Two New Research Guides about Latin American Composers

I am thrilled to announce the online publication of two new Music Division research guides: Latin American Composers: A Guide to Resources at the Library of Congress and Primary Sources for Latin American Composers at the Library of Congress. These guides complement each other, and you can also use one or the other depending on your own research needs and interests. Let’s explore!

Latin American Composers: A Guide to Resources at the Library of Congress provides a foundation to find Latin American voices throughout the Music Division’s holdings. When I created this guide, I continually visualized the Music Division’s users – past, present, future, long-distance, local, and virtual. I thought to myself, “What reference assistance have I consistently provided that could be brought together in this guide?” I also thought about the types of questions my colleagues and I receive and used this guide as an opportunity to be any user’s first pass at answering those questions through skill-building. For example:

  • Are you looking for cello sonatas by composers from Argentina?
  • Do you need help finding more names of Cuban composers than Google can provide?
  • Does your wind quintet want to diversify its programming beyond the white European canon?
  • Are you trying to find out if a Mexican composer published memoirs?
  • Do you want to watch videos of past Music Division concerts with works by Latin American composers?

If you’ve ever had questions like these, then Latin American Composers: A Guide to Resources at the Library of Congress is a great place for you to start! You’ll notice that the title and scope of this guide is similar to another guide I recently completed, Black Composers: A Guide to Resources at the Library of Congress.

Unlike published scores and books, Primary Sources for Latin American Composers at the Library of Congress brings you to the source materials in Latin American composers’ own words, musical notation, and images. The best part: all primary sources in this guide are in the Music Division’s collections for a one-stop research experience. Primary Sources for Latin American Composers at the Library of Congress is the culmination of my 2019 project with an intern through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program. Revisit this blog post to read about the project and intern!

As with my more general guide about Latin American composers, I kept the kinds of reference questions asked by our international users in mind. Research questions related to Latin American primary sources often come to us as:

  • “What do you have for composers from Chile?”
  • “I am writing my dissertation on a composer from Panama. Do you have any letters or music manuscripts?”

For questions like these, this new research guide will let you know!

Screen shot of the page "Dominican Republic" as an example of a table with composers of the same nationality.

An example of a list of primary sources in the Music Division by country is this page for composers from the Dominican Republic.

Screen shot of the page for Brazilian composer Eleazar de Carvalho ss an example of a single-composer page within the guide.

The page for Brazilian composer Eleazar de Carvalho as an example of a single-composer page within the research guide

My solution was to organize the guide alphabetically by country so that researchers can go directly to the nationalities and composers relevant to their work. I also hope that organization by nationality can aid my fabulous colleagues in the Hispanic Reading Room whose specialties are regional and linguistic, as well as their respective networks of colleagues and researchers. After all, composers, artists, poets, activists, and writers do tend to flock together, and the historical record in the Music Division’s collections can tell another side to stories in the humanities.

Both of these research guides are starting points like any reference tool. My overall goal is to empower users of the Music Division’s collections to seek out, write about, perform, and feel represented by the diverse voices who compose music. I hope that both of these Latin American-focused guides, as well as Black Composers: A Guide to Resources at the Library of Congress, can help us all achieve that goal.

And don’t forget – if you can’t find what you need or want to know even more, get in touch through Ask a Librarian!

Celebrate Black History Month with Music Research Guides

As Black History Month comes to a close, the Music Division is pleased to announce three recently published research guides that highlight Black history in our collections: “Harry Thacker Burleigh: A Guide to Resources,” “Early African-American Music: A Bibliography,” and “Black Composers in Music Division Collections.”