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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 be challenging.  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, you may use Classic Josiah, which can be better for finding specific items (and which is the only option if you want to search by Music Numbers such as the ISMN):

Or, you can search in New Josiah, starting your search in the big search box on the library's homepage:



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 in Classic Josiah.

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.  For more guidance about copyright, please see the music section of the Copyright Libguide.

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:

Finding works for specific combinations of instruments

An important point of reference for finding scores for specific combinations of instruments is subject headings.  The names of the instruments will be entered as a subject heading, as will particular groupings.

For example, look at this record for Jimmy Giuffre's Clarinet Quintet and make particular note of the subject heading:

Quintets (Clarinet, violins (2), viola, cello)

You can then click on this subject heading to find other materials we own that are for the combination clarinet, two violins, viola, and cello, then use the filters on the left side of the page to limit to scores.  Try this with other combinations of instruments!

Browsing the Stacks

Music scores in the Orwig Music Library are (mostly) organized by instrumentation.  So, once you have the call number of a work for the combination of instruments you want, you can find more works for that combination simply by looking at the scores that are next to it in the stacks.

Indexes to Music

Song Indexes

There are a number of indexes to songs in collections (many can be found at Orwig Ref. ML128.S3). Here are two frequently-used ones plus a website:

  • The Song Index of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (Orwig Ref. ML128.S3 L665 1998)
  • Song Index by Minnie Sears (Orwig Ref. ML128.S3 S31 1926)
  • Index to Arias and Art Songs in Collections (University of Washington Music Library)

Another way to find a particular opera aria is to find it in the vocal score for the opera of which it is a part.

Piano works in collections can often be found by using Piano Music in Collections: an Index by Rita M. Fuszek (Orwig Ref ML128.P3 F87 1982).


Repertoire lists (or bibliographies): In general these are available in the Orwig Reference Collection in the call number range ML128. Examples include:

ML128. C4 H5 1978 The Piano in Chamber Ensemble
ML128. G8 J36 1989 Classical Guitar Music in Print
ML128. S3 E8 1977 Repertoire for solo voice (bibliography of songs)
ML128. W5 P8 1997 Woodwind Music in Print