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University at Buffalo Libraries

Music Library

Call Numbers for Scores

The scores in the Music Library are classified according to the system designed by George Sherman Dickinson (1888-1964), first Music Librarian at Vassar College. The Library uses the option which classifies music by original medium.

The ten classes and major subdivisions of the Dickinson Classification of Music are:

Historical Editions 01
Manuscripts 02
Facsimiles 04
Complete Works 05
Thematic catalogues 055
Methods, tutors, etc. 07
Jazz, rock, etc. 08
1 Keyboard

Clavier duos, trios, etc. 12
Organ 15
2 Bowed Strings
Violin & piano 21
Viola & piano 22
Violoncello & piano 23
Double bass & piano 24
3 Winds
Flute or recorder & piano 31
Oboe or English horn & piano 32
Clarinet & piano 33
Bassoon & piano 34
Horn & piano 35
Trumpet & piano 36
Trombone & piano 37
4 Plucked strings
Harp 41
Guitar 43
Mandolin 44
Lute 45
Percussion 46
Mechanical and miscellaneous instruments:

Solely electronic music
Musique concrete
5 Chamber ensembles
Bowed string ensembles 52
Wind ensembles 53
Plucked string with percussion 54
Bowed string & wind ensembles 55
6 Orchestral ensembles
Full orchestra 61
String orchestra 62
Band or large wind ensemble 63
Chamber orchestra 65
Concerti 661 -
Concerti grossi 665
Double, triple, etc., concerti 666
7 Vocal solo and solo ensembles
Voice solo & 1 instrument, secular 71
Folk music 74
Voice solo & 1 instrument, sacred 75
8 Choral ensembles
Secular choral works 81
Sacred choral works 85
9 Dramatic ensembles
Operas 91
Musical shows 933
Film or television music 935
Ballets 95
Incidental music 97

The scheme is mnemonic. In class 5, for instance, 52 is the number for string chamber music (5 denoting chamber music, 2 denoting strings); 53 is wind chamber music (5 for chamber music, 3 for winds).

The average call number consists of five lines. On the first line, M designates music. The second line is the classification number; this denotes the original medium of the work. The third line consists of the number used consistently for the composer, e.g., B39 for Beethoven. The fourth line describes the piece in hand: ov for overture, the first letter of a distinctive title, opus or thematic catalogue number. The fifth line is the first letter of the editor’s or publisher’s name.

M designates music
52 string chamber music
B39-4 Beethoven – 4 players
(18/1) opus 18, number 1
B Breitkopf & Härtel edition

The symbol = is used to show arrangement of a composition. 91=01 indicates a piano-vocal opera score; 85=01 designates a keyboard reduction of the original accompaniment of an oratorio or cantata.

For many items of music in the catalog, a uniform title is used to bring together all editions, versions, and arrangements of a given composition and all similar collections of the works of one composer. Titles assigned by the composer or titles of the first edition are considered the standard. For English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, the original language is used. For some titles in Russian, Czech, Hungarian, etc., the most common English title is used. For languages not using the Latin and Latin-derived alphabets, transliterations from the original alphabets are used. To locate compositions by medium, “Browse an Alphabetical List” and choose the index “Call Nos. (LC, NLM, Textual).” For example, browsing for M933 and M 933 will retrieve scores of musical shows, while M21 and M 21 will retrieve scores for compositions for violin and piano. If a collection of compositions includes all of a composer's works for a given medium, the third line of the call number is "a2" to indicate completeness.

M Chopin
11 [Piano music]

If the collection is incomplete, the title so states and the third line of the call number is "a3".

M Debussy
71 [Vocal music. Selections]

For more assistance, please ask a reference librarian.