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Music Research - finding the score

How to locate music scores for research and performance at Trexler Library.

Other information about the piece

These could include movement, sequence, opus, or thematic catalog numbers. 

The opus number is the "work number" that is assigned to a musical composition, or to a set of compositions, to indicate the (approximate) chronological order of the composer's production.  It is often abbreviated as 'op.'

thematic catalog (or thematic index) is a list of a composer's works. Most will include all of the relevant information to locate the work along with an 'incipit' or musical representation of the theme(s) of the work--hence 'thematic catalog'. Many thematic catalogs use the opus number, but some use a different numbering system. Examples of some common thematic catalog number prefixes include:

  • "BWV" = Bach Werke Verzeichnis (J.S. Bach)
  • "D" = Deutsch (Schubert)
  • "Hob." = Hoboken (F.J. Haydn)
  • "K" = Kochel (Mozart)
  • "RV" = Ryom-Verzeichnis (Vivaldi)

You can often find thematic catalog numbers using the "works" section at the end of composer entries in The New Grove Dictionary (or Grove Music Online).

Some pieces are described using the key that they are written in. For example:

  • Mozart's Oboe Concerto in F major, K.293
  • Scarlatti's Keyboard Sonata in G minor, K.97

Keys are sometimes expressed in their original language as well, e.g. C-sharp Minor, F Major, B-flat Minor, D-Dur, A-Moll, etc.

  • Major = Dur (German) = Maggiore (Italian)
  • Minor (often in lowercase) = Moll (German)

Terms in other languages can be found in Music translation dictionary

Knowing the instrument(s) or ensemble groupings that a work was written for:

e.g., string quartet, wind band, violin (solo), brass quintet, symphony orchestra, etc. 

Remember:  Sometimes works are arranged or transcribed for an instrument or instruments other than those for which the piece was originally written.  This is helpful information to know when you are trying to find a score.

Scores in Trexler Library are classified according to the instrumentation of the score "in hand," NOT the original instrumentation.  Therefore an orchestral piece arranged for piano would be classified along with other piano works, while the original would be located with orchestral pieces. 

Scores are sold in many formats for different purposes:

  • Full score = conductor's score = Partitur (this score shows all the parts in "score order")
  • Mini-score = miniature score = study score (this score also shows all parts but is usually no taller than 24 cm or 9 inches)
  • Vocal score = piano-vocal score (shows only a reduced score for voice accompanied by the piano)
  • Piano reduction = full score (usually an instrumental accompaniment for a solo) reduced so that it can be played on the piano.
  • Score and parts (or just parts) for solo music with piano or chamber music.

For more information on score formats and editions, see the "Music Editions" tab.

Search tips

Don't forget --

Encompass Search uses KEYWORD searching, so your search will locate records with all of your search terms anywhere in the record, and not necessarily in the order you want.

  • To search for a KNOWN TITLE, enter your search in quotes.  This will force Encompass Search to locate the terms together in the order you specify. 
  • You can combine terms using boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT (be sure to capitalize them!)
  • Once you have run your basic search, use the FILTERS on the left-hand side of the results page to narrow your results by FORMAT, AUTHOR, LANGUAGE, or TOPIC.
  • Use the SUBJECTS hot links found within the item record under the "View Description" drop down. These are Library of Congress SUBJECT headings, and can be used to find additional resources on the same or similar topics, or of a similar GENRE.
  • Use TRUNCATION (i.e., shortening a word to its root or base form using a designated symbol) for words that might have more than one significant form, OR for terms that might have alternative spellings.​​

For more information on Truncation or other Advanced Searching Techniques in Encompass Search see our "Guide to Encompass Search"