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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Finding Popular Songs: Finding individual songs

This guide will help you locate popular songs in printed music and on recordings.


Other pages under this tab will help you search the library catalog effectively and understand the different formats that scores and recordings come in.

Finding individual songs in the library catalog

Tips for finding individual songs or arias

1. It's best to search the library catalog by song title (or song title and composer) to start. Do a keyword search for [“song title”] and [composer]. Limit your search to printed music or recording. (Don't forget to use the card catalog for titles acquired by the library prior to 1980.) We don't recommend a "Title" search because your song may be from a larger work, or may be included in an anthology or collection with a different title. Of course, if you are looking for the entire work, or you know the name of the collection you need, you could do a search for title = West Side Story, for example.

2. If that doesn't work, you may need to determine if your piece comes from a larger work

(e.g., song cycle, opera, oratorio, cantata). Use the Grove Dictionary (look under the composer's works list) or ask at the Reference Desk to find this information.

3. If you can't find the song by searching our catalog, you may need to check a print index to determine if the song is part of a larger printed anthology. See the "Song Indexes" tab of this guide.


Some useful library catalog subject headings


Singing --Diction.

--Vocal scores with piano.

Songs (Medium voice) with orchestra --Vocal scores with piano.

Songs (High voice) with instrumental ensemble--Scores.

Songs, [country]

***For more examples, see the "subject headings" tab attached to this tab.

Subject Guide

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Music and Performing Arts Library
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Urbana, IL 61801
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Subjects: Dance, Music, Theatre