Resources for music cover all genres and aspects of the field, including Musical Performance, Music History and Literature, Music Theory, and Ethnomusicology.
To prepare yourself for researching music and utilizing library resources, add this guide and the links below to your bookmarks/favorites:
When searching, use keywords and avoid complete titles, full names, or long phrases. Be as specific as you can, and take away one keyword at a time to get more results. Use whatever keywords you can think of, such as "johann bach organ wolff" to bring up resources on Bach's organ works edited or written by Christoph Wolff.
Possible keywords: Here are just some of the bits of information you can use as keywords in your search:
Opus/Catalog Numbers: If you know the opus number or thematic catalog number of the work you are looking for, use it in the search, but WITHOUT any preceding letters (no "op." or "BWV"). Not all catalog records will include this information, however, so if you are missing results, take the number out.
Use plurals: When searching generic terms, use the plural forms: works, symphonies, sonatas, toccatas, etc.
Use wildcards or truncate: If you use an asterisk (*) you can get all variants of a word. Searching symphon* will provide results of symphony, symphonies and symphonic- every word that starts with the letters before the asterisk. Using a question mark (?) in the middle of the world will return words that have any letter in that space: a search of wom?n will return both woman and women.
Use numerals: Don't spell out numbers: "Beethoven symphonies 5" NOT "Beethoven fifth symphony" Exception: If it is part of a proper title: "Four organs"
Want to browse? It just takes a little knowledge of the Library of Congress classification system for the subject area you are interested in.
For Music, the LC Classification is broken down into 3 broad headings:
|ML||Literature on Music|
|MT||Instruction and Study|
For a more detailed breakdown visit the Library of Congress Classification: Class M - Music
There's no need to learn every LC number, but here are some key classes to know for general research
If you are looking for authoritative editions, check the M2 and M3 section. These scores don’t circulate outside of the library, but they are a great reference and often contain detailed information about time periods, places, composers and individual works or pieces. You can also find offprints of these editions and more in the main circulating collection.
|M 2||Collections of music with multiple composers [Denkmäler, Monuments, etc.]|
|M 3||Collected works of composers (by last name)|
|ML 134||Composer Bibliographies and Thematic Catalogs (by last name)|
|ML 410||Composer Biographies (by last name)|
|MT 5||Music Theory General works/textbooks|
All solo keyboard music is grouped based on instrument, and is further divided based on genre and use (sonatas, fugues, religious service music, etc.)
|M 6-19||Solo organ|
|M 20-39||Solo piano|
Chamber music can be tricky to browse if you are searching for non-standard ensembles. Broadly speaking, they are grouped by number of players, and then by instrument combination.
|M 312||Piano Trios|
|M 452||String quartets|
|M 900-986||Nonets & larger|
Large ensemble music is grouped by ensemble and genre.
|M 990||Early instrument ensembles|
|M 1000-1075||Orchestral music|
|M 1002||Symphonic poems|
|M 1100-1160||String orchestra music|
|M 1200-1270||Wind ensemble|
Vocal scores are divided into sacred and secular. For works with large instrumental ensembles, there are also different locations based on whether it is a full score or a piano-vocal score.
|M 1500||Operas (full score)|
|M 1503||Operas (piano-vocal score)|
|M 1620-1621||Song (voice/piano)|
|M 2000||Dramatic sacred vocal [Oratorios, passions, etc] (full score)|
|M 2003||Dramatic sacred vocal (piano-vocal score)|
|M 2010||Masses (full score)|
|M 2013||Masses (piano-vocal score)|
|M 2147-2154||Catholic liturgical music|