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Citing Music Materials According to Chicago: Overview

This guide provides examples of how to cite various music materials according to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed.

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Citing Music Materials:


Zotero is a free, online citation management tool. It has a plug-in for Word that allows you to import footnotes and bibliographic citations directly from your Zotero account, and you can easily add journal articles, websites, and other content directly to Zotero by using its browser plug-in. You can find more information how to use Zotero on the Citation Management Research Guide.

Why We Cite:

By this point in your academic career, you understand that not citing your sources appropriately is plagiarism. But why do we require you to learn complex and arcane rules about how your format your citations? 

  • Scholarly Discourse - While you may not realize it, every time that you write a paper, perform a piece, or compose a work, you are contributing to the discourse of the discipline of music. Within every discipline, there are rules that govern how we communicate. Proper citations are part of participating in scholarly writing about music.
  • Citations Facilitate Review - When an author supplies footnotes, it allows the reader to retrace the author's argument, down to the precise page number of the source cited. This is a key component of peer review, in which other experts check an author's work prior to publication.  A bibliography indicates which sources were consulted, and in some cases, the absence of a source leads to vigorous debate. 
  • Every Discipline Has a Preferred Citation Style - While the punctuation and formatting of citation styles may seem arbitrary, it does serve a purpose. For example, in the sciences, currency of a source is extremely important; thus, the date is the first element of the citation. In music and the humanities, date is of less importance, and is saved for the end of the citation. Mastering the citation style of your discipline is what makes you an expert rather than a novice learner.

Questions? Ask Me!

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Sara Manus
Music Librarian for Education and Outreach / Anne Potter Wilson Music Library, 2134B / Blair School of Music / 2400 Blakemore Avenue, Nashville, TN 37212