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Music: Reproductions of Manuscripts and Rare Editions

A research guide for finding music in various formats in the Yale University Library, and for beginning research on music.

Facsimiles and Other Reproductions of Manuscripts and Early Editions

Orbis & Quicksearch tips:

  • Use facsimile as a keyword, or facsimiles as a subject word.  In Orbis “facsimile?” will find both; Quicksearch will locate both singular and plural forms using either form
  • Quicksearch: subject facet will suggest composers, forms, genres, and performing forces or instruments for which we have facsimiles – a very long list.  Try searching for something similar and see which subject headings are applied to it (e.g., Symphonies, Songs)
  • Facsimiles may be in paper, online, or microform
  • Subject (Region),  Subject (Era), and Subject (Genre) may help you narrow down, but may not be consistently applied to all records, so use with caution
  • If your result set is very large, the Subject (Genre) Facsimiles will help you locate full-length facsimiles, rather than the odd page facsimile at the beginning of an edition.
  • Subject word Manuscripts will narrow to Manuscript facsimiles
  • Call number browse (LC class): ML93-ML96.5 Manuscript studies and manuscripts
    • ML93 – individual manuscript studies, or catalogs of manuscript collections
    • ML94 & ML94.5 – autograph albums, anthologies of composer autographs
    • ML95 Y17 – Yale dissertations
    • ML95.5 – autograph facsimiles of textual works
    • ML96.4-ML96.5 – facsimiles of musical manuscripts
  • Facsimiles of early printed works are classified in M class, along with other works for similar performing forces and forms or genres

Related Guides with Links to Online Facsimiles

Microfilm of Rare Editions and Manuscripts

Individual microfilm of many rare scores and manuscripts are cataloged in Quicksearch Books+ and Orbis, or in the card catalogs in the basement of the Music Library 

Search Tips:

  • Manuscripts of works by a single individual are cataloged under the name of the composer or author.
  • Manuscripts by many composers or authors are typically cataloged under the name of the library followed by Manuscript and the call number (aka shelfmark) of the manuscript
    • In Orbis and Quicksearch Books+, current cataloging practice is to give the name of the library as the first part of the author heading, qualified by the name of the city and country when necessary (for example, British Library, Bibliotheque nationale de France)
    • Older headings may also be found (for example Bibliotheque nationale (France) or Dijon (France). Bibliotheque municipale)
    • Sample record: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Manuscript. Barb. lat. 4153 
    • In the card catalog, cards are filed under the name of the city, then the name of the library (for example, London, British Museum; Paris, Bibliotheque nationale; Rome, Vatican Library)
  • Early printed works (16th-17th centuries) are arranged by publisher and date (for example, Gardano, 1685) 

Microfilm Collections of Music Scores

The following microfilm sets contain many different music manuscripts. 

  • Each set has an accompanying guide
  • Request microfilm from the Circulation Office during full-time staff hours
  • Microfilm music be used in the building only
  • Microfilm can be viewed and scanned in the Microtext Reading Room, SML, Basement
  • Microfilm will be held for you at the Circulation Desk for as long as you need