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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Music 313: The History of Music I

Introduction

This page will walk you through the process of finding scores and recordings using the library catalog.

  • The next box will explain the filters you can use in the catalog to limit and refine your results
  • The final box summarizes some general search tips you can use to find scores and recordings more efficiently

As you're searching, remember that MPAL has materials in a variety of formats, and it is important to look closely at an item's call number and item record to make sure you are choosing the format that best fits your need - you don't want to go to the trouble of looking for a score only to discover that it isn't in a format you can play from in performance or that it is missing the part you need.

If you need help reading an item record, check out our pages on distinguishing printed music formats and audio and video formats.

Searching for Scores & Recordings

When searching for printed music and recordings, it's often best to start with what you know about the piece and to use the default keyword search feature. 

A keyword search will check the terms you enter against almost every word in every part of an item's catalog record. This is important for music materials because the composer might not be listed in the author field, or there may be a small variation on the title (like foreign language titles). 

Then use the "Tweak your results" section in the catalog to get more specific. To learn more about refining your results, check out the next tabs in this box. Each tab shows a different filter you can use to make your results more specific.

A screenshot of a keyword search in the catalog.

Use the Resource Type facet to pick whether you want books, scores, audio recordings, or video. Limiting by format will eliminate a lot of irrelevant results from your search. 

Screenshot of library catalog with the tweak your results filter options

Consult the Subjects list in the Details section of the item record to determine what an item is about or what type of music the item contains. Subjects will tell you if the item contains is a score, vocal score, score and parts, etc.

The subjects listed in blue are also clickable; you can click on any of the subject headings listed in the record to initiate a new search for similarly classified materials.

screenshot of catalog record for a recording with the classifying subjects indicated

To see the full contents of an item, you must scroll down to the Details section. This is where you can see what works or tracks a recording includes or what chapter titles a collected anthology includes.

screenshot of catalog record for recording highlighting Contents and General Note sections

General Search Tips

Using the following tips will make your searching more efficient and effective.

  • Use quotation marks to keep phrases together
    • Search for a phrase (like "string quartets" or "rhythmic improvisation") with quotation marks to only retrieve results that include your terms in the exact order you specified. But be careful - make sure something is really a phrase or you might miss important results.
  • Use a truncation mark (an asterisk *) to retrieve variations of a word
    • For example: Symphon* finds symphony, symphonies, and symphonien
  • If you're searching for something that is part of a larger work, look for the work itself. For instance, search for the song cycle rather than a song within it:
    • For example: Schubert Winterreise rather than Schubert Gute Nacht
  • Search for distinctive titles in their original languages.
    • For instance: Handel Giulio Cesare; or Mozart Zauberflote