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Kinds of sheet music

There are different kinds of sheet music. The most important are: score, part, piano excerpt, facsimile.

  • Score (or full score)

A score (plural: scores) contains the full representation of a musical work. All voices and instruments are noted down fully, usually one below the other, in a fixed order. Scores can differ greatly in volume and complexity. The score for a work for orchestra is often voluminous and complex: after all, an orchestra consists of dozens of instruments and all these instruments are noted down one below the other. The score of a work for a smaller ensemble is simpler. In the catalogue the scores are indicated as follows:

Pa-2 (large score, folio size)

Pa-4 (large score quarto size)

Pa-8 (study score, octavo size, also called "pocket score".)   

  • Part

A part contains the musical notation of one voice (vocal or instrumental) of a musical work. In the Utrecht University Library not many parts are available;  the collection mainly focusses on lecturers, students and researchers, not so much on musicians.

  • Piano reduction

Vocal-instrumental works (operas, oratorios, musicals, cantatas etc.) are not only published in the form of scores, but also as piano reductions. A piano reduction contains all vocal parts, besides a reduced version of the instrumental parts. This reduced version is noted down in the form of a piano part or organ part. In this way it is easier to accompany the  vocal parts. Also, piano reductions make it easier to study a work. In the catalogue they are indicated by KL UITTR. 

  • Facsimile

"Facsimile" means "make the same". The term "facsimile-edition" indicates photographic (and so: exactly the same) reproductions of special sheet music editions and manuscripts: for instance a photographic reproduction of sheet music published before 1800, or of  a sheet music manuscript in the handwriting of the composer himself (a so-called autograph). Facsimiles are important because they give researchers easy access to these remarkable sheet music prints and manuscripts

  • After 1945

After 1945 new forms of musical notation were produced, for instance "graphical" notation, in which use is made of other visual symbols than the traditional musical notation, as well as of several forms of "free" notation (without pitch, bars and/or length). Also mixed forms occur. In these musical notations the distinction between score and part may  not always be clear.

Is there any sheet music of the work I am looking for?

How do you know if a (reliable) sheet music edition exists?

Grove Music Online is the best site to check if there is a composition edited by musicologists. Go to Grove Music Online and search for the article on the composer whose sheet music you are looking for.  Click on "Works"(left column, at the bottom). Now you will get an overview of the complete works of the composer. At the top (immediately below Works) the scholarly edition of the work of the composer is mentioned, if it exists. Sometimes there are even several scholarly editions: in that case often an older and a more recent edition. The more recent edition was necessary because the scholarly view on the work of the composer has changed. For instance, in the case of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 

These scholarly editions of the complete works of a composer are almost always available in Utrecht University Library.

Under this heading you will find a list of all works by the composer. In what part of the scholarly edition(s) the separate works can be found is also listed.

If no scholarly edition exists, Grove Music Online often gives an alternative and also trustworthy edition.

Less known music composed before 1800 is often not available in print but only as manuscripts or handwritten copies. Those manuscripts can be found in all kinds of libraries. For many composers they have been well listed. In Grove Music Online you will also find where these manuscripts can be found, in case there are no printed editions available of the work in question. The locations are indicated by abbreviations. You will find an explanation  of the abbreviations under Abbreviations (in the left side bar).

Searching in WorldCat by composer or title

‚ÄčDo you know the name of the composer and the title of the composition?

If so, enter the name of the composer and one or more words from the title in “Search Utrecht University Library and beyond” Choose the option “See all results for".

Example 1: You are looking for the sheet music of the Sonata for piano and violin KV 30 by the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Enter Mozart  “kv 30”  (the quoation marks are needed to see the search terms as belonging together).   Now you can filter the search results as explained under the tab Searching in WorldCat Discovery Services (WorldCat). Clicking on the title and next on Description gives you more information about the item.

Example 2: You are looking for sheet music of the cantata Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht BWV 105 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Enter Bach gericht 105. Use filters as explained above. Clicking on the title and next on Description gives you more information about the item.

Do you only have the title of the composition? Or do you only know a few words from the title?

Go to Advanced search and next select Title. Enter one or more words from the title

Example: You are looking for the composition  Musique pour l'esprit en deuil.  

Enter musique deuil  at Title. Next use the filters as explained above. You are left with a number of results related to Musique pour l'esprit en deuil by Rudolf Escher. Click on Description to get more information about the title.

Do you know any other search terms? (for instance a pop group or a song title?)

Example:  you are looking for the sheet music of the Beatles song “Dig a pony”. Enter beatles pony at Search Utrecht University Library and beyond”. Select the option “See all results for".   Next use the filters as explained above.  Click on the title and next on Description to find out more.

Searching in WorldCat by instrumentation and genre

Searching by instrumentation and genre in WorldCat has its limitations. The best option is to use the name of the composer in combination with the instrumentation and/or genre. Please keep in mind the plural and singular forms in several languages.

Instrumental music
Example: You are looking for  piano sonatas by Joseph Haydn.

Enter at “Search Utrecht University Library and beyond”:  joseph haydn sonat*.  Select the option “See all results….”.  Filter your results by Musical score. You will see many titles (in Utrecht University Library alone more than 40), and not all for the piano.  You will have to select the relevant titles yourself.

Why "sonat*" and not "sonates"?
 The plural "sonates" is only used in Dutch and French. You will miss the editions published in other languages.

Why has the term "piano"not been added?

  • The word "piano" is not used in all languages (for instance the German"Klavier") and this results in you missing results.  This is also the case for other instruments:  klavecimbel/Cembalo/clavecin en fluit/Flaute/traverso.  
  • Some musicologists think that "piano"  is not the right instrumentation term for music from this period.

PLEASE NOTE:   Especially genre indications are not always provided. This means that the list of search results is not always complete.


Vocal and vocal-instrumental music

Searching by instrumentation is hardly possible in WorldCat. However, searching by genre (for instance madrigal, chanson, cantata, song, motet, mass) can be done quite well: these terms often occur in the WorldCat descriptions and are therefore included in your search. Because a certain genre often has a particular kind of instrumentation (for instance: choir; solo singing) you are in a way searching by instrumentation. Genre indications occur in several forms and instrumentations. But please note: they are often missing! Your list of search results will be often incomplete.

Example 1: you are looking for madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi.  At "Search Utrecht University Library and beyond” enter: " Monteverdi madrig*.  Select the  option  “See all results….” Next use the filters as explained before.
Example 2: You are looking for cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach. At “Search Utrecht University Library and beyond” enter:  bach johann cantat*  Select the option  “See all results….” Next use the filters as explained before.

An example in which searching by genre is unsuccessful:

You are looking for the motet Absalon fili mi  by Josquin des Prez. At“Search Utrecht University Library and beyond” enter:  josquin absalon.  Select the option “See all results….”.  Next filter on Musical Score.  You are left with a number of results.

Search again for this composition but in another way. At “Search Utrecht University Library and beyond”:  josquin absalon motet*  Select the option “See all results….”. Next filter on Musical score. Now you have a smaller number of search results.  In other words: in the search results after your first search action the term "motet" was missing in a number of descriptions.

Music written before 1800

The original music notation noted down before 1800 often differs from  the modern music notation. It is important for researchers to be able to study the original notation as well.  More and more digital versions of old prints and manuscripts with this notation are available on the internet. Also there are many fascimile editons of music written before 1800. And finally, Utrecht University Library has many of these original notations on microfilm or or microfiche. All these items can be found in WorldCat.

Example 1. You are looking for the manuscript Parijs, Bibliothèque nationale, Fonds latin 12044. At“Search Utrecht University and beyond” enter: parijs latin 12044 (this combination is specific enough). Now filter on Musical score and Utrecht University Library. One description is left. Under Availability you have two options:  “Utrecht University Library” and “Libraries Worldwide”. Click on “Libraries Worldwide”. Once again you get the option “Utrecht University Library”. Click on it. The title description that now appears shows that there are two ways to view this manuscript: 1) via a link to the digital version (“Full text”); 2) Under "Copies" you will see that the University Library also holds a microfilm of this manuscript.

Example 2. You want to find out what early prints and manuscripts with the works of composer Josquin dez Prez (ca. 1450-1521) are available for consultation. At “Search Utrecht University and beyond” enter Josquin (this search term is specific enough and the addition "des Prez" is often not present). Select the option “See all results….”. Go to Year in the left hand sidebar (Search tools); select Custom range, and enter “from 1450 through 1600”, and click on Change year. Next filter on Musical score. Now you have created a subcollection of music notations from the period between 1450 and 1600. Next you can use filters on the results in other ways:

  • Downloadable musical score:  the music notation is digitally available. Please note: this does not necessarily mean that you can view the music notation! That depends on the question if the digital publication in question is accessible for Utrecht University staff and students.
  • Utrecht University Library:    All results available via Utrecht University Library, in whatever form (via the internet, as a facsimile edition, on microfilm or microfiche). 
  • Libraries in The Netherlands:  idem, via all Dutch libraries included in WorldCat
  • Libraries Worldwide: idem,  worldwide. This last option is certainly relevant to original notations of music from before 1800: it relates to rare or eve unique material.

Example 3.  You are looking for an original notation of a work you know, for instance the motet Absalon fili mi by composer Josquin des Prez. Follow the steps as explained in Searching in WorldCat by composer and title and next use the filters as shown in example 2.

Do you want to find out more about an item? Click on the title and next on "Description".  Click on "Availability" for information about where to get hold of the item. A call number looking like this: "Library City CentreMUZ: mifi ....."  means that the University Library holds a microfiche or microfilm of the music notation in question.

Microfilms and microfiches can be consulted in the Unversity Library City Centre. It is possible to make prints. Please ask desk staff for assistance.

Oeuvre catalogues, thematic catalogues, Werkverzeichnisse by composers

Many compositions have a unique number, a Werkverzeichnis number or an opus number.  Some compositions have both. Such a number allows you a more specific search for sheet music.

In the box Searching for sheet music by composer and title two compositions are mentioned with a Werkverzeichnis number:

  • The sonata for piano and violin KV 30 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. KV means Köchel-Verzeichnis. In 1862 Ludwig von Köchel pubished this oeuvre catalogue (list of compositions) by Mozart. The list has later been revised and updated. Mozart's compositions are usually indicated by the KV number.
  • The cantata Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht BWV 105 by Johann Sebastian Bach. BWV means Bach Werke-Verzeichnis,from the oeuvre catalogue that Wolfgang Schmieder published in 1850. Bach's compositions are usually indicated by the  BWV number.

Such authoritative lists (thematic catalogues, oeuvre catalogues, Werkverzeichnisse) are created for many composers. As a rule, they are arranged by genre/instrumentation or chronologically. In Grove Music Online will find the Werkverzeichnis numbers in the article about the composer under the tab "Works". The library holds most of the thematic catalogues. These books contain much extra information, for instance (usually) the beginning of the composition with music notations and a complete overview of the manuscripts and editions which serve as sources for the composition.

If there is no Werkverzeichnis for a composer, the compositons often have opus numbers (the Latin word "opus" means work). Opus numbers are often provided by the composer himself or herself or by publishers of sheet music. Opus numbers are often less unambiguous than Werkverzeichnis numbers. They are assigned for practical use without scholarly presumptions. Several compositions accidentally have the same opus number and sometimes composers have updated the numbers they assigned earlier.