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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Finding Individual Songs

This guide will help you locate individual songs in printed music and on recordings. It also includes resources for verifying work titles and using song indexes.


This page can help you find individual songs or arias through the library catalog.

  • If you are looking for a particular song and you know the title and composer, check out the boxes below that cover search and verification tips
  • If you are just hoping to browse the catalog to see what resources are available, try browsing with some of the subject headings recommended in the box at the bottom of this page

Tips for Finding Individual Songs or Arias

  1. Search the Library catalog by song title (or song title and composer) to start.
    • Do a keyword search for [“song title”] and [composer] and the limit your search results to scores or audio, depending on your need.
    • We don't recommend a "Title" search in the catalog because the 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 by title such as 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 Oxford Music Online (look under the composer's works list) or ask at the Reference Desk to find this information. If you are trying to identify the opera a specific aria comes from, use the appendixes at the back of the New Grove dictionary of Opera
  3. If you can't find the song by searching for its title or the title of the larger work in 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.
  4. You may also be able to locate the song or aria in the composer's collected works edition (if there is one). Check the Grove composer's works list and refer to our page on Collected Works & Thematic Catalogs for more information.

Useful Catalog Subject Headings

Using the Advanced Search feature, you can browse by subject in our Library Catalog. This means conducting a search using a term from a pre-defined controlled vocabulary of headings used to classify materials in our catalog. This will give you more targeted results than doing a simple keyword search.

For more information on how to search by subject, refer to the instructions and screenshots on the Finding Books page. You can perform a subject search for any of the suggestions in bold below:

  • Songs (High Voice*) with Piano**
    • *or Low Voice or Medium Voice
    • **or Guitar or Instrumental Ensemble, etc.            
  • Vocal Duets* with Piano**
    • * or Trios or Quartets, etc.
    • ** or Instrumental Ensemble or Orchestra, etc.
  • Vocal Music [used where SONGS is inappropriate; books about vocal music as well as music editions]
  • Opera [books about opera]
  • Operas [musical works]
  • Operas--Excerpts
  • Singers
  • Singing
  • Singing--Instruction and study
  • Singing--Diction
  • Songs--Texts
  • Song cycles
  • Voice
  • Voice Culture