Building a good search for music materials


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A (very) brief primer on building a good search in library and other catalogs for music materials like scores and recordings.

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Building a good search for music materials

  1. 1. Building a good search for music materials Kirstin Dougan Music and Performing Arts Librarian University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign dougan@illinois.eduJune 2014
  2. 2. We’re going to use the library catalog for our examples, but the ideas here will apply to other tools you may use, including other catalogs and databases.
  3. 3. You are looking for music scores or recordings and found your way to a search screen. Now what? Assess your options.
  4. 4. Keyword searches are good for music because you can include many elements like: 1. Composer /Performer name 2. Words from the piece title 3. Publisher 4. Instruments / format
  5. 5. So if I want Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 and do not have a preference for performer or record label,* I should search for that, right? *You can always include performer name, label name, or publisher name in your search.
  6. 6. Not quite. Try one of these keyword searches… Beethoven piano sonatas Beethoven piano sonatas 15 Beethoven piano sonatas 28 There’s no benefit in using one of the numbers over the other, it depends what information is included in the library catalog record for the piece whether one or the other will work. The numbers will help narrow your search (especially in a large collection) but could also bring up false hits if the number appears in the date, volume, pages, etc.
  7. 7. Where did the 28 come from? That’s the opus number and you can find it by checking Grove (Oxford Music Online) • Search for Ludwig van Beethoven • Under Works, select Piano Sonatas
  8. 8. The official subject heading for piano sonatas is actually ‘Sonatas (Piano)’ so searching for “piano sonata” will only bring up results where that phrase appears in the recording title. Why piano sonatas and not “piano sonata”?
  9. 9. In the library catalog you can search for sonata and it will also retrieve sonatas, but in some catalogs, like WorldCat, what you type is what you get. If you want to get both forms of the word there, then you need to type sonata? (or in some systems sonata*). Why sonatas and not just sonata?
  10. 10. Want to be thorough? Try Boolean operators Beethoven AND sonatas AND piano AND (15 OR 28) VuFind does not need the ANDs, but does need the OR. Other catalogs like WorldCat need the ANDs
  11. 11. Often, the title of the physical thing you need is not the same as the piece you are looking for. A word about (not) searching by title
  12. 12. Sometimes the number doesn’t help For example, if you’ve typed 14 to find sonata no. 14, it won’t bring this one up because the title lists (Nos. 1, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13-15, 25), unless that individual work is listed in the notes somewhere.
  13. 13. Where can I find more details?
  14. 14. Or the Table of Contents