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How to Use the Online Catalog

Basic instructions and tips for finding music materials in the online catalog

How Music is Described

Music titles come in two broad categories: Generic and Distinctive. There is a much smaller third category called Collective.

Generic titles generally include the name of a type of music composition or genre, hence GENERIC.


  • Piano concerto no. 5 in E-flat
  • 3 sonatas for violin and piano, op. 12
  • Eroica symphony

No matter how (or in what language) these pieces are described on the item or how they may otherwise be commonly known, they are always identified in the catalog record according to a specified, predictable pattern: genre, instrumentation, numbering, and key (as appropriate).

  • Piano concerto no. 5 in E-flat = Concertos, piano, orchestra, no. 5, op. 73, E♭ major
  • 3 sonatas for violin and piano, op. 12 = Sonatas, violin, piano, op. 12
  • Eroica symphony = Symphonies, no. 3, op. 55, E♭ major  (NB: “Eroica” is a nickname, not part of the title)

Distinctive titles
 generally do not include the name of a genre of composition, but are instead are unique to that particular work:  "Lincoln Portrait;" exceptionally, a genre title modified by an adjective is also considered distinctive: "Little Symphony." Distinctive titles usually appear in the catalog record just as they appear on the item. Sometimes an additional version of the title must be supplied by the library because the original title form as given by the composer does not appear on the item.

  • Fidelio
  • An die ferne Geliebte
  • Consecration of the House = Die Weihe des Hauses

Collective Titles
are used in the catalog record to describe when a number of items are issued together as collections, perhaps in music scores or as CD albums.

  • Piano music
  • Violin, piano music. Selections
  • Selections

Keep these titles in mind as you proceed to the next section, How the Catalog Works

And remember: any time you have a question about how to find material in the library or have any other question about how to use the library, ask one of our librarians (see Research Assistance)

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