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In this guide, you'll find ways to get started on academic research in music, as well as sources for scores and online audio. There are also tools to help with music theory, both aural and written, and writing guides. Enjoy! ♫

Finding music scores in the library

Locating a musical score for performance or study can often be difficult.  Does the score you want exist in the form you need it in?  Is it owned by Brown, or can you get it through ILL?  Sometimes, especially for a work you wish to make part of your long-term performance repertoire, it makes sense to acquire your own copy.  The tools on this page will help you figure out whether the music you want is currently available, either for sale or through the library system.

The search for materials to use in performance study is a little different from other subjects.  Rather than casting a wide net to gather a lot of information, often a search for performance materials is very specific: a particular musical work, a particular format or subformat, even a particular edition.

When searching for such materials, I strongly recommend starting with the library catalog, Josiah, rather than the general search box that shows up on the library homepage.  That is because the catalog works better when you are looking for something very specific rather than trying to gather a lot of information, and because you are also typically looking for a particular format (i.e. a score or a recording, not books or articles), which is something that Josiah can handle better.


1. Use the advanced search function

2. Use the author/title combination to get better results

      → The author search also works for the names of performers, including ensembles or groups

3. Make sure to designate the format: score, audiovisual, manuscript?  What is it that you need at the moment?

For example, this shows a search for the score of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait.

This works well for works with distinctive titles (such as Lincoln Portrait or Don Giovanni).  But what about symphonies, sonatas, or piano trios?  Tips: use wildcards (in Josiah: a single asterisk * for 0-5 additional characters, two asterisks ** for open-ended wildcarding), figure out the uniform title (see below), and add the instrumentation into a keyword search.  Remember that in music, variations on the title will often be in another language (i.e. concerto = Konzert).

If you are having difficulty finding a score in our catalog, please contact the Orwig Music Library circulation staff (401-863-3759).

If Brown does not own the piece of music you are searching for, you can sometimes find it through Interlibrary Loan or digitized online. Always take care with the question of legal rights before you publicly perform or broadcast any piece of music.

Preferred titles tutorial

One of the biggest problems in searching for pieces of music is that the titles are tricky.  A distinctive title such as Lincoln Portrait is easy enough—but how many works are called Symphony?  Thousands!  How about variations such as SinfoniaSymphonie, Sinfonie?  What about arrangements of that work for piano four-hands or for wind band?

The uniform title was developed to help with this problem.  (Also, always remember to use the Author/Title search as shown above!)  If you want to know more, please see this tutorial on using preferred titles:

Indexes to Music