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Music Basics

Start here if you are just learning how to do music research at Butler.

Helpful search hints!

Don't forget --

  • Use KEYWORD searching initially to ID relevant records (using the WorldCat Discovery search box).
  • Use the LIMITERS on the left-hand side of the results page to narrow your results Note the "Musical recording" heading under which you can select a recorded medium and the "Musical score" heading which enables you to locate scores.
  • Use hot links found next to the term"Subjects" to find additional resources on the same or similar topics.  (These are Library of Congress SUBJECT or DESCRIPTOR headings)
  • Use TRUNCATION (i.e., shortening a word to its root or base form using a designated symbol, such as ?, * !, $) for words that might:

*Have more than one significant form, e.g., symphon* = finds symphony, symphonie, symphonien, symphonic, symphonies.

*Have alternative spellings (type as much as you KNOW is correct!)., e.g. Stravinsky or Stravinski

What to know when searching for music (scores or recordings):

To find a score or recording of a particular musical work in the Butler Libraries' holdings (using the "Start Research Here" box on the Libraries' homepage or via Naxos Music Online (streaming audio database), the following pieces of information will be helpful:

Composer’s [full] name:

For example:  Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Christian Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.  (N.B. four composers with the same last name; it's important to know a first name or first and middle name in this case.)

Also, remember to consider alternate spellings for names that are derived from a language that uses a non-Roman alphabet, ex. Russian, Hebrew, Chinese, etc. Russian names, such as Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky can be especially problematic. For example:  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Tchaikovsky also spelled Chaikovsky, Chaikovskii, or Tschaikowsky, and fully Anglicized version: Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. 

Title of the work in its original language:

For example:  Jeux d'eau (Fountains) / Ravel; Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) / R. Schumann; Le nozze di Figaro (Marriage of Figaro) / Mozart.

Alternative titles or nicknames:

For example:  "Moonlight Sonata"/"Mondschein-sonate" (Piano Sonata no. 14 in C-sharp Minor, op. 27, no. 2) / Beethoven

You can find more info in the "Works" section of the composer's main biographical entry in Grove Music Online (try doing a Cntrl-F search once you are in the Works section) and  A Dictionary of Music Titles by Adrian Room (REF ML 102 .T58 R6 2000).  N.B., Searching only by a work's nickname may cause you to not find certain things.  Not all publishers of scores or recordings use nicknames in the titles they provide.

Name of larger work from which piece comes (if applicable):

For example, a particular movement, such as "Clair de lune" ("Moonlight") from Suite bergamasque by Debussy.

Nationality of the composer:  This can help determine the language of your search terms.

For example:  piano = Klavier (German) = clavier (French, technically, "keyboard") = pianoforte (Italian) or sonata = Sonate (German) = sonate (French) = sonata (Italian)  N.B. Klaviersonate (sing) and Klaviersonaten (pl.) are compound words in German

**For more info, consult:  International Vocabulary of Music by Stephen Dembski et al (REF 108 .I49 1984)

Numbers associated with the work, such as sequence, opus, or thematic catalog numbers:  Examples of some common thematic catalog numbers include:

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

**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).

Key signature: e.g., C-sharp Minor, F Major, B-flat Minor, D-Dur, A-Moll, etc.

Instrumentation (or original instrumentation of work):  e.g., violin (solo), string quartet, wind band, brass quintet, etc.  (Remember:  Sometimes works are arranged or transcribed for an instrument or instruments other than those for which the piece was written.  This is helpful information to know when you are trying to find a score.)

Score format that you desire:

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)

vocal score = piano-vocal score

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 parts (for solo music with piano or chamber music)


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