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University at Buffalo Libraries

Music Library

Search Tips for Music

Search tips here focus on music materials, but additional help is available to review before or with this guide. If you would like general assistance with searching for materials and limiting by format in the Libraries Catalog, please refer to Help-Searching Tips. For general assistance with the Classic Catalog, please see Help-Classic Catalog. Search tips here cover the Catalog and Classic Catalog. Each has advantages and disadvantages when searching for music materials. You may wish to experiment with both to determine which best suits your needs. For further assistance, please contact one of the music librarians.


UB Libraries Catalog - Search Tips for Music

When to use the Libraries Catalog

  • You are looking for materials in more than one format.
  • You want to begin with a large number of results, then narrow by format, author, date, or other criteria.
  • You don’t have a specific title in mind.
  • You want to limit your results to a very specific format or formats (CDs, DVD, vinyl, cassettes, newspapers, online resources, etc.)
  • You need to be able to see cover images of items.
  • You want to sort your results by year of publication.
  • You plan to use a simple keyword search.

How to connect to the Catalog from the UB Libraries home page

Select Catalog above the search box. If you are on a mobile device or if you do not see a dropdown menu for author, title, or subject, please go to Find Library Materials in the main menu, then select Catalog.

catalog search

Begin your search here. Once you search, you can then limit your results to a specific kind of material (scores, recordings, video, books, etc.). This is a keyword search box, so order does not matter unless you are enclosing search phrases in parentheses.

If you are looking for works by a particular author, composer, performer, conductor, musical group, lyricist, or librettist, you can select “Author” from the drop-down box.

If you know the title of the book, musical work, or album, you can select “Title” from the drop-down box.

The option for “Subject” limits your search to Library of Congress Subject Headings and Genres. Topics, places, people, and musical works can all be subjects. The terms used for Library of Congress Subject Headings are from an official list, so if you are not sure what term is used, leave the menu set to “All Fields” when you first start your search.

“All Fields” searches everywhere in the catalog record, so you can combine authors, titles, subjects, publishers and words from notes and tables of contents in this box.

Once you complete a search, you can limit your search further using the filter options on the left.


Call Number Filter and Search – Scores and Recordings

Because the Music Library uses a unique classification system, the filter (M) and call number browse is not a reliable method for locating scores. Recordings in the Music Library are given accession numbers, not call numbers, so the call number feature should not be used for recordings.

Format Filter

To look for a specific format or type of content, use filter options under Format. Some options are broad and include multiple formats, such as “Sound recording,” which includes music and spoken word in any format, or “Videorecording,” which includes both DVDs and VHS tapes. You can choose a more specific format if it is displayed in the list.

Genre Filter – Scores

You will see the terms scores, parts, vocal scores, etc. under Genre. Please note that these terms are from the Library of Congress Subject Headings. This means they are not used for every item of printed music. For example, music for one instrument will not appear with “Scores” under Genre. The terms under genre are reliable, but they are not comprehensive. Instead, use the “Music Score” filter under Format, which is used for all printed music.

Item Availability

Anything with location “Music Library” is located in the Music Library if available. If the status is “Checked out” but there is no call number, please click on the title to see if the item is in process. This is shown in the example below. In the Classic Catalog, items will display as “In Process” in the Location/Call# column. In-process items at the Music Library can often be checked out even if the Delivery+ link is not visible. Please ask Music Library staff for assistance.

call number

in process
Classic Catalog-Search Tips for Music

When to Use the Classic Catalog

  • You want to browse an alphabetical list of titles, authors, call numbers, or subjects.
  • You want to browse by call number.
  • You want to construct advanced phrase, Boolean, or nested parenthetical searches.
  • You have a specific item in mind and need to find it quickly.
  • You want to add limits to your search or use keywords in specific fields before you begin.
  • You want to be able to search by a specific publisher or ISBN.
  • You are an expert searcher and want access to common command language searches.
  • You want to utilize references for titles, names, or subjects (e.g., Chaikovsky, see Tchaikovsky) when browsing.

    How to Connect to the Classic Catalog from the UB Libraries Home Page

    Select Find Library Materials, then Catalog. When the search box appears, select the link for Classic Catalog. If you are on a mobile device and do not see this option, please use the direct link to Classic Catalog.


    Advanced Search Format Limits

    In Advanced search, you can choose to limit by format before you begin

    To limit to music scores and recordings, select Music.
    To limit to recordings only, select Audio Music.
    To limit to scores only, select Printed Music.
    To limit to video, select Film/Video.

    Call Number Browse

    Browse by call number is available through the Browse An Alphabetical List menu in the Classic Catalog Advanced Search. Books at the Music Library are shelved by LC call number. Scores and CDs need to be browsed by “Textual” call number

    Advanced Search Index and Keyword Menu Options

    “Author” includes composers, performers, editors, and other contributors. If you use the Browse an Alphabetical List feature, order is important. For authors, this usually means Lastname, Firstname, or the name of a performing group in direct order. You do not need to enter the complete name to use the browse feature.

    “Title” will browse or searches by item title or uniform title.

    The “Publisher” browse and keyword searches aren’t limited to book publishers—these include music publishers, record labels (Columbia, Deutsche Grammophone, Canteloupe) and video production companies (Kultur, PBS).

    Advanced search does not offer searches specifically by music publisher number or record label number. These are included as options in the Expert search. In the Expert search box, search these numbers preceded by 028=, such as 028=TROY1234.


    Keywords and Phrases

    The default setting in Basic and Advanced Search is keyword (all terms, in any order), rather than phrase. To use phrases, which search exactly what you type, enclose the terms in quotation marks, e.g. “tenor saxophone”. Phrase searches can be combined with keyword searches. “AND” (combining your search terms) is automatic. Here are just some examples:

    Composer and work or genre: Mozart requiem; Tchaikovsky ballets; Verdi Otello
    Genre or instrument: “tenor saxophone” jazz; “bass clarinet”
    Performer and record label: Duke Ellington “Blue Note”
    Composer and publisher: Britten Boosey Hawkes
    Composer, performer, and work: Gershwin Price “Porgy and Bess”; Beethoven Fidelio Klemperer; Schubert Moore Fischer Dieskau
    Types of score: musicals vocal scores piano
    To include a common word otherwise skipped: sonatas “A major”
    Other combinations: Beethoven symphonies Liszt Breitkopf; Beethoven symphonies Liszt Leslie Howard

    You can combine searches with Boolean operators OR or NOT to create more complex searches, such as:

    “New York Philharmonic” NOT Bernstein
    Wagner overtures NOT Ring
    Rossini overture NOT ((Guillame OR William OR Wilhelm) Tell)
    Beatles NOT “Yellow submarine”

    Truncation and Nesting

    The symbols ? and * (question mark or asterisk) are used at the end of words to indicate any ending after that. These are useful if you are not sure to use a singular term or plural (symphony or symphonies). Keep in mind when truncating that some common musical terms, especially when truncated, are common outside of music: organ? includes organism, organization, organic; opera? includes operation, operator; “mass” or “gender” can have musical or nonmusical meanings. Truncation is useful if it is unlikely there will be irrelevant results. The pound sign, #, is used as a wildcard for one or no characters within a word

    symphon* . . .
    sonat* . . .
    (opera OR operas) . . .
    josquin (desprez or des prez) . . .
    (“figured bass” OR continuo) reali#ed harpsichord . . .

    Common subject headings for scores and recordings

    Symphonies
    Operas
    Musicals
    String quartets
    Concertos (Piano); Concertos (Violin); etc.
    Sonatas (Violin and piano); Sonatas (Piano); etc.
    Songs (High voice) with piano; Songs (Low voice) with piano
    Song cycles
    Popular music—1991-2000; Rock music—2001-2010; etc.