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How to Write About Music

The RILM Manual of Style

Edited by James R. Cowdery

The manual addresses a multitude of special problems faced by writers on music–problems rarely solved by general writing guides. It applies an international perspective to matters often handled piecemeal and in ethnocentric fashion: work titles, manuscript sources, transliteration, non-Western theoretical systems, opus and catalogue numbers, and pitch and chord names, to name just a few. Detailed guidelines are provided for the bibliographic handling of standard print, audiovisual, and electronic sources, as well as specialized ones such as program notes, liner notes, and music videos. Throughout, abundant examples illustrate each point. The second edition includes a new chapter on indexing, additional formats for citing specialized sources, and many other revisions and additions.

Students, scholars, librarians, critics, and performers will find this book indispensable.


How to Write about Music is an extremely helpful and comprehensive guide…. RILM has attempted to create a resource that addresses a global audience over a broad professional spectrum and to set forth its information in an unbiased and accurate manner. Given the scope of material provided and the comprehensive information included in the second edition of How to Write about Music, it appears that RILM has been successful. (Laurel Tarulli, Fontes Artis Musicae, 2008)

Rather than a rigid, dated series of rules and reasoning, The RILM Manual of Style is ever-expanding and indispensable resource. (Rebecca Lentjes, OperaToday, 2015)

Published: 2006 (2nd edition)
Softcover: xv, 128
ISBN 1-932765-03-4

Price: $16.95
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front cover of how to write about music