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 AND Boolean operator.
  • Any Boolean operators MUST be typed in UPPER CASE: AND, OR, NOT (OMNI treats all lower-case words as regular keywords).
  • Include the name of the instrument.
    • Be sure to use the PLURAL, if you seek music for TWO of that 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).
  • 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.. etc.)
  • Limit your search results to "Scores" (use this limit judiciously: not all scores are in the "scores table" so you may miss what you seek - so be sure to scan the results' call numbers)
  • 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.

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:

Other useful Subject Headings include:

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

Search using Uniform Titles

Uniform Titles frequently add an extra level of complexity to music-searching. However, compared to the task of finding ALL editions/versions of a single music score - which could be listed in three (or more) languages), Uniform titles are a godsend.

In library catalogues, you will find all the different versions of one work listed under the author's name. This can be easily done for books, which are unlikely to change title from one edition to another. But a musical work may be printed or recorded with titles that vary by language and/or wording.

Different title pages of the same piano concerto by Mozart can begin with different letters of the alphabet! 

  • Concerto in A major for piano, K. 488
  • Konzert A Dur, K. 488 fur Klavier
  • Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488

To be able to search for this ONE work (without having to search for all of these different titles) a distinctive or Uniform Title is created by a library cataloguer, and this appears immediately after the composer's name on all of the catalog records for that one composition, and, in OMNI, this can be searched via an Author/Creator search:

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791. Concertos, piano, orchestra, K. 488, A major.

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