Music Research Guide: Recordings

Librarian-selected resources for students of music.

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Steps for Success Keyword Searching for Recordings

Many music titles are comprised of generic terms such as sonata, trio, concerto, etc.  Those terms vary country to country (e.g., Sonata vs. Sonate or Trio sonata vs. Sonata a tre).  To complicate matters even further, distinctive titles usually reflect the language of the composer (e.g., Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune vs. Prelude to the afternoon of a Fawn)

Here are some tips for helping you use keyword searching effectively in a library catalog when looking for sound recordings:

  1. If the title consists of a generic term, search using the English form (sonata vs, sonate)
  2. If the title is distinctive, search it in it's original language if known (Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune vs. Prelude to the afternoon of a fawn).  If the title is too long, choose words in the title that are the most unique
  3. Always include the composer's last name
  4. If the piece has an opus number or thematic catalog number (e.g., BWV numbers for Bach), include that number as a keyword (e.g., Bach concerto BWV 1062).  If you do not know the opus/thematic catalog number, go to Oxford Music Online and find it in the composer's list of complete works.  You can also search Wikipedia by composer for opus/thematic catalog numbers found in the list of composer's works.
  5. If you are looking for a particular label  (e.g., Decca) or performer (e.g., Bolsom), add that term to your search

 

Many music titles are comprised of generic terms such as sonata, trio, concerto, etc.  To complicate matters even further, the title of a score usually reflects the language of the country that the score was published in.  So, a "sonata" could also be "sonate,"  or a "trio sonata" could also be "sonata a tre."

Here are some tips for helping you use keyword searching effectively in a library catalog:

  1. If the title consists of a generic term, search using the English form (sonata vs, sonate)
  2. If the title is distinctive, search it in it's original language if known (Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune vs. Prelude to the afternoon of a fawn).  If the title is too long, choose words in the title that are the most unique
  3. Always include the composer's last name
  4. If the piece has an opus number or thematic catalog number (e.g., BWV numbers for Bach), include that number as a keyword (e.g., Bach concerto BWV 1062).  If you do not know the opus/thematic catalog number, go to Oxford Music Online and find it in the composer's list of complete works.  You can also search Wikipedia by composer for opus/thematic catalog numbers found in the list of composer's works.
  5. If you are looking for a  specific edition (e.g., Henle) or editor, include that term, name, etc.

 

Need the Opus Number?

First, look up the composer in Groves.

Not in Groves?

You may need to consult a thematic catalog.

NEIU's thematic catalogs are shelved under ML134 on either the 1st or 3rd floors of the library.

You can also search Google for your composer, as some thematic catalogs are available free online.

Need help?

Joan Schuitema's picture
Joan Schuitema
Contact:
j-schuitema@neiu.edu
773-442-4446
Subjects:Music