Finding Music

Please click on one of the following links for information  specific to your instrument/ensemble (or, scroll-down for the generic instructions):



Why is it so Difficult to Find Printed Music?

  1. Author Searches are not recommended because composers are often extremely prolific. Try an Author Search on Mozart, Wolfgang...or Bach, Johann Sebastian...daunting!
  2. Title Searches do not work well either. Library of Congress Cataloguing Rules require use of titles in the original language of composition. e.g.The Magic Flute is entered as Die Zauberflöte, the Nutcracker ballet as Shchelkunchik.
  3. Many works have the same title. e.g. "sonata," "concerto" or "symphony".
  4. "Contents Notes" are not searched when you search by Title. Use a KEYWORD search to locate items whose titles are buried in contents of anthologies.
  5. Libraries prefer to purchase the complete version/edition (e.g. a volume of all songs by a single composer; all of his/her piano sonatas; a complete opera, etc.) to save money on binding costs. This means your required title is never searchable/viewable as a "title," and will be buried in a "Contents Note."

In the Western Libraries Catalogue

Keyword searching is a fast and efficient way to find repertoire.

To Find a Known Piece of Music by Keyword

  • Use the plural of the musical genre e.g. sonatas, suites, concertos.
  • Type your keywords in the search box. Just like with Google, a space equals the boolean operator AND.
  • Include the name of the instrument.
  • Include the composer's surmane or a distinctive first name to help narrow your results.
  • Include a distinctive word (e.g. title word, opus number or thematic catalogue number). To find titles, opus or thematic numbers consult The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
  • When including an opus or thematic catalogue number, include/use numerals only. (i.e. do not include the K, K.V., KV or BWV, B.W.V.)
  • Limit your search results to "Printed Music" (use this limit judiciously: not all scores are in the "scores table" so you may miss what you seek)
  • Include your search statement within parentheses (for words/terms that need to be connected by AND), or, enclose your phrase in double quotation marks, and exclude "sound" from your search strategy.
    • (mozart zauberflote) and not sound
    • "gretchen am spinnrade" and not sound
    • (mozart concertos clarinet) and not sound

Search by Subject

A Subject search is NOT the same as a Keyword search. Library of Congress Subject Headings are assigned by cataloguers. They organize music by its genre, so that all sonatas for violin are grouped in one section and all concertos for violin are in another section. Each section is then organized alphabetically, by composers' surnames.

WARNING: If, for example, you use the Subject "trumpet music" you will find miscellaneous solo works only!

Most music will be found under the Subject Heading for a specific genre. For example:

  • sonatas (trumpet and piano)
  • suites (trumpet and continuo)
  • concertos (trumpet) [full scores and sound recordings]
  • concertos (trumpet) -- SOLO WITH PIANO
  • concertos (trumpet with string orchestra)

Other useful Subject Headings include:

  • trumpet -- suites and exercises
  • trumpet -- orchestra studies (etc.)

Words or terms from Subject Headings may be used in KEYWORD searches.

Uniform Titles frequently add an extra level of complexity to the search for music. You may find the following source helpful: Making the Most of the Music Library Using Uniform Titles.