Sunday, February 14, 2016

Using Subject Headings to Find Solo and Chamber Music (Classic Catalog)

One of the most important standards for describing material in a library catalog is the subject heading.  Subject headings have their own distinct format that make it possible to search the catalog with greater speed and accuracy.  These same headings are also used in the much larger Link+ and WorldCat catalogs.


The most basic subject search uses the instrument's name followed by music, for instance, Saxophone Music.  This will include music for solo saxophone (Saxophone Music), duets for two saxophones (Saxophone Music Saxophones 2) Here is a screenshot of results from the classic catalog (click on the image to see the full image):
Bear in mind this initial search includes material in all formats.  This search should be further refined by using the Limit/Sort Search option (underlined in red above) and limiting the search to musical scores. 
Scroll down the Material type box, highlight Music Score and click OK.  (You can also highlight eBook to limit to eScores).
This result includes nothing but scores, showing the title, composer, publisher, physical description (number of pages, size) and call number.  You can click on the title of any item to learn more about the item (its location and availability) and to request it.

Some other very typical searches include these for etudes and instructional material:

Saxophone Instruction and Study
Saxophone Studies and Exercises
Saxophone Studies and Exercises Jazz
Saxophone Methods

Another very common search is to look for solo music with piano accompaniment.  For example:

Saxophone and Piano Music Scores and Parts

If it is a work for an instrumental solo and large ensemble arranged for piano, here are a few more subject headings.

Concertos Saxophone Solo With Piano 

Unique to jazz instruments there is also the subject heading:

Saxophone With Jazz Ensemble Parts Solo 

*** Keep in mind that any instrument can be substituted substituted for saxophone in a similar search.


For duets employing two different instruments, often a simple conjunction of "and" will complete the subject heading.  Unfortunately such a search is hampered by a few constraints.  Wind instruments precede string instruments, which both precede percussion and plucked string instruments.  And within the wind instrument family, the instruments are listed in alphabetical order.  Within the string instrument family they are list in score order (violin, viola, cello, double bass).

For instance:

Flute And Cello Music Scores
Flute And Guitar Music Scores 
Clarinet and flute music 

Fortunately a search with an incorrect order usually brings up what librarians call a "see reference" direct the user to the create search string:

Follow the live link for Flute and Cello Music.

For larger ensembles, the subject heading begins with the size of the group (Trios, Quartets, Quintets, etc) and the instrumental family that the instruments belong to (for example, String Trios, Woodwin Quartets, Brass Quintets).  Here are some examples:

String Trios Violins 2 Cello Scores And Parts
String Trios Violin Cello Double Bass 
Woodwind Quartets Bassoon Clarinet Flute Oboe Scores And Parts 
Woodwind Quartets Clarinets 2 Flutes 2 Arranged Scores And Parts 
Brass Quintets Horn Trombone Trumpets 2 Tuba Arranged Scores And Parts
Brass Quintets Trombones 3 Trumpets 2 Scores And Parts

If instruments from more than one instrumental family join in an ensemble, then the generic ensemble size is used.

Trios Flute Viola Cello Scores And Parts 
Quartets Horn Oboe Viola Cello Scores And Parts
Quintets Bassoon Flute Oboe Violin Continuo Scores And Parts 
Sextets Horns 2 Violins 2 Viola Cello Scores And Parts 
Septets Bassoon Clarinet Horn Violin Viola Cello Double Bass Parts
Always remember you can use these same subject headings in Link+ and in WorldCat (for Inter-Library Loan).

For instance the heading Septets Bassoon Clarinet Horn Violin Viola Cello Double Bass Parts only results in two works at San Francisco Public Library, but there are several more works that could be borrowed through Inter-Library Loan.

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