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Music (SUBJECT GUIDE): How to locate scores & recordings

A comprehensive resource guide for music research

Classical Scores Library from Alexander Street Press

LC Classification for Music

Library of Congress - MUSIC

This is the breakdown of how the Library of Congress classifies all its music materials.

Helpful hints!

Don't forget --

Use KEYWORD searching initially to identify relevant records.

Use SUBJECT/DESCRIPTOR searching using terms you find on relevant records.

Use TRUNCATION (i.e., shortening a word to its root or base form using a designated symbol, such as ?, * !, $) for words that might:

  • Have more than one significant form.
  • Have alternative spellings (type as much as you KNOW is correct!).

Search Tip

When searching for a piece in Search@UW, do an AUTHOR search for the composer (lastname, firstname) and you will get a list of all the compositions (including those within a CD or score) in alphabetical order.

If the piece is contained in a larger work, there will be a link to that larger work.

More about recordings


When you are seeking musical recordings, don't forget to check NAXOS MUSIC ONLINE as well as Search@UW! Naxos offers streaming audio of thousands of classical, jazz, folk, and world music recordings. It also provides access to the fulltext of most accompanying materials and even includes a pronouncing dictionary of composers' names!

All Naxos recordings are now findable in Search@UW, with easy links to stream!

Where can I find this info?

You can find these pieces of information using various resources in the Library or on the Library's Website.  Some of the most useful are:

Search@UW - just doing a simple keyword search using information you already know can yield helpful information!

Grove Music Online  or The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, print version:  REF - ML 100 .N48 v.1-20) - This can give you the full names of composers, their country of origin, and, in some cases, complete information about various compositions, including when the piece was written, its nickname (if any), its opus number or thematic catalog number (if applicable), and its original title, key, and instrumentation.  Be sure to look for the list of a composer's works following the biographical information in the Grove main entry for that composer.

WorldCat - you also can find much of this information in the various bibliographic records for the musical work in WorldCat.  The author field of the records will include the full name and dates of the composer and the uniform title will provide the original title, language, and any relevant sequence, opus, or thematic catalog numbers associated with the piece.  Instrumentation is often provided as well.  Nicknames may be in the title, notes, or alternative title fields. - also can provide much useful information about specific compositions.

Don't be afraid to ask your professor or a librarian for assistance!

Useful information

To find a score or recording of a particular musical work in Search@UW, WorldCat, or Naxos Music Online, you will need information about the following:

  1. Composer’s name -
    1. Last, first, and middle (or middle initial) if at all possible.
    2. Think about alternative transliterations if the name comes from a language that uses an alphabet other than the Roman alphabet, e.g., Cyrillic, Hebrew, Chinese, etc..
  2. Title of the work in its original language, e.g., The Marriage of Figaro = Le nozze di Figaro, B Minor Mass = Messe in H-Moll, Quartet for the End of Time = Quatuor pour la fin du temps.
  3. Alternative titles or nicknames, such as "Moonlight Sonata" or "Jupiter" Symphony. 
  4. Is the piece part of a larger work?  For example, an aria from a particular opera, e.g., "Quando m'en vo" = "Musetta's Waltz Song" from Puccini's La Boheme OR "No One Is Alone" from Sondheim's Into the Woods.
  5. Nationality of the composer.  This helps determine your search terms, for example:
    1. piano = Klavier (German) = clavier (French, technically, "keyboard")
    2. violin = Geige (German) = Violon (French)
    3. viola = Bratsche = alto
    4. double bass = Kontrabass (German) = Contrebasse (French)
    5. bassoon = Fagott (German) = basson (French) = fagotto (Italian)
    6. oboe = hautbois (French)
    7. percussion battery = Schlagzeug (German) = batterie (French)
    8. string quartet = Streichquartett (German) = quatuor a cordes (French)
      **For more info, consult:  International Vocabulary of Music by Stephen Dembski, et al. (ML 108 .L49 1984)
  6. Numbers associated with the work, such as sequence, opus, or thematic catalog numbers.  Examples of some common thematic catalog numbers include:
    1. "BWV" = Bach Werke Verzeichnis (J.S. Bach)
    2. "D" = Deutsch (Schubert)
    3. "Hob." = Hoboken (F.J. Haydn)
    4. "K" = Kochel (Mozart)
    5. "R" = Ryom (Vivaldi)
    6. **You can often find thematic catalog numbers using the Murphy Library catalog, WorldCat, or the "works" section at the end of composer entries in The New Grove Dictionary.
  7. Key signature or voice type/range.
  8. Instrumentation (or original instrumentation of work).
  9. Score format that you desire, e.g., full or conductor's score, mini-score, vocal score, piano reduction.

LC Call Numbers

Murphy Library uses the Library of Congress Classification Scheme (LC) to determine the location of its materials.  The LC system is an alpha-numeric system.  This means that the call numbers contain letters and numbers.  The letters tell the user the general subject matter of the material; the numbers provide more specific information about the material.

M = Music or Scores

ML = Music Literature and/or Music History

MT = Music Theory and Pedagogy

Below are some important range designations:

M 1.A1-5000      MUSIC SCORES

M 6-1490           INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC

M 177-990         Music for two or more solo instruments

M 180-298.5      Duets

M 300-386         Trios

M 400-486         Quartets

M 500-586         Quintets

M 600-686         Sextets

M 700-786         Septets

M 800-886         Octets

M 900-986         Nonets and larger combinations of purely chamber music

M 990               Chamber music for instruments of the 18th century and earlier

M1000-M1075      Music for Orchestra

M1100-M1175      Music for String Orchestra