Music Citation Guide (Chicago Style)

Some general citation tips

  • Citations may look complicated, but  they follow patterns - if you familiarize yourself with the patterns and follow the templates and examples in citation guides like this one and the Chicago Manual of Style, you can create a citation for any type of source easily.

  • Always cite:
    • Direct quotes
    • Situations where you paraphrase another writer's words
    • Musical examples
    • Pictures
    • Charts
    • Graphs
    • Consult your instructor about other items that they’ll want you to cite!

  • You don’t need to cite widely-known facts (for example, birth and death dates that can be easily Googled), but you do need to give credit - through footnotes and your bibliography - where it’s due when using others’ ideas.

  • There are different types of citations: footnotes and bibliography entries.
    • Footnotes appear throughout the body of your paper; use them when you want to let your reader know that something (a quote, a paraphrase, a musical example, etc.) came from somewhere else and is not your own idea.
    • Footnotes are sequential and continuous across pages – they don’t start over with number 1 on every new page.
    • Bibliography entries appear at the end of your paper as a list of the sources you used.
    • Want to see examples of what footnotes and bibliography entries look like in a sample paper? Check out the Purdue OWL Sample Chicago Style Paper!

  • Steps to insert footnotes:
    • Put your cursor after the period of the sentence where you want the footnote to appear.
    • Insert the footnote:
      • Google Docs: Click on the “Insert” dropdown menu > choose “Insert Footnote” (Have questions? Check out these Google Support instructions for inserting footnotes using a computer, iPhone/iPad, or Android device)
      • MS Word on a Mac: Click on the “References” tab on the menu ribbon at the top of the screen > choose “Insert Footnote” (Need help? Check out these Microsoft Support for PC instructions)
      • MS Word on a PC: Click on the “References” tab on the menu ribbon at the top of the screen > choose “Insert Footnote” (Stuck? Take a look at these Microsoft Support for Mac instructions)
    • Once you do this, a horizontal line and a small number will automatically appear at the bottom of the page; if you want to move the sentence or section you footnoted, the part at the bottom of the page will also move around as long as you copy and paste the small number that appears after the sentence within the text of your paper!

  • Indent the first line of footnotes and left-justify (align the beginning of the line with the edge of the left margin) all lines after the first (the number that automatically appears at the bottom of the page when you insert a footnote will line up with the left margin, so put your cursor at the beginning of the line and hit tab once):

    3. Author First Name Last Name, Book Title (City of Publication, State or Country: Publisher Name, Year of Publication), Page Number. [An arrow pointing to the right side of the footnote is above the first line to highlight the formatting of indenting the first line.]

  • Left-justify (align the beginning of the line with the edge of the left margin) the first line of bibliography entries and indent all lines after the first:

    Author Last Name, First Name. Book Title. City of Publication, State or Country: Publisher Name, Year of Publication. [An arrow above the first line of the bibliography entry points to the left side of the example to highlight that the first line should align with the left margin and all lines after that should be indented.]

  • In footnotes: If the piece of information you're citing continues from one page onto a following page, include that information in your citation by indicating a page range, e.g. 6-7; for example, if a quote runs across the break between two pages, format the footnote like this:

    An arrow points to the page range section of this footnote: 18. Flora Rheta Schreiber and Vincent Persichetti, Schuman (New York: G. Schirmer, Inc., 1954), 29-30.

  • When italicizing a title, italicize all parts of it including opus numbers and catalog numbers (e.g. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047 - italicize all parts of the title in a score citation).

  • Even small punctuation marks are important. Don’t forget little things like commas and periods - especially periods at the end of your bibliography entries and footnotes! Paying attention to small details like this will ensure that you don't lose points or credibility.

  • There are small differences between bibliography entries and footnotes, especially in the spots where commas and periods appear. But always add a period at the end of all footnotes and bibliography entries!

  • In footnotes: Don’t add a comma between the title of a book or score and the parentheses around the publication information.

    An arrow points to the spot between the book title and the parentheses in an example footnote with a note that reads "No comma here!"

  • Use title case for English-language sources, and, if a title is in another language, follow the capitalization rules specific to other languages. The American Psychological Association provides a thorough definition of title case and provides a number of examples of how it functions (note: APA style is different than Chicago Style, but the definition of title case is the same in both citation styles). These examples illustrate the differences between following title case rules for an English-language titles, and following the language-specific capitalization rules for titles in German and French: 

    Examples of footnotes for sources with titles in English, German, and French that follow the relevant capitalization rules] 3. William Schuman, Chester: Overture for Band – Based on William Billings’ Hymn and Marching Song of the American Revolution (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser, 1957), 4.   5. J.S. Bach, Flötensonaten I: Die vier authentischen Sonaten, ed. and figured bass realization Hans Eppstein (Munich: G. Henle Verlag, 1978), 10.  11.  Marcel Moyse, Comment j’ai pu maintenir ma form, How I Stayed in Shape, So blieb ich in Form, ed. Nikolaus Delius, trans. Paul M. Douglas (Mainz: Schott Music, 1998), 11-20.

  • If you’re citing a source with which there are many creators associated (this often comes up with operas that have a composer, a librettist, a director, etc.), choose the person who’s contribution is most important for the argument you’re making and list them as the main author. For example, if you're most interested in the MUSIC aspect of a recording of William Tell, format your citation like this:

    Rossini, Gioacchino. Guillaume Tell = William Tell: An Opera in Four Acts. Libretto by Étienne de 	Jouy and Hippolyte Bis. Edited by Berthold Tours. Translated by Natalia Macfarren. London: H.W. Gray, 1920.

    But if you were more focused on the LIBRETTO in your discussion, consider this formatting instead:

    de Jouy, Étienne, and Hippolyte Bis. Guillaume Tell = William Tell: An Opera in Four Acts. Music by  	Gioacchino Rossini. Edited by Berthold Tours. Translated by Natalia Macfarren. London: H.W. 	Gray, 1920.

  • The examples in the Chicago Manual of Style Online don’t include this element, but it would be very helpful for your reader if you included the TYPE of score you’re citing in your citation; for example:

    An arrow points to the section of the footnote example reading "Vocal score.": Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. The Marriage of Figaro, Le nozze di Figaro: Comic Opera in Four Acts. Libretto  	by Lorenzo Da Ponte. Translated by Edward J. Dent. Arranged by Erwin Stein. Vocal score. London: Boosey & Hawkes, 1947.
Last Updated: Dec 18, 2023 4:57 PM