popular music, the artist or group may come first),

    • ensemble name,

    • album title in italics,

    • series title (if any)

    • label and number,

    • year (if known),

    • type of recording (LP, CD, videocassette)  

    • quantity of discs (if more than one)

  • Additional information regarding the contents and individual titles can be listed at the end. The examples below are in bibliographic format.

Bach, Johann Sebastian.  Mass in B Minor [Messe H-Moll, Messe en Si Mineur]. Academy and Chorus of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.  Neville Marriner, dir. Marshall, Baker, Tear and Ramey soloists. Philips, 1977, reissued  416 415-2, 2002. 2 CDs.


Beethoven, Ludwig van.  9 Symphonies.  The Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre révolutionnaire et romantique. John Eliot Gardiner, dir. Archiv Produktion D207136.  5 CDs.

Machaut, Guillaume de.La Messse de Nostre Dame. Chansons. Boston Camerata. Joël Cohen, dir. Harmonia mundi HMC 5122,1985. LP.

Russell, Linda. The Good Old Days: 18th Century Folk Music. Prairie Smoke Records, 1984, reissued 2003 on CD.

Verdi, Giuseppe.  Requiem. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Herbert von Karajan, conductor. Mirella Freni, soprano. Deutsche Grammophon 437 474, 1972, reissued 1992. 2 CDs.


Musical Titles

Generic titles should not be italicized or put in quotations:

     Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, op. 92

     Piano Concerto in A Minor by Robert Schumann

     Mozart, Requiem, K. 626

Note that in titles, the pitch and the tonality are capitalized.

Opus numbers appear last, without capitalization, and are preceded by a comma.

The abbreviation for any cataloguer (Köchel = K.) is given as a capital letter.

If a work such as those listed above also has a title, the title is listed at the end, in italics, preceded by a comma:

      Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Resurrection

     Symphony No. 5 in D Major, op. 107, Reformation by Mendelssohn

In a paper, the first appearance of a title should appear in full, as in the examples above.

Subsequent references to the same work can be in shortened form, such as:

     The Resurrection Symphony by Mahler

     Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony

Non-generic titles should be italicized, including song titles that are not a part of a larger work or cycle.   Here are several examples:

     Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra

     Brahms, Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, op. 56a

     Schoenberg, Gurrelieder

     Ravel, Alborada del gracioso

     R. Strauss, Also sprach Zarathustra

     Schubert, Erlkönig

A hierarchy of italics (opera title) and quotations should be used for aria titles:

     Wagner, "Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater" from Die Walküre  

     Verdi, "Sempre libera" from La Traviata  

     "Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater" from Wagner’s Die Walküre

     "Sempre libera" from La Traviata by Verdi

Note that the title of the opera is in italics, and the title of the excerpt, recitative or aria is in quotes. This system can also be applied to any work where individual sections have titles separate from that of the complete work, including oratorios and song cycles:

     Schubert, "Der Lindenbaum" from Winterreisse  

     Strauss, "Klänge der Heimat" from act II of Fledermaus  

For recitatives and arias or sections of a scene, give both titles (first few words) connected by three dots between the texts. 


Common abbreviations when writing about music:

  m. measure
     mm. measures 

Use "m." or "measure" when referring to one bar only, and "mm." when referring to a number of bars (i.e., mm. 59-62). Avoid beginning a sentence with this or any abbreviation. 


     The horns enter at m. 32.
     The development section (mm. 20-30) is comparatively short.
     Measure 56 marks the entrance of the trombones. 
     ca. circa
     cm. centimeter
     no. number
     nos. numbers
     op. opus 
     opp. opuses, opera
     rpt. reprint, reprinted, reprinted by

The following abbreviations should be used in notes, tables, or diagrams, but generally avoided in your narrative text. 

     ch. chapter

     ed. editor, edited by

     eds. editors

     edn. edition

     ex(s). example, examples

     facs. facsimile

     l., ll. line, lines

     rev. revision, revised, revised by

     sc. scene

     trans. translation, translated by

     vol (s). volume, volumes

Latin abbreviations (no spaces; note the comma)

     e.g., (exempli gratia; for example)

     i.e., (id est; that is)

Citation Guides

Capitalization for musical terms

Use lower case for…

Tonalities: modes, pentatonic, major and minor, except when they are part of a title:

Mozart modulates to C major…

Sonata in C Minor (a title)

Genre names, except when they refer to a specific title:



string quartet



Musical forms and sections of forms are not capitalized:

sonata form

binary form

concerto form



recitatives and arias

exposition, development and recapitulation

Liturgical words, especially those that begin a movement or section, are capitalized:

Mass, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus dei

Requiem, Dies irae

Dynamics, endings and other musical instructions use lower case and italics.  Complete words are preferable to abbreviations, but when shortened, italics are still required.

forte            f

pianissimo            pp

a cappella

da capo      

Tempo markings are capitalized only when they refer to the beginning of a movement:

In the Adagio movement…

Pitches, chords and time signatures

In written text, pitches are capitalized and chords are given in roman numerals, or their use, whichever is more logical.

“Happy Birthday” begins on C and on the tonic chord, but moves to a V7. 

4/4, 9/8, 3/2 (do not use fractions with one number over the other)

Musical periods are generally capitalized:

Middle Ages, but medieval music

Renaissance period

Baroque period

Classical era

Romantic composers and romanticism

Impressionist era

twentieth-century music, contemporary music

centuries are lower case

twentieth-century music

nineteenth-century Lieder (hyphenate the two adjectives)

sixteenth-century motets

in the seventeenth century (no hyphen)

Instrument and voice names are lower case:




french or english horns (non-literal meaning of the nationality)

soprano, alto, tenor, bass