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Music scores and sound recordings: Finding music scores

Tips for finding music scores and sound recordings.

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Finding music scores

The Music Collection is located on the 3rd floor of the Reid Library, and contains predominantly Western Art Music scores, in a variety of formats and editions, to serve a diverse number of study and research purposes:

  • Performances and exams
    • Modern or scholarly performance editions for contemporary music practice and historically informed music performance practice.
  • Musicology
    • Scholarly editions with critical commentary, facsimile manuscripts and early editions, and historical editions.
  • Theory and compositional research
    • Full and/or miniature scores for analysis.

Editions matter.  A 19th or early 20th century edition of a Beethoven sonata is important for analysing the performance practice of the time for your history research, or for checking fingerings by the editing pianist, but is not always an appropriate edition to use for your end of year exam.

  • Do you need an 'urtext' or 'critical' edition for your exam? 
    ('Urtext' is used in German/Viennese publications, meaning the score is based on the original manuscripts or sources to most closely reflect the original intentions of the composer. These may also be referred to or labeled as 'critical edition'.)  
  • Does the song need to be in the original key or transposed?
  • Do you need an early edition of a work for your music history research?

Particularly for pre 20th century music, discuss with your instrumental teacher or lecturer about what type of edition you may be expected to use, or ask a librarian for assistance. 

Click on the tabs on this page for tips on searching and browsing for music scores in OneSearch with the above purposes in mind.    

See the Online scores page for selected online collections and composer digital archives beyond the UWA collection. 

Some search tips: 

  • Keep your searches simple and specific 
  • Include the composer's surname.
  • Use unique numbers. (Type the number only.  Eg. for Op. 111, just type 111)
    Use resources such as Grove Music Online to find work details of composers.
  • For instrumental music, include the instrument (violin, clarinet, trumpet)
  • Use the plural of the music genre (sonatas, symphonies, concertos) This terminology is recorded in the Subject tags in OneSearch
  • Avoid using the Title field for searches. Use Any field for information that may be in the title. 

To search for music scores in our collection, it is often easier to use the Advanced Search function in OneSearch.

  • Enter your search terms in the search box(es).
  • Select Scores from the options in the Resource Type menu.

For example: you are looking for the performing score (clarinet and piano reduction) of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto for your recital.

Mozart was a prolific composer, so use unique identifying features where possible, such as the work number (in this case, K. 622). 

Mozart Clarinet Concerto Advanced Search

For step-by-step screenshots to find the exact score you need, see Finding a scholarly performing edition of Mozart Clarinet Concerto (clarinet with piano reduction)

On this page:

Shelf numbers (Music Classification system) explained

Music Score collections explained

Music Score Location Guide [PDF]

Shelf numbers (Music Classification system) explained

The Music collection uses an adaptation of the British Catalogue of Music Classification for arranging music scores on the Reid library shelves.  (This is different to Dewey Decimal system used for books, DVDs and videos.)

First, scores are arranged on the shelves in alphabetical order by the composer's surname. Each composer is assigned a Cutter number. For example:

B415 = Beethoven
B813 = Brahms
M939 = Mozart

Then, the Music Classification letters are used to collocate genre and/or instrument types within the composer's works. For example:

C = Operas
Q = Piano 

All of Beethoven's operas will be shelved together at: 


and Beethoven's piano solo scores will be shelved together at:


Where a score contains more than one composer, the Music Classification is prefixed with B/. For example:

The score entitled Australian piano music (a collection of piano works by different composers) will have the Shelf Number:

B/ Q

Tutors, technical studies, etc are prefixed with A/. For example:

Modern viola technique will have the Shelf Number:


A more extensive list of classifications used can be downloaded here [PDF].  Copies of this list are available with the music scores on the 3rd floor of the Reid Library and at the Reid Library's Information Desk. Below is a selected list of Music Classification codes.


Shelf Number

Tutors subdivided by instrument A/
Collected Editions, historical sets, monuments of music B/
Scores of the same genre by several composers B/ ---
Operas and operettas    C
Musical plays CM
Choral Music, religious D
Choral Music, secular E
Miscellaneous, chance compositions F
Single Voices in combination JN
Single Voice K
Orchestral Music M
Chamber music, ensemble music for less than 10 performers N
Ballet    O
Electronic music and eletrophones, pendulum music PV
Individual Instruments and Ensembles of same instrument Q - Z

 Music Library Score collections explained

There are four types of score collections in the Music Library. They will be described in OneSearch as:

Score collection
Scores are available for loan, and are shelved using the Music Classification system described above.

Collected Ed. collection
Also described as Monumental Sets, these are collected works of composers and significant publishers' series and anthologies. They are scholarly editions, often with critical commentary, and may contain facsimiles of handwritten manuscripts. They are shelved using the Music Classification system described above.
Scores from this collection are used to compare notes with a modern performing edition or other historical editions.
These scores are for use in the Library only (not for loan).

Choral set collection
Sets of multiple copies of choral works for use by choirs. These are arranged in a numerical sequence with the prefix CS----.Only the first available copy of the set is kept onsite. The sets can be requested through OneSearch and be available within 48 hours.

Performing Set collection
Sets of music for large instrumental ensembles which are arranged in a numerical sequence with the prefix PS----
(These are kept in offsite storage and should be requested a minimum of three days before borrowing them - to prepare parts and check if they are needed by the Conservatorium of Music for their rehearsal and concert programs. Contact the Library for requests to borrow.)


Sometimes you need to use alternative languages to find scores in our collection. Scores are catalogued in the original language of the publication.  We have publications from France, Italy, Germany, England, USA, Hungary, Russia, etc.

For example: you are looking for the score of Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle... an important and popular opera by Bartok.

  • Using the terms in OneSearch: Bartok Bluebeard's castle you will see that you get no results.
  • Use an authoritative source such as the Grove Music Online database, (or The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians in the Reference Collection) and look at Bartok's Works list.  The list of Works records the opera in the (original) Hungarian title.
  • In OneSearch replace Bluebeard's castle with the easiest Hungarian word to type: herceg,  you will see we have 1 search result. Our catalogue records the title of this score in German and Hungarian, not in English. 

Bartok search


Many song titles are not searchable in OneSearch because many OneSearch records do not list the contents of individual song titles. 

This is less the case with newer scores, but for older scores, you will need to know the score's collection title, or browse through a composer's works on the library shelves.

For example: you are looking for "Salley gardens" by Benjamin Britten. 

  • Using the terms in OneSearch: Britten Salley gardens will find no results.
  • Using the Libraries Australia catalogue, the same search will list song collections including "Folksong arrangements" volume 1 by Britten.
  • Back in OneSearch, using the terms: Britten Folksong arrangements reveals volume 1 is in the Music score collection.  The record doesn't list the song titles, but we have the song in volume 1 on the library shelf.

Salley Gardens search 

  • Looking for the High voice or Medium voice version?  We have both. In this instance, click on the location details in the details area.

Contact for support

Email your questions to our friendly library staff.


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UWA Staff

More contact options are available on the Library Contact us page.


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