Last updated in January 2023 by Sam Fraleigh
Copy Cataloging of Musical Scores
Definition of Terms
Medium of performance: To put it as simply as possible, the medium of performance is a list of the musical instruments, individual human voices as well as instrumental or vocal ensembles needed to express a work in performance. Medium of performance is recorded in the 382 field and also in authorized access points (AAPs) that consist of a type of composition. An example of medium of performance expressed via the 382 and the AAP for a piano concerto whose title on the disc label appears as: Piano Concerto, op. 30 in D minor would be entered as below:
382 0 1 $b piano $n 1 $a orchestra $e 1 $r 1 $t 1 $2 lcmpt
An example of a 240 or a 700 composer/title combination would be:
240 0 0 $a Concertos, $m piano, orchestra, $n BWV 1056, $r D minor OR
700 1 _ $a Bach, Johann Sebastian, $d 1685-1750. $t Concertos, $m piano, orchestra, $n BWV 1056, $r D minor.
Note that the 245 might be something like:
245 1 0 $a Piano Concerto in D minor, BWV 1056
The Library of Congress maintains a controlled vocabulary for medium of performance terms that can be downloaded or viewed on line as a PDF file.
Type of Composition : The Music Library Association maintains a controlled vocabulary of types of compositions. Type of composition refers to standard forms that composers have used over time. Some common examples of type of composition are: a symphony, a sonata, an opera, a string quartet, a fugue.
Note that in the example under medium of performance, Piano Concerto in D minor, BWV 1056, the type of composition appears in the $a of the 240 and in the $t of the 700.
Numbering schemes for ordering the chronological sequence of the compositions of composers: The most commonly used numbering schemes are:
Formats of scores: (The following score formats are used commonly in the 250, 300 and 348 fields).
Is a large format manuscript used by choirs in churches or cathedrals during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The book is large enough for the entire choir to read from one book.
A score that shows only the parts for the chorus, either omitting the instrumental parts entirely or including an arrangement for piano or some other instrument.
Orchestral or band music that has been reduced to only a few staves, giving only the principal musical parts.
Consists of the music played/sung by all the instruments or voices in a given ensemble. Usually the parts are notated one above the other on a series of parallel staffs.
A physically separate score that contains the music for one or more, but not all, performers. Often accompanies a larger complete score with all the instrumental parts. Most common in scores of chamber music and in piano reductions.
A simplified arrangement for piano of a composition or an arrangement (usually based on an orchestral score) that can be played on a piano. A piano version of a symphony is a reduction of the original and a piano /vocal arrangement of an opera is a reduction of the opera score.
A common example of a reduction would be a score for violin and piano where the piano part is a reduction of the music for the orchestra.
Music consisting of a performance part for a keyboard (usually piano or harpsicord) performer in an ensemble, with cues for the other instruments that enable the performer of that part also to conduct.
A score issued in a musical image of reduced size, not primarily intended for use in performance.
A music book made to be placed on a table and displayed in such a way that the performers can read their parts while seated or standing across or around the table. Each part is notated separately, usually in a configuration that presents, when the book is open, different parts in inverted and/or perpendicular positions.
A score showing all vocal parts, with the instrumental accompaniment either arranged for keyboard(s) or omitted entirely.
Abbreviations used for vocal music in Western art music
Abbreviations used for choral voicing: If a score includes parts for one or more choruses, you may see a string of letters like this: SATB. Each letter represents a part or section of the choral ensemble and stands for a type of vocal range, listed from highest to lowest. The website, ChoralWiki, has examples of the twenty most commonly encountered choral voicings. Wikipedia has a page that explains voice type.
S=sopranos (typically high female vocal range)
A=altos (low or medium female vocal range or, sometimes, high male vocal range). Altos are also referred to as contraltos.
Note that the French word for viola (a stringed instrument like a violin with a lower register) is “alto”.
T= tenors (medium male vocal range or, sometimes, low female vocal range)
B=Basses/Baritones (lowest male vocal range)
There are a few hundred different combinations, but the important thing to remember is that each letter represents a distinct vocal part of a choral work. These are most commonly seen in the 382 field but may also be printed on the score itself.
Best practices manuals available through the Music Library Association.
Most of the information presented here is taken from the Music Library Association’s (MLA) best practices manuals and supplements. Quoted material is taken directly from these sources. I have, however, omitted the citations. The most recent MLA best practices manual in PDF format is the 2015 edition available here. This manual is still largely current and is the most user-friendly of the options. If you opt for using the 2015 BP manual, be sure to also download (or view) the latest interim revisions and Supplements to Best Practices that can be found here, here, here, and here.
The most current best practices information is available through the original RDA Toolkit website. Once you are logged onto the original RDA Toolkit, go to the Resources tab. You can view the sections of RDA most relevant to music catalogers by clicking on “Music Library Association Best Practices (MLA BP)” in the alphabetical list of RDA resources.
At the top of the MLA’s best practices webpage you will find the 2019 Best Practices for Using LCGFT (the genre terms thesaurus) and 2020 Best Practices for Using LCMPT (controlled vocabulary for types of instruments). This webpage also includes all earlier Best Practices guides and supplements.
While not approved for use in cataloging by LC and PCC until later in 2023 at the earliest, the draft of new (“official”) RDA Best Practices can be viewed here.
Fixed fields: All of the fixed fields listed below are required (if applicable). Add if not present.
FMus (Format of music) Codes for type of score (study, conductor’s, etc.)
Part (Music parts) Codes for whether there are parts and, if so, what type.
Comp (Type of composition) Optional for copy cataloging of level 7 records, but add if *blank* level or above. Codes are taken from a fixed vocabulary available by clicking on the fixed field in Connexion. This is not the same list that is used for type of composition in the MARC variable fields.
TrAr (Transposition and arrangement) Codes for whether the music is an arrangement or transposed. Arrangements are commonly encountered when cataloging scores the library has purchased. We purchase quite a few concerto scores that have been reduced for piano with the accompanying part for soloist. This is how student soloists learn to play the solo instrument part of concertos.
DtSt & Dates (type of date and year) Coded in the same way as in other records.
Lang (see instructions for the 041 field)
Cty (Country of publication) Coded in the same way as for other formats.
020 (Required when applicable) Many scores do not have ISBNs but they should be recorded when present.
024 (Required when applicable) EAN, UPC and ISMN numbers. See OCLC Bibliographic Formats for definitions and correct first indicators.
028 (Required when applicable) publisher and plate numbers
What are plate and publisher’s numbers?
Language fields: 041 and 546.
046 (dates of work, for example: creation date or date of first performance.) Required if available for original cataloging, but copy catalogers do not need to add. – no indicator values, $k 1972 $2 edtf ($k = creation date)
048 (Not required, but preferred if done as original) medium of performance + number of instruments of same type. Use special codes for instruments available in OCLC Bib Formats
245: There are certain rules pertaining to recording a title for a score that are used for regular print.
-- Treat all the elements together (in the order in which they appear on the source of information) as the preferred title.
-- 245 10 $a Sonata in D minor for piano and violin, no.3, BWV 246
-- In this example, sonata is a form of composition; therefore, the key of the work, the medium of performance, numbering and thematic index number (in this case the thematic index is for the works of J. S. Bach) are all included in the title.
245 10 $a Symphonies of wind instruments
In this example, “symphony” is a very common type of composition from the eighteenth century to the present, but “symphonies”, the plural form of the word, is not.
245 10 $a Symphony trio : $b for violin, cello and flute
In this example, symphony and trio are, by themselves, common types of composition. Together, however, they simply constitute a distinctive title. For this reason the medium of performance is recorded in the $b for other title information.
The cataloger needs to be cautious, however. There are some titles that can be deceptive. Brahms’ Concerto in A minor for violin, cello and orchestra, op. 102 is commonly referred to as his Double Concerto, which is not a type of composition.
As will be discussed later, when the part of the title is also a voice range, then the voice range should sometimes be treated as a designation of edition, instead of as part of the title. Example:
245 10 Songs of separation / William Grant Still.
This piece is published in tenor and baritone versions. Title page says “Songs of separation Tenor voice”
Make a note on the source of parallel title proper if not from the same source as the title proper.
Generally do not make a variant title that is not sufficiently distinctive to be a useful access point.
245 $c Statement of responsibility (SoR):
Below are the guidelines supplied by the Music Library Association’s Best Practices. Copy catalogers should ensure that at least one SoR is present, preferring, when possible, English if there are multiple parallel SoRs.
If feasible, record all statements of responsibility relating to title proper appearing on the preferred source. Optionally, record statements of responsibility relating to title proper appearing elsewhere in the item.
If feasible, transcribe all parallel statements of responsibility relating to the title proper.
If a noun or noun phrase occurs with a statement of responsibility, treat the noun or noun phrase as part of the statement of responsibility.
Parallel titles are common in music cataloging. These should be added by copy catalogers. Other variant titles proper can be added at the discretion of the cataloger. See last four paragraphs of the section for the 245 field for detailed instructions about recording parallel titles.
250 (Transcribed) (Required)
In addition to statements of vocal range, the edition statement may now include statements that were not considered edition statements under previous cataloging rules. For example:
Musical presentation statements, such as “Full score” (formerly in 254) would now be transcribed in the 250 field.
Statements of responsibility relating to the format of music, such as “vocal score by John Doe” (formerly in 245 $c) would now be transcribed in the 250.
In case of doubt, consider a statement indicating “a particular voice range or format for notated music” to be a designation of edition.
Treat a statement indicating a particular voice range that is not grammatically linked to the title, other title information, etc. as a designation of edition.
When determining if a statement indicates a format for notated music, refer to the list of formats given in RDA Toolkit section 126.96.36.199 – study score, piano score, etc.
264 (replaced AACR2 field 260)
If more than one place of publication is present on the resource, and it is not possible to determine which one is the actual place of publication, include all locations.
In the case of scores, it is not uncommon to find the names of two publishers on the resource because there has been a lot of consolidation in music publishing over the past few decades. MLA recommendation: Transcribe the names of all publishers appearing on the preferred source. If feasible, transcribe the names of all publishers appearing anywhere in the item. One reason for this instruction is that music publishers often have a stock of scores that are different from those of other publishers because the score represents a particular arrangement or transcription. It may have performance directions (such as fingering for string instruments) or editorial changes. For this reason many publishers will continue to display the name of the original publisher, usually at the bottom of the first page of the score.
For instructional and practice scores, distributors are often very prominently displayed. Best practice is to transcribe the name of distributors if prominently displayed.
Be aware that copyright dates are often based on the original copyright date. In the case of scores, this copyright date may be much earlier than would be the case with print books. Also, the copyright date is most commonly found at the bottom of the first page of the score.
300 1 score (pagination) + # of parts
Use type of score e.g. study score, vocal score, piano score
If there are parts, this must be reflected in the 300 field as shown above.
306 (no indicators) (Duration) (Required if available) in format 000000 (hhmmss) This should also be written out in a 500 note, if present. Generally, duration is more likely encountered with music sound discs, but can sometimes be present on music scores..
33X fields (Required by OCLC)
336 notated music $b ntm $2 rdacontent
337 unmediated $b n $2 rdamedia
338 volume $b nc $2 rdacarrier
348 (Required) (Copy catalogers should add if the record follows RDA rules; optional if the record uses AACR2) Used to record score format. Can be repeated and is written in singular . 348 $c has recently replaced field 546 $b for noting musical notation in RDA. “Staff notation” is by far the most commonly encountered notation format for scores, although “tablature” or “guitar tablature” may also be encountered when cataloging facsimile editions of Renaissance music, or scores on learning and studying guitar music, respectively.
348 score $2 rdafnm
348 part $2 rdafnm (only if score has accompanying parts)
348 $c staff notation $2 rdafmn
Note: Terms in $a are accompanied by the code rdafnm in a $2, whereas terms in $c are accompanied by the similar but different code rdafmn in a $2.
382 (0 1) + $2 lcmpt – controlled vocabulary and structure (Required). Repeat if multiple works are present and medium of performance is different. Refer to music cataloger if missing or incomplete. Note: Sometimes omitted when score is for one instrument only. If missing, give to music cataloger for review
383 (no indicators) Used for various types of numbering: Thematic index ($c), opus ($b), serial ($a) (Required if applicable) Should be obvious.
384 (if applicable) for key (Required)
500 ("title from" statement) (Required when not taken from the title page which is a common situation with scores) Original cataloger should have entered this when record was created. Can help the cataloger to understand from where the title was recorded in the 245.
500 can be used for human readable medium of performance – Piano music; For 2 choirs (SATB, SSA), Opera in 5 acts, etc.
500 note stating duration. See 306.
505 – Copy Catalogers can add if not too time consuming, but optional.
700 1 _ For editors, arrangers, transcribers, etc. (Required, add if absent)
700 1 _ $a composer’s name. $t title of work or expression (May consist of only the type of composition, e.g., Concertos, Sonatas, Serenades), $m medium of expression, $n numbering, $r musical key of work (e.g. D minor). Must be constructed according to strict rules when the title is a type of composition. (Required)
Refer to music cataloger if missing. Note: Not required if the score is for a single piece of music (Use 240 if the title is a type of composition and there is only one work (expression) present).
655 Genre terms – The genre terms for scores and parts should be added if absent.
655 _7 $a Scores $2 lcgft – always required, add if missing.
655 _7 $a Parts (Music) $2 lcgft – always required when applicable, add if missing
EXAMPLES of genre terms for instructional or practice pieces:
655 _7 $a Teaching pieces (Music) ǂ2 lcgft.
655 _7 $a Methods (Music) ǂ2 lcgft.
655 _7 $a Studies (Music) ǂ2 lcgft.
EXAMPLES of type of composition genre terms:
655 _7 $a Concertos $2 lcgft.
655 _7 $a Sonatas $2 lcgft.
655 _7 $a Toccatas $2 lcgft.
650 Subject headings
EXAMPLES of instructional or practice pieces (bassoon is a placeholder for any instrument):
650 _0 $a Bassoon ǂx Instruction and study.
650 _0 $a Bassoon ǂx Fingering ǂv Charts, diagrams, etc.
650 _0 $a Bassoon ǂx Multiphonics.
650 _0 $a Bassoon ǂv Studies and exercises.
EXAMPLES of type of composition subject headings. These differ from genre terms for type of composition by often including medium of performance terms in parentheses.
650 _0 $a Operas.
650 _0 $a Concertos (Violin), Arranged. (“Arranged” indicates the piece is an expression of a work, not the original work as conceived by the composer).
650 _0 $a Sonatas (Cello and piano) $v Scores and parts.
650 _0 $a Oboe and piano music $v Scores.