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Getting Started Guide: Music Research: Books

Music Research Resources

Getting Books from Other Libraries

If you need to acquire a book that CNU Library does not have, you have other options:  

Request the book through Interlibrary Loan (ILL@CNU)

   -usually takes 7-10 days.

Visit another library that has the book

   -get a VTC (Virginia Tidewater Consortium) card at the Circulation Desk

   -allows you to check out books from participating libraries


Ebooks at CNU

Ebook Central (from ProQuest) is probably the largest collection, so it might be a good place to start.

Search CNU Online Catalog



Search tips for music

Keyword Search

  • Use OR to expand your search:  Strings OR Brass (will find items containing EITHER term, but not both)
  • Use "quotes" to search for phrase: "Rite of Spring"
  • use AND NOT to eliminate terms:  Vivaldi AND NOT Concertos

Limit By Format

  1. From the search page, select "Advanced"
  2. enter your search terms and limit by:
  • Location:  Reference for dictionaries and encyclopedias, Media for CDs and Videos, Vogan for Vogan collection (a large donated collection of scores and books about music)
  • Material Type: Printed Music for scores, Music Audio for CDs, DVD or Video for videos.
  • Date (published date)

Subject Search (Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings)

  • Do Subject search for composer/musician LAST names to find items ABOUT them.
  • Most major musical genres have assigned LC Subject Headings:  Opera, String Quartets, Motion Picture Music, Concertos (Piano), etc.
  • Otherwise, when you find an appropriate item in your keyword search, look at the assigned subject headings and click on one of them to find all items in the library assigned that subject.

"Preferred titles" for music

Since titles for the same work on recordings and scores will vary, it is important to have a "standardized" version of the title.

  • These are the "preferred titles" for musical works.
  • Generally speaking, they are in the plural (unless the composer only wrote "one" of a particular genre, like symphony or string quartet)

For example:  On a CD or score, Mozart,  Piano Concerto no. 27 might read:

  • Piano Concerto no. 27 OR
  • Concerto for piano in B-Flat Major OR
  • Piano Concerto, K. 595
  • etc.

"Preferred Title" formats look something like this (they may also vary greatly from this depending on the work):

  • [Form of composition/title of composition], [instrumentation], [number (such as an opus or other catalog number)], [Key]

Therefore, the proper"Preferred Title" for the above Mozart  work is:  

Concertos, piano, orchestra, K. 595, Bb Major

Other examples of "Preferred Titles" (more familiar titles in brackets, FYI):

  • Nozze di Figaro [Mozart, Marriage of Figaro]
  • Trios, piano, violin, horn, op. 40, Eb Major [Brahms Horn Trio]
  • Schone Mullerin. Trockne Blumen [Trockne Blumen from Schubert's Die Schone Mullerin]
  • Quartets, strings, H. III, 64, D major [Haydn, String Quartet, op. 64 no. 5]
  • Symphonies, no. 1, D major [Mahler, Symphony no. 1]

Knowing about "Preferred Title" will be extremely important as you search for scores, recordings, etc. for your music lessons and your research. 

See the Indiana University guide to using Preferred Titles

Library of Congress Call Numbers "M Class"

Here's a brief guide to some of the important Library of Congress call number areas in Music:

M:  Music scores and music recordings are generally classed as M.

M2: Authoritative scores/editions

M3: Composers' complete editions

M20-M39: Piano music

M40-M59: Stringed Instruments

M60-M111: Wind/Brass instruments

M177-M990: Music for 2 or more solo instruments

M1000-1160: Orchestra/Chamber Orch./String Orch. (including concerti)

M1500-1527: Secular vocal music--Dramatic music (Operas, musicals)

M1528-M1998: Secular vocal music (other-Songs, etc.)

M1999-M2199: Sacred vocal music

ML50:  Opera Libretti

ML100:  Music Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (general)

ML102:  Music Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (arranged by topic)

ML110-111.5:  Music Librarianship

ML128:  Music Bibliography (arranged by topic)

ML134:  Composer Bibliographies

ML156: Dicsographies

ML159-161:  Music History (general)

ML410:  Composer Biography

ML416-ML429:  Performer/musician Biography

ML800-ML927: Stringed Instruments-History

ML929-ML990: Wind Instuments-History

ML1700: Opera, Musical Theater-History and Criticism

ML1711: Opera, Musical Theater-United States-History and Criticism

ML2075: Film Music-History and Criticism

ML3506:  History of Jazz

ML3795:  Music as a Profession/Vocational Guidance

ML3797 : Musicology (general works)

ML3798: Ethnomusicology

MT:  Music Instruction and Study AND Music Theory

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