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Music Research Guide

Searching in the HSU Library Catalog

If you have a known song or opera title or want to find all of our scores by a particular composer, start with a Keyword search using the HSU LIbrary Catalog QuickSearch on the library homepage.

  • Enter relevant words from the composer name and/or title of the piece. (See Uniform Titles in this guide for help with relevant words.) Enclose phrases in quotation marks.
  • Add the word scores to your search

Keyword searching is quick, but you may get irrelevant results, or too many. If a keyword search is unsuccessful, try one of the methods described below, or ask a librarian for help.

To search by composer:

  • Use Advanced Search; click the link to HSU Library Catalog on the QuickSearch tab, then click the Advanced tab on the resulting page.
  • For Type, choose Music Score from the drop down menu.
  • Enter the composer’s name, full or keywords, into a Search box.
  • Change any of these to all of these for that box.
  • Change Keyword Anywhere to Author Name.
  • Click Search or press Enter.

To search for a particular piece of music:

  • Follow the “search by composer” instructions in the section above, but don’t click Search or press Enter.
  • Enter keywords for the piece in a separate Search box. For help with keywords, see Uniform Titles in this guide. Change any of these to all of these.
  • If you know the opus or catalog number for the piece, you may use it as a keyword, or you may put that into a separate Search box, change any of these to all of these, and change Keyword Anywhere to Opus or Part Number.
  • Click Search or press Enter.

To find scores for a particular type of music:

  • Use Advanced Search; click the link to HSU Library Catalog on the QuickSearch tab, then click the Advanced tab on the resulting page.
  • For Type, choose Music Score from the drop down menu.
  • Enter keywords for the type of music you want into a Search box
  • Tips for keywords to use:
    • Musical forms in plural (concertos, duets, sonatas, songs, symphonies)
    • Type of music (children’s, folk, jazz, musicals)
    • Instrumentation (piano, violin, violoncello, horn, flute, orchestra, string orchestra)
    • Vocal range (high voice, medium voice, low voice.)
    • Perhaps truncate country names, for example gree? will find Greek and Greece.
    • Musical periods such as Baroque, Classical, Romantic, etc., are not used as subjects. You will have better luck searching for composers of the period, as "Author."
  • For more help with keywords, see Uniform Titles or Books and Library Catalogs in this guide.
  • Click Search or press Enter

Scores & Sheet Music


Scores and sheet music for works in the public domain (not copyrighted) may be available on the web for free downloading. Here are a few recommended sites:

In the Library

Browsing  When you don't have a particular piece of music in mind, browsing the Library shelves may give you ideas. Here is a partial breakdown of the M section, where scores and song books, etc. are shelved.  Notice the mnemonic structure in the chamber music section; trios are in the M300s, quartets are in the M400s, etc.

  • Collected editions of the works of individual composers are in M3.
  • Instrumental music is in M6-M1490.
    • Music for solo instruments is in M6-M175.
    • Music for chamber ensembles is in M180-990.
      • Duets are in M180-M298.5.
      • Trios are in M300-386.
      • Quartets are in M400-M486, etc.
    • Orchestra music is in M1000-M1075.
    • Band music is in M1200-1269.
    • Music for jazz ensembles is in M1366.
    • Electronic music is in M1473.
  • Vocal music is in M1495-M2199.
    • The most general collections are in M1495.
    • Secular vocal music is in M1497-M1998.
      • Operas, musicals, and excerpts of these are in M1500-M1509.
      • Miscellaneous popular vocal music collections are in M1630.
    • Sacred vocal music is in M1999-2199.

When you have a particular piece of music in mind, you can find out if our library has a score by using the HSU Library catalog or an index to published collections of music. If our Library doesn't have the piece, you may be able to locate a copy to borrow on Interlibrary Loan.

Scores & Song Anthology Indexes at HSU

The HSU Library Catalog lists many large collections of scores, such as the complete works of composers, but the individual pieces in these are not listed. To help you locate individual works in these, use Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music: A Guide to Their Contents (ref ML 113 H52 1980 v. 1-2), complied by Anna Heyer.

Scores for individual songs may not be listed in the HSU Library Catalog. Song indexes list songs by composer, title, and sometimes by subject, and they indicate the anthology or collection which includes the individual song. When you have found the title of a collection containing your song, check the HSU Library Catalog to see if we own it. If we don't, you can borrow it on InterLibrary Loan.

Scores & Song Anthology Indexes Online

Here are a few recommended song indexes on the Web. These were created at other libraries, and the call numbers given for the anthologies are not for the HSU Library. Look up the anthology title in the HSU Library Catalog to see if we have it. If we don't, look it up in WorldCat, and make your interlibrary loan from there.

Uniform Titles

Uniform titles are used in libraries to identify and bring together works that either have no distinctive title of their own or which have a number of different titles. Understanding uniform titles will help you find scores and recordings of musical works in the HSU Library Catalog.

When a musical work has no distinctive title, a uniform title is created for it using these elements:

form + instrumentation + thematic catalog/serial/opus number + key

A famous piano sonata by Beethoven might have any of the following titles, or perhaps others:

  • Moonlight Sonata
  • Piano sonata no. 14
  • Sonata in C# minor
  • Sonata no. 14
  • Sonata quasi una fantasia
  • Sonate fuer das Pianoforte

Any of these could appear on the title page of a score or on the label of a recording (these are the preferred placed for obtaining the title of a work for cataloging purposes). If there were no uniform titles, it would be very difficult to find copies of this piece; the title used would depend on which edition or recording an individual library owned. To solve this problem, libraries use the following uniform title for this piece:

[Sonatas, piano, no. 14, op.27, no. 2, C# minor]

Moonlight Sonata is a nickname for this piece. Many musical works have popular titles, but they cannot be reliably used for finding the works in a library. A book by Berkowitz, Popular Titles and Subtitles of Musical Compositions (ref ML 113 B39 1975) can help find the uniform titles for compositions when you know only the popular name.

Uniform titles are also needed for many musical works that have unique, distinctive titles because these titles may be known in several languages, not all of which may use Roman alphabets. Librarians have decided that the uniform title for named pieces of music will be in the original language of the work, but alphabets will be Romanized. Thus, Bach's Art of the Fugue has the uniform title [Kunst der fuge], and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is given the uniform title [Kartinki s vystavki].

Uniform titles are also given to collections of musical works. The composer may have created the collection, or the publisher of the score or the recording may have put it together. Selections from an individual work or from the works of one composer also have uniform titles. The uniform titles for collections are usually not very descriptive. They may be simply [Works], for example, or [Instrumental music. Selections], or perhaps [Sonatas, violin, piano. Selections]. [Don Giovanni. Selections] is used for various excerpts from this opera. An individual aria would have this uniform title: [Don Giovanni. Il mio tesoro].