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Music Resources: Scores & Sheet Music

A guide to resources on Music

Finding Scores in the Library

Browsing the online catalog:

  1. Either start with a search term, or click the search button while leaving the search bar empty.  
  2. Use the filters on the left side of the results page.  Limit results to only show Music scores
    • In OneSearch, the filter is called Source Types. Check the box next to Music Scores, then click Update. 
    • In the regular Library Catalog, the filter is called Format Type. Check the box next to Music, and then click Include.
  3. Narrow your search as needed using the other filters. You can filter by publication date and subject in both OneSearch and the Library Catalog.

Search Tips: Different filters are visible in the Library Catalog vs. OneSearch. Check the Advanced Search function to see more options.

For example, in OneSearch, the Language limiter is particularly useful for finding vocal music in languages other than English, while the Library Catalog displays a list of composers in the Author limiter.

Finding Scores Online

Comparing Types and Editions of Scores

Musical scores are often made available in a variety of “editions” 

The main distinction is between editions intended for performance and those intended for study. Here are some of the more common types:

 

Performing editions are scores that have been edited by publishers and teachers / performers to include fingerings, phrasing, and sometimes tempo indications. They tend to be printed large so they can be easily read while singing or playing. 

  • A full score contains the written music for the ensemble as a whole, while parts are the written music for individual instruments. 
  • A reduction condenses a greater range of instrumentation into fewer parts. For example, replacing full orchestration with a reduced version for piano and voice. 
  • In a transcription or arrangement, music has been rewritten for a different key or performance medium.

 

Critical or Scholarly Editions are based on scholarly evaluation and comparison of sources, taking into account variant readings.  Editors examine all available editions of a given work, including sketches, manuscripts, publisher’s proof copies, early printed editions, etc. to create the most scholarly edition they can.  

  • Critical commentary is included that discusses any alterations in accidentals, notes, ornaments, and so forth.
  • References are included to any manuscript sources available and also to research on whether the composer made changes to the original (such as notes or cuts, etc.).

Collected Works or Complete Works are multi-volume sets representing a composer’s complete compositional output. Sometimes they include accompanying volumes of critical commentary (or Kritische Berichte) to explain the editor's choices. 

Complete works are generally internally organized by genre-- e.g. all orchestral works, chamber works, vocal works together. Terms associated with collected works include Werke, Sämtliche Werke, and Gesamtausgabe in German; Opere in Italian; and Oeuvres in French. 

Study scores are intended for close reading and analysis, generally printed in smaller sizes than would be practical for a performance score. 

Urtext is a German term meaning first/prime/original (text); these editions have very little editorial intervention with the intention that in this way they represent the composer’s original intentions. 

Facsimile Editions use photographic reproduction techniques to retain the exact appearance of an older handwritten or printed edition. Facsimile editions are generally not intended for use in performance, although they can be helpful in determining past performance practices. 

Special thanks to Tom Christie of the Trexler Library at Muhlenberg College whose research guide Music Research - finding the score served as a source for this discussion on the types and editions of scores. 

Browsing for Scores by Call Number

Materials in Oscar Rennebohm Library are organized according to the Library of Congress Classification System. The first part of a call number is a one- or two-letter code for a broad class or category of knowledge.

Class M is for Music, and the call number for any score will begin with just plain M

Class M has two subclasses, ML and MT, but those call numbers belong to books about music.

See our Call Numbers for Music Materials page for more information and for "cheat sheets" to help find scores in the stacks.