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How to Find Music in the Library Catalog

Did you know that the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has one of the largest public library music collections in the country? But if you search our catalog under title for "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony," it might not look like we have anything!

Using the library catalog to find music can be challenging, to say the least. (Some might say "tricky," others, "frustrating!") While a bestselling author like Stephen King will have about 500 items listed in the catalog, a composer like Beethoven lists over 3,000! (We won't mention J. S. Bach, with 8,000 entries!) And many of those items will have very similar titles; he did write nine symphonies, more than thirty piano sonatas, and more than fifteen string quartets, after all. Multiply that by the various editions and arrangements for scores, and the different performances on CD, and things can get very complicated!

Why bother using the catalog, then, you may ask? Well, mix those 3,000 items up with a few other prolific composers, and put them on the shelves, and it can be like searching for a needle in a haystack to find the item without using the catalog!

Fortunately, the music librarians have come up with a few suggestions that can make finding your music much, much easier! However, if you don't find what you are looking for, please check with one of us, we have many other ways of finding things!

 

Finding a song

There are many ways to find songs in our collections. One of them is outlined here, but there are also numerous printed indexes and other resources that we use for such a search. See also Finding Songs in Songbooks & Anthologies.

  1. Click on the "Advanced Keyword" search button.
  2. Type the name of the song. For songs with multiple-word titles, type the name in quotation marks. For example:
    "you're the one that i want"
    Tip #1! If you have a more generic title, try adding specifics:
    always and berlin
    Tip #2! For songs that are part of a larger work, such as a musical, an opera or a song cycle, try a search by the title of the larger work:
    gilbert and sullivan and iolanthe
    Tip #3! If you still don't find the song you want, look in collections of the composer's songs.
  3. Specify whether you want a "Music CD" or a "Music Score" in the "Material Type" box.
  4. Specify whether you want to look only in one library by choosing that library (e.g. "Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main") in the "Location" box.
  5. If you don't find what you want, ASK A LIBRARIAN!

 

Finding an Opera or Ballet

  1. Click on the "Advanced Keyword" search button.
  2. Type the name of the composer and the name of the opera or ballet, using the following format:
  3. stravinsky and pulcinella
    Tip! Using the original language of the piece is the best way to look for it. For example:
    mozart and nozze di figaro (finds Mozart's Marriage of Figaro)
    bach and wohltemperierte klavier
    (finds Bach's Well-tempered Clavier)
  4. Specify whether you want a "Music CD" or a "Music Score" in the "Material Type" box.
  5. Specify whether you want to look only in one library by choosing that library (e.g. "Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main") in the "Location" box.
  6. If you don't find what you want, ASK A LIBRARIAN!

 

Finding a Symphony

  1. Click on the "Advanced Keyword" search button.
  2. Type the name of the composer, the word "symphonies" and the number and/or the key, using the following format:
  3. beethoven and symphonies and no 5
    haydn and symphonies and c major and no. 30
    Tip! Using the opus number or composer's catalog number is the best way to search for it. For example:
    mozart and k 550 (finds his Symphony No. 40)
    brahms and op 68 (finds his Symphony No. 1)
  4. Specify whether you want a "Music CD" or a "Music Score" in the "Material Type" box.
  5. Specify whether you want to look only in one library by choosing that library (e.g. "Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main") in the "Location" box.
  6. If you don't find what you want, ASK A LIBRARIAN!

 

Finding a Concerto or Sonata

  1. Click on the "Advanced Keyword" search button.
  2. Type the name of the composer, the word "concertos," the name of the instrument and, if necessary, the number, using the following format:
  3. prokofiev and concertos violoncello
    beethoven and sonatas piano
    Tip #1! Using the opus number or composer's catalog number is the best way to search for it. For example:
    vivaldi and rv 539
    (finds his Concerto for 2 horns, strings and continuo)
    bach and bwv 1014
    (finds his Sonata for Violin and Continuo in B minor)
    Tip #2! If you don't find the concerto or sonata you want, look in collections of the composer's works, such as an edition of the complete piano sonatas or complete violin concertos.
  4. Specify whether you want a "Music CD" or a "Music Score" in the "Material Type" box.
  5. Specify whether you want to look only in one library by choosing that library (e.g. "Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main") in the "Location" box.
  6. If you don't find what you want, ASK A LIBRARIAN!

 

Finding a Particular Performance

  1. Click on the "Advanced Keyword" search button.
  2. Type what you are looking for, using the formats described above for the individual piece, adding the name of the performer at the end of the search:
  3. verdi and ballo in maschera and pavarotti
    (finds Pavarotti performing Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera)
    mahler and symphonies and no 4 and chicago
    (finds the Chicago Symphony performing Mahler's 4th Symphony)
    k 216 and perlman
    (finds Itzhak Perlman playing Mozart's Violin Concerto in G major)
  4. Specify whether you want a "Music CD" or a "Music Score" in the "Material Type" box.
  5. Specify whether you want to look only in one library by choosing that library (e.g. "Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main") in the "Location" box.
  6. If you don't find what you want, ASK A LIBRARIAN!

 

Still not finding it? Some exceptions

  • Some works are best found using the specific name of the piece, even though they are concerti or other specific form of music. These include:
  • Cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione = Vivaldi's Four Seasons
    Brandenburgische Konzerte
    = Bach's Brandenburg Concertos

 

Still too many hits? Some final suggestions

  • Sometimes there are so many arrangements of a piece that you still have to go through too many items to find the one you want. Or you are looking for a full ballet but everything that comes up seems to be the suite. If that happens, try using the term "and not" in your search to eliminate the arrangements or the suites, using the following format:
  • bach and brandenburgische konzerte and not arr
    copland and billy the kid and not suite

 

Further Explanation

For all the reasons described in the introduction above, music librarians have had to come up with a way to handle the large number of similarly titled works by so many different composers. An additional factor is that the same pieces are often called several different titles, so one CD may say it contains "Beethoven's Symphony No. 5," while another will call it "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony."

Music librarians look at each score and each recording that comes into the library and assign a standard title, called a "uniform title," to each piece so that it can always be found the same way. The tips listed above make use of those standard titles when they say to search in the original language or use the word "symphonies" or "concertos." For an in depth guide to uniform titles, use the Indiana University Music Library's Making the Most of the Music Library: Using Uniform Titles.