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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MUS 557: Piano Literature


This page walks you through the process of searching for books in the library catalog. Navigate through the tabbed box below to learn more about the different search options available to you: keyword searching, known title / author searching, and subject searching.

For more general information about using the library catalog, requesting and renewing items, and requesting items from other universities that UIUC doesn't have in it's collection, check out the library guide below from the Main Library.

Find Books in the Library Catalog

When you perform a basic search in the library catalog you are conducting what is known as a keyword search.

  • A keyword search will check the terms you enter against almost every word in every part of an item's catalog record. 
  • If you're not sure of the exact title, perform a keyword search with the words you know (and the author's last name if you know it).
  • Or, if you're looking for books on a topic, this is often the easiest way to begin searching.

Screenshot of keyword search in Primo catalog

If you know the name of the book you need, perform a Title search in the library catalog. First, click on Advanced Search at the end of the search bar. 

Screenshot highlighting location of Advanced Search in Primo

Select Title from the first dropdown menu. If you know the exact title, use quotes around phrases to return the phrase in the exact order you indicated. If you're searching for the book Black Noise, but you don't use quotation marks around the title, your search will pull any results with "black" or "noise" in the title and you'll have to sift through irrelevant results.

Screenshot demonstrating how to do a Title Search in Primo

Use an Author search to find materials by a specific author, composer, or performer. Names can be entered in any configuration (e.g. first last or last, first).
Screenshot of Author search in Primo

A Subject search is more specific than a keyword search.

  • This will search the subject headings, which are the specific terms assigned to items in the library catalog.
  • Subject headings tell you what an item is about and can be useful in narrowing your search (like if you want to narrow your results to items about a composer and not items by the composer).

Example: To get books about music and popular culture, select Subject in the first dropdown. You can split up subjects by each line, or include them all in one line. Remember, quotation marks keep phrases together. For this example, put "Music" as the first subject and "Popular culture" as the second subject.

The dropdown menus on the right let you limit your search, so you can search only for Books (as opposed to scores, recordings, etc.).

Screenshot of subject search for music and popular culture

If your search is not narrow enough, check out the Tweak your results column to the left, especially the Subject section.

Screenshot showing facets to narrow search results in Primo

Once you find an item that looks promising, click on the title to open the full record. Scroll down to the Details section. You can use the Subjects in the record and words from the summary or table of contents to refine your search if needed.

Screenshot of catalog record highlighting the subjects

Catalog Search Recommendations for Piano Literature

Following the instructions in the box above under the "Search by Subject" tab in the catalog, try some of the recommended subject headings below to find books on piano music through the catalog.

Recommended Subject Headings for Piano Literature:

  • [composer name]—criticism and interpretation
  • keyboard instruments [or pianos or harpsichords]—history
  • musical analysis
  • music--interpretation (phrasing, dynamics, etc.)
  • performance practice (music)—[geographical or temporal subdivision]
  • piano music--bibliography (for repertoire guides and bibliographies of writings about the piano) 
  • piano music [or keyboard instrument music]—analysis, appreciation
  • piano music [or keyboard instrument music]—history and criticism
  • piano [or harpsichord] makers—[geographical or temporal subdivision]

"Criticism and interpretation" along with "analysis, appreciation" and "history, criticism" are three of the most useful subject headings to guide you to books that talk about composers and their works.

Search Tip: Remember that you can click on a subject term in a catalog record to launch a new search for other items that share that particular subject heading in our catalog.