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Starting points for research in music

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Tips for Finding Scores

Searching for sheet music can sometimes be more complex than searching for books. Here are some tips that will help you to search like a music librarian in UC Library Search:

Use keyword searches! DON'T USE TITLE SEARCHES.

  • Music is published in many different languages. A piece that we might know by an English title might actually be published under its Russian title. A title search needs to be exact or you won't find what you want. Instead use a keyword search which is much broader and has a better chance of finding unofficial titles (like an English translation)
  • Use opus numbers and catalog numbers (like BWV, K, etc.). If you don't know these number they can easily be located in the works listings of Oxford Music Online.
  • Leave out unimportant words that don't add anything to the search (like "for" and "the")

Use a MATERIAL TYPE limiter of "SCORES" in UC Library Search

Use plural forms of generic titles

  • Rather than searching for the singular form of the words symphony, sonata, trio, etc. use the plural form.
    • Symphony = symphonies
    • Sonata = sonatas

For vocal music:

  • Remember, search for song and aria titles as keywords, not titles!
  • You might need to search for the larger work that an aria is from (for example, rather than searching for "Queen of the Night" you might need to search for a score of Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) which will contain this aria.

Tips for Searching in Scholarly Scores (M2 and M3)

How do I find Scholarly Sheet Music in the M3 section(Sets of Complete Works by INDIVIDUAL Composer)?

ProblemThe individual pieces within the scores in the M3 call number section are not individually listed in Library Search.

Solution: Use New Grove!

  • Every individual composer entry in New Grove includes a complete works listing (at the end of the entry). This is where you can find the most authoritative version of the title for a given work.
  • The works listings in New Grove act as an index to the complete works of a composer - those really awesome scholarly scores located in the M3 (call number) section of the library.
    • For example, I'm looking for a scholarly score for J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor (BWV 565). The works listing says this is located in the NBA IV/vi, 31. What does THAT mean?! This means the piece is located in the Neue Bach Ausgabe (M3.B1133) in series 4, volume 6, on page 31.
  • Use either Grove Music Online or the print version in Langson Reference, ML100 .N48 2001

How do I find Scholarly Sheet Music in the M2 section (Sets of Sheet Music by MULTIPLE Composers)?

Problem: The individual pieces within the scores in the M2 call number section are not individually listed in Library Search.

Solution: Two different books are used to locate individual pieces within these sets. Both are located in the Langson Reference Section (1st floor). There is some overlap between the two, but there is also a large amount of unique content in each book. These two books are:

  • Historical sets, collected editions, and monuments of music by Anna Harriet Heyer - ML113.H52 1980
    • Search for the last name of the composer in v.1. Look for the individual pieces under that composer. Once you find your piece determine what set it is in. Search for the title of that set in Library Search.
    • If the composer you're looking for is not listed in v.1, look him or her up in v.2. V.2 indexes the contents of anthologies that contain music by multiple composers; a listing for your composer in v.2 will point you to the correct listing in v.1
  • Collected editions, historical series, & monuments of music by George Hill and Norris Stephens - ML113.H55 1997


Key Online Score Sites


Picture: Mozart Sonata, by Monica Liu, 2009 (CC BY 2.0)

Recent Researches in Music Online is the online version of the excellent scholarly editions produced by A-R Editions. Includes pdf versions of scores from the "Recent Researchers in... the Music of the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance; Renaissance; Baroque Era; Classical Era; Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries; and American Music. UCI's online access begins with scores published in 2018 to the present.

IMSLP (Petrucci Music Library) had over 275,000 freely available scores as of June, 2014. Scores available to Americans using this site have been published prior to 1923 (i.e., they're in the public domain). Generally you will find old 19th century editions of music that are good for a quick look, but are sometimes fraught with errors that more modern, scholarly editions have corrected.

Open Music Library helps you discover what music is out there on the internet. It regularly gathers information about new electronic sheet music, books, articles, etc. that are available online and provides a single search engine to find them. This is particularly helpful for locating small collections of electronic sheet music

Harvard Online Resources for Music Scholars Digital Scores is a continually growing directory of high quality online repositories of online sheet music.


Other Online Score Sites

Music Treasures Consortium is a collaborative effort between the Library of Congress, Juilliard School, and others. Researchers can browse and view scans of important music manuscripts such as Beethoven's opera Fidelio or Mahler's Symphony no.1.

Sheet Music Consortium, a joint effort UCLA and other universities across the country, provides access to scans of public domain sheet music. Popular song sheet music makes up a large proportion of this database.

Web Library of Seventeenth Century Music is an open-access, peer-reviewed collection makes available works composed between 1600 and 1700 that are not commercially available in print, and no editions have been posted online. The WLSCM is a service offered by the Society for Seventeenth Century Music.

DIAMM Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music

Josquin Research Project - Don't be fooled by the name. This resource has music by famous early composers like Josquin des Prez, as well as many of his well known, and lesser known contemporaries.

Early Music Sources is a helpful site to help one cut through the massive amount of early music resources on the web. Rather than having much of its own content, it acts as an excellent database and index for finding relevant resources quickly.