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Black Composers: Getting Started

This guide to Black composers offers a sampling of resources on their lives, works, and social contexts. Like Duke Libraries' "5 Titles" blog, this guide is meant to offer a selection of resources rather than serve as a comprehensive list.

General Music Resources

Here are some online music databases and general resources that can be helpful as you start your research.

More Subject Headings

If the suggested resources in this guide don't include what you're looking for, remember that the Libraries have a wealth of other resources available.  Try some of these subject headings to explore further:

Databases and Online Resources of Interest

There are several online databases of music recordings and printed and manuscript music that can help you in your research.

Music by Black Composers is a project of the Rachel Barton Pine Foundation, and includes music and resources related to both living and historical Black composers.

The Institute for Composer Diversity promotes music written by composers who identify with traditionally underrepresented groups.  The Institute's website includes databases of composers and musical works, as well as a page with links to other resources with similar missions.


IMSLP provides free access to digitized images of myriad printed and manuscript musical works of many genres.

Alexander Street Press includes at least four collections of recordings that may be of potential interest to researchers of Black and African-American composers:


The Naxos Music Library has a wealth of recordings and resources categorized by genre and ensemble type, themed playlists, essays, and easily searchable collections.

Head, Music Library

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Laura Williams
113 Biddle Music Building
Call me:(919) 660-5952
Subjects: Humanities, Music

Music Librarian for Public Services

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Sarah Griffin
113B Biddle Music Building


Guide created by Barb Prillaman, 4-2021