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A Guide to Music Research and Finding Music Resources

This guide will assist music users in finding music materials

Songs and Arias

Before you start searching for your song or aria, it may be helpful for you to recall (or look up):

  1. the title
  2. the title in the original language (if any)
  3. the composer's name (or at least the last name)
  4. the medium for which it was composed (if not piano and voice)

Then choose one of the following:

Searching in IUCAT

Try a title search first:
Title = buffalo gals
Title = an die musik

This will work only if the song is published separately.

If you know that the song is part of a larger work (collection, song cycle), do a title search for that work:
Title = winterreise
To separate scores from recordings limit your search by format.

If you know the name of the opera from which your aria is taken, search for that. (If you don't know the opera, look up the aria in the index at the back of The New Grove Dictionary of Opera  ML102 .O6 N5 1992 -- shelved on the Index Table in the Reference section or available at Oxford Music Online.)

For example, a title search for "Una furtiva lagrima" produces next to nothing:
Title = furtiva lagrima [note that "una", being an initial article, is omitted]
But a title search, or better, a keyword search, on the opera produces good results:
Title = elisir d'amore [note that L', being an initial article, is omitted, but the apostrophe is retained]
Keyword = elisir damore [here the apostrophe in d'amore is omitted]
If the above-mentioned searches fail, try a keyword search on the name of the song:
Keyword = nuit detoiles [the apostrophe in de'toiles is omitted]

This may work if the song or aria is part of an anthology or collection (and the titles of the songs or arias are listed in the Notes in the bibliographic record).

Songs by well-known composers are sometimes published in versions for high (soprano, tenor), medium (mezzo-soprano, baritone), and low (alto, bass) voice. You may add one of these words to your keyword search:
Keyword = winterreise AND medium

If you need help with an IUCAT search or with IUCAT searching techniques in general, contact the Reference Desk.


Single-Composer Collections

The songs of prolific song composers, such as Brahms, Faure, Schubert, Schumann, and Wolf, are frequently issued in multiple-volume complete sets, the individual songs in which are not listed in the Notes in the bibliographic records. Go to the shelf under the classification number M1620, where the collections are arranged roughly alphabetically by composer.


Complete Works

The songs and arias of major composers are generally included in their complete works. Again, individual songs are generally not listed in the Notes in the bibliographic records. To find which volume of a set of complete works contains the work you are looking for, check the list of works at the end of the article about the composer in The New Grove, or else look in Heyer, Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music(Ref. Index Table ML113 .H62 1980) or a thematic index of the works of the composer (generally in Ref. ML134, alphabetical by composer).

For example, to find the Bach aria "Mund und Herze steht dir offen," look in the thematic index of the works of Bach (BWV = Bach Werke-Verzeichnis; ML134 .B1 S3 1990). The index of opening lines tells us that this aria is part of Cantata 148, "Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens." You can then do the following keyword search using some important words from the title:
Keyword = bach AND bringet herrn


Multiple-Composer Anthologies and Collections; Folk Songs, Popular Songs

Many songs found in multiple-composer anthologies and collections are indexed in printed song indexes found in the Reference collection. Song indexes list songs, usually by title (some also by first line), and the anthologies or collections in which they may be found (generally listed at the front of the book or section). Some of our copies of the song indexes listed below have the IU Music Library call numbers written in next to the anthologies and collections we own (these volumes are indicated with a * in the list below). Beware: all song indexes are incomplete and out of date.

(Ref.) ML128 .S3 D29 * De Charms & Breed, Songs in Collections: An Index. 1966. Lists classical art songs. Alphabetical by composer.

(Ref.) ML128 .S3 E8 Espina, Repertoire for the Solo Voice: A Fully Annotated Guide to Works for the Solo Voice Published in Modern Editions and Covering Material from the 13th Century to the Present, 2 vols. 1977. Lists classical art songs and some arias. Subdivided under nationality of composer, then alphabetical by composer. Includes some biographical information on the composers. Annotated.

(Ref.) ML128 .S3 F47 Ferguson, Song Finder: A Title Index to 32,000 Popular Songs in Collections, 1854-1992. 1995. Compiled from collections held by the State Library of Louisiana.

(Ref.) ML128 .S3 G64 Goleeke, Literature For Voice: An Index of Songs in Collections and Source Book for Teachers of Singing. 1984. Lists the contents of specific collections by title and indicates the pitch-compass of the songs.

(Ref.) ML128 .S3 H388 * Havlice, Popular Song Index. 1975. Main volume, plus three supplements. Lists only popular and some jazz songs, including many folk songs in arrangements, alphabetically by title.

(Ref.) ML128 .S3 S41 * Sears, Song Index: An Index to More than 12000 songs in 177 Song Collections Comprising 262 Volumes. Lists art songs by composer, title, and first line. Note: also look in the supplement at the end of the volume.

Using an Instrumental Arrangement to Your Advantage

Sometimes, when you are searching by song title, IUCAT will give you only a listing for an instrumental arrangement of the piece. Do not despair. Usually, in the "Title" section of the record the source of the song is given. This may include identifying numbers (opus, Koechel, BWV, etc.) or the name of a larger work from which the song/aria was excerpted. You can use this information in your keyword search.
Keyword = Brahms AND op 49