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Chamber Music: Scores

Resources for the performance and study of chamber music.

Library Catalogs

Quicksearch Books+ and Orbis are two versions of the library's online catalog. Both contain the catalog records for books, scores (notated music), recordings, videorecordings, periodicals, and many of the online resources in the Music Library, and are the best place to start looking for chamber music that you can check out.

Quicksearch Books+ searches across Orbis, the catalog for most of the Yale University Library, as well as Morris, the catalog for the Law Library.


Why Use Quicksearch?

Quicksearch Books+ Advanced Search offers an easy interface for complex searches for scores and recordings in a way that is not possible in Orbis.

Search results can be easily refined and re-executed. 

You may bookmark the Advanced Search page for future use.

The examples on this guide focus on finding music: particularly scores, recordings, and videos. For additional information on other searches, see the Quicksearch Help Pages

Advanced Search Features

Search up to 5 search boxes (rows) per search

Search within 14 fields, including author, title, publisher, location within a library, call number

Choose Boolean AND, OR, and NOT connectors

Filter by formats including Audio, Books, Video, Notated Music (scores), Archives and Manuscripts

Filter by YUL libraries, such as Music Library, OHAM (Oral History of American Music, and Beinecke

Filter by any language in the catalog (to find a particular language, start typing the name)

Limit by date of publication ranges (for example, 2000-2019)

Tip: for more precise searches, limit to 2 terms or phrases (enclosed in quotation marks) per box

Searching for Scores

Begin by going to the Quicksearch Advanced search screen. The image below shows a search for Brahms's piano quartets.

Phrase searches: notice that "piano quartet" is within quotation marks - quotation marks find the phrase, rather than separate terms, and result in a more precise search. You may also search for "string quartets," but for many quartets you should use the term quartet and the names of instruments.

It is best to place only 2 terms or phrases in a box, and use additional rows for additional terms. 

Score formats can be searched as subject terms and include terms such as scores, parts, scores and parts, vocal scores, and so on. It is also possible to choose these terms after your initial search by looking in the Subject (Genre) facet.

In some cases your search terms may retrieve some but not all of the works in the library pertaining to your search, or they may retrieve many irrelevant resources.  Looking for the uniform title and refining your search brings back more complete results sets or more precise sets.
1. In the search below, for Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" quartet, the search has retrieved 4 scores.

2. Click on the title of the first entry to see the full record, and copy the Uniform title from the first record:

3. Now click Back to Results, and Modify search. Paste the Uniform title, Quartets, violins (2), viola, cello, D. 810, D minor, into the Title field, and change the field label using the pull-down arrow to Title Begins With. Then Search. Note that we now have 8 results instead of 4.

The Music Library uses subject terms developed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Some LC subject headings, such as chamber music or string quartets are intuitive based on your knowledge of chamber music. Others are not.

In general, trios through nonets, apart from a few standard combinations (string trios, piano trios, etc.) will use the numeric term and the names of instruments. Some forms and genres common to the classical era also are used as subject headings (for example, Sonatas, Suites, Rondos, and Variations), qualified when necessary by instrumentation.

A few examples follow:

  • (Search for:) trios clarinet (Search in:) Subject       [the subject heading is Trios (usually followed by instruments in alphabetical order]
  • (Search for:) variations bassoon (Search in:) Subject   [the subject heading is variations (bassoon…)]
  • (Search for:) "string quartets" (Search in:) Subject   
  • (Search for:) sonatas flute (search in) Subject    [will retrieve sonatas for solo flute as well as for flute and piano]


You may also look up something similar to what you want, and then look for the subject headings at the foot of the catalog record, and then click on that link. Or broaden your search to include recordings and check for those subject headings. 


Then use the facet terms on the left of the screen to narrow your results:


Using the Author/Creator facet, you may quickly browse the list of composers:


  1. Quicksearch will "stem" English words, and return regular singular and plural forms of words: "symphony" will also bring back "symphonies" but not "symphonic." Similarly, a search for "libretto" will also return "librettos" but not "libretti."
  2. Enclose phrases in quotes. Example "histoire du soldat." This will return more precise results than records that have histoire, du, and soldat scattered throughout the record.
  3. Use one or two terms or phrases per box; otherwise the relevancy algorithms will find results that have most of your terms. If you are searching for Beethoven's symphony 5, for example, and put all the terms in one box, your search results will find the combination of (Beethoven and Symphony) OR (Symphony and 5) OR (Beethoven and 5).
  4. Use digital as a search term in All Fields to limit to online and CD/DVD recordings or videos.
  5. AUTHORS: can include composers, librettists, translators, editors, arrangers, and so on. For sound recordings authors can also include performers, conductors, and ensembles. For videos authors can also include directors, producers, performers, and film companies.
  6. TITLES: include titles as found on the title page, Uniform Titles (scores and recordings), series titles, and earlier and later titles (particularly for periodicals and serials).
    1. Copy and paste Uniform Titles into the search box, using the Title or Title begins With fields for a more precise search. These are very powerful search phrases that bring variant titles in multiple languages under one consistent heading.
    2. Drop articles (grammar) at the beginning of the title. These include A, An, and The at the beginning of a title, and their equivalents in other languages:
      1. French: le, la, l', un, une;
      2. German: der, die, das, ein, eine,
      3. Italian: il, lo, la, le, i, gli, uno, un, una;
      4. Spanish: el, la, lo, los, las, un, una, unos, unas.
      5. Example:  L'histoire du soldat - search for "histoire du soldat;" The marriage of Figaro - search for "marriage of Figaro"
  7. SUBJECT: scores and recordings have form and genre terms, with the addition of instrumentation where variable, for subject headings: for example
    1. Choruses, Sacred (Mixed Voices, with Organ)
    2. Concertos, Trumpet (Solo with piano)
    3. Operas
    4. Organ music
    5. Piano Quintets; also Quintets (piano, bassoon, clarinet, horn, oboe)
    6. Symphonies
  8. SUBJECT (GENRE) will return particular types of works, as in the following examples. You may use these as search terms or look for these terms along the left-hand side of the search results screen and add them:
    1. For Reference Books:
      1. Bibliography (collections of books, articles, etc., on a topic or about a composer)
      2. Dictionaries
      3. Thematic Catalogs (lists of a composer's works, with musical incipits for each movement or section)
    2. For Scores:
      1. Facsimiles (photographic reproductions of manuscripts or rare printed editions)
      2. Parts
      3. Scores
      4. Scores and Parts
      5. Vocal scores
  9. LOCATION: within the Music Library, you may find it useful to limit to the following locations:
    1. "Recordings Collection"
    2. Reference
    3. "Historical Sound" 
    4. "Oral History"
    5. "Special Collections" for archives, manuscripts, and rare editions
  10. CALL NUMBER: these and other letter-number combinations and should be enclosed in quotation marks: for example, "M452 B813," "ML410 B118," "M3," or "CD14252"
  11. Sometimes you will find similar terms in the subject and subject genre field. In general, choose the one with a higher number, or click on Modify Search and add both to separate search boxes, using the OR connector. Many of the Subject (Genre) headings are relatively new headings and can be found in only a few of the records in the catalog, or in catalog records that have not been fully reviewed as yet. Ask yourself if the numbers make sense: for example, in a collection with 165,000 audio recordings, why would there be only 13,000 "sound recordings." These are essentially equivalent terms. The answer is that these catalog records are still under review, and also making use of new headings. When you find similar terms in the Subject and Subject (Genre) fields, it is usually best to choose the one in the Subject field.