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Music Research Starter

Print scores in the library

Use the library's online catalog -- the search box on the library's homepage -- to search for scores owned by Doane Library and other libraries around the world. See "Helpful search tips!" to find out how to have more effective searches in the catalog.

Print scores in the library will have the item's availability and Library of Congress call number at the bottom of the brief record. For example:

AvailableDoane University ScoresSCORE M1001 .S567 op. 82 2001

In this example, you can see that the item is available, it's owned by Doane University, located in the Scores area, and its call number is SCORE M1001 .S567 op. 82 2001. See "Browsing by call number" to get an idea of how scores are categorized in the library.

  Scores NOT owned by Doane:  To find scores in other libraries, select the limiter "Libraries Worldwide" in the left column. To get these scores you will need to make an interlibrary loan request. Click on the "Request item through interlibrary loan" button on the item's full record screen and fill out the boxes in pink (required information). See the library's Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery page for more information about this service.   


Definitions for scores*


Full score: complete composition for orchestra with or without voices, as it is intended to be performed, with all parts displayed on separate staff. If printed, it is generally large enough to conduct from (i.e., Conductor's score).

Miniature score (Study score, Pocket score): a printed full score that is reduced in size to be used for study purposes.

Condensed  score: is either an ensemble score in which the whole is condensed or reduced on to a small number of staves (as distinct from a full score, and also called a ‘short score’), or a composer’s score of an ensemble work, showing his or her intentions on a few staves, with annotations, to be elaborated and fully written out later.

Part: music that is issued for a single instrument or voice

Performance score (Playing score): a full score intended for use in place of a part during performance, typically by a pianist in chamber music. It is not intended for scholarly study, since it may not discuss editorial decisions.

Piano score: is an arrangement for solo piano of any ensemble composition; this term is sometimes used as a synonym for ‘vocal score.’ 

Vocal score: or ‘piano-vocal score’ is an arrangement of an ensemble composition including voices, in which the instrumental parts are reduced for piano (normally solo) or organ, while the vocal parts appear on separate staves.



Critical edition, Scholarly edition: an edition that contains expert commentary on the original sources. Published in full score, typically with critical notes and lists of readings, and often with supplements containing items composed for specific past performances.

Performing edition: a full or vocal score in which certain performance details, such as tempo, dynamics and phrasing, are supplied by the editor when they don't exist in the original work. 

Adaptation, Revision: a vocal or full score whose performing version is intended to make the work more acceptable to modern audiences, or whose existing sources are incomplete and therefore have been supplied by the editor. These editions also might be designed to work around instruments that no longer exist, or to improve upon weak areas of a libretto.

* Definitions are from Oxford Music Online.

Browsing by call number

The Doane Library categorizes and shelves books according to the Library of Congress Classification system. This is the general outline of LC numbers for scores if you want to browse, but your best bet is to search the catalog if you have a particular work in mind.

M1 - M3
Collections containing both instrumental and vocal music
  M2     Anthologies of masterworks
  M3     Composers' complete works
M5 - M1490
Instrumental music
M6 - M14   Organ music
M20 - M39   Piano music (M23: piano sonatas)
M180 - M298   Duets
M300 - M386   Trios
M400 - M486   Quartets (M452: string quartets)
M500 - M586   Quintets
M600 - M686   Sextets
M1000 - M1075   Orchestra
  M1001     Symphonies
  M1010 - M1011     Piano concertos
  M1012 - M1013     Violin concertos
M1100 - M1160   String orchestra
M1200 - M1270   Band
M1366   Jazz ensembles
M1473   Electronic music
M1497 - M2199
Vocal music
M1497 - M1998   Secular vocal music
  M1500     Opera full scores
  M1503     Opera vocal scores (accompaniment arranged for piano)
  M1530 - M1546     Secular choruses with ensemble accompaniment
  M1547 - M1600     Secular choruses with piano or unaccompanied
  M1611 - M1624     Secular songs for one voice
  M1619     Song collections (two or more composers)
  M1620     Song collections (one composer)
  M1990 - M1998     Secular vocal music for children
M1999 - M2199   Sacred vocal music
  M2000 - M2007     Oratorios
  M2020 - M2036     Sacred choruses and cantatas (with ensemble accompaniment)
  M2060 - M2101     Sacred choruses with piano or unaccompanied
  M2102 - M2114     Sacred songs for one voice
  M2115 - M2146     Hymnals

Online digital scores

These collections provide access to digital scores, many that are in the public domain:

What is "public domain"?

To protect the creative rights and market viability of artists such as music composers, governments have enacted legislation called copyright law as far back as the early 18th century. These grant the author or creator of an original work exclusive rights to copy, distribute and adapt the work, but there are time limitations to these rights. Once the duration of a copyright expires -- in the U.S. that is 95 years after publication or 70 years after the creator dies -- the work moves into the public domain. This means that exclusive intellectual property rights no longer apply to the work.