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Tutorial: How do I search for scores using uniform titles? Part II: Distinctive Titles

Time:  2:57


Searching for music materials is often challenging due to the variety of languages involved.  Should you search for works in the original composer’s language or by the titles in English?

Lucky for you, librarians have created “uniform” titles.  Uniform titles are assigned to each musical work and if you know how to search for a work by a uniform title, you can find every score for that work no matter how many languages it is published in.

There are two types of uniform titles-- form titles, used for works with a set instrumentation, and distinctive titles, used to find works with specific titles such as operas or orchestral works.  Today we’ll look at one type of uniform title, the distinctive title.

Distinctive uniform titles have titles specific to their work and do not follow a set form.  The Rite of Spring, Pictures at an Exhibition, and Prelude of the Afternoon of a Faun are examples of works that have distinctive titles.  Most distinctive titles are created in the native language of the composer.  Let’s take a look at how to find the distinctive title for Prelude of the Afternoon of a Faun.

I’ll start with an author search in the library catalog for “Debussy, C.”  Next, I’ll look for the Claude Debussy with the highest number of entries found.

Once I’ve selected the appropriate Debussy, I’ll see a list of results.  Notice the results that are “see references” with a link.  These see references are linking to the distinctive uniform title of a work!

The good news is that you don’t have to scroll through pages and pages of results looking for the right see reference.  Simply scroll to the very bottom of the page and use the search box next to “locate in results” to type the English title of the work.  In my case I’ll type “prelude of the afternoon of a faun” and click the locate in results button.

A number of promising results appear but I still want to find the appropriate “see reference” to make sure I’m not missing anything.  Once I locate it, I’ll click on it.

From here I’ll use the limit button to limit my material type to printed music scores.  I’ll change the System sort drop box to sort by title.  This will prevent the same item from showing up multiple times in my list.

Now I have a full list of scores for “Prelude to the afternoon of a faun”!

For more information on searching for scores using uniform title searching, please see our tutorial on How do I…find scores for symphonies, concertos, quartets and trios?  If you still have questions, click on the “Ask Us!” link located on each library webpage to email, chat with, or text a librarian.