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Aleph@UF: Copy Cataloging of Musical Scores

Cataloging procedures and policies

Last updated in May 2020 by Doug Smith

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 $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:

  1. Opus numbers, for example, Symphony No. 7, op. 48
  2. Simple numerical designation such as Symphony No. 7
  3. Thematic catalogues. Thematic catalogues usually appear after the death of a composer and require years of scholarship to establish the correct sequence of a composer’s works. Each thematic catalogue has a unique code consisting of letters taken from the compiler’s or the composer’s name or the title of the catalogue. For example, J. S. Bach’s thematic catalogue numbering is followed by BWV. An example of this would be Bach’s Mass in B minor, BWV 221. All three of these numbering schemes may be present in both the authorized access point and the preferred title.

Formats of scores: (The following score formats are used commonly in the 250, 300 and 348 fields).

  • Choir book (also written as choirbook)

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.

  • Chorus score

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.

  • Condensed score

Orchestral or band music that has been reduced to only a few staves, giving only the principal musical parts.

  • Full score (orchestral or conductor's score or just, score)

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.

  • Part

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.

  • Piano score (also called reduced scores, reductions or 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.

  • Keyboard (or violin) conductor part (also called a performer-conductor score)

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.

  • Study score (also called miniature scores)

A score issued in a musical image of reduced size, not primarily intended for use in performance.

  • Table book

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.

  • Vocal score

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 2014 edition available here. This manual is organized by MARC field tag numbers. This is still, for the most part, current and is the most user-friendly of the options. If you opt for using the 2014 BP manual, be sure to also download (or view) the 2017 Supplements to Best Practices that can be found here (dated April 2017) and here (dated February 2017). The most current best practices information is available through the RDA Toolkit website. Once you are logged onto the 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 Best Practices for Using LCMPT (controlled vocabulary for types of instruments).

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 K level records, but add if I 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.

Variable Fields

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?

  • A plate number is a number that appears repeatedly on every page (or almost every page), usually at the bottom of the page.
  • A publisher’s number will appear only once or a few times on the resource, perhaps on the cover, title page, caption, or the first page of music
  • Record all publisher’s numbers, distributor’s numbers, and plate numbers appearing on the item.
  • Record the name of the publisher or distributor associated with the number in 028 $b, in the same form as that transcribed in the publisher’s/distributor’s name element. However, do not include levels of corporate hierarchy.

Language fields for audio recordings 041 and 546.

  • 041 (Add if not present) / Lang fixed field coding This field is used more frequently in the cataloging of scores than for print monographs.
    • Instrumental music: If a score contains works that are entirely instrumental:
      • Lang fixed field: use the code “zxx”.
      • 041: If there text describing any aspect of the music as well as the notated music, add 041 $g for each language used for supplemental information such as historical or performance notes.
    • Vocal music: If the recorded work, or works, consist entirely or predominantly of vocal music:
      •  Lang fixed field: code for the predominant language of the sung text. If there are multiple sung languages present, code with “mul”.
      • 041:
        • Each sung language is coded in a separate $d. Add a note in the 546 field also.
        • If the text of the vocal work is supplied in accompanying material, it should be coded in the 041. For opera librettos and the text of all other vocal music use $e for each language. Use $n for the language of the original if translations are provided in accompanying material.
        • Other information in the accompanying material (such as historical, biographical or technical) should be supplied in an 041 $g
  • 546 : other language info (Required) Includes any sung text + language of any text in score in a separate 546. For entering type of music notation, see 546 entry under 5XX fields below.

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.

  • When the name of a piece is not a type of composition, the medium of performance (if present) should be considered a subtitle and be placed in $b.
    • 245 10 $a Elegiac song : $b in G minor, for violin, viola and cello, op. 8
      • We record the preferred title in this way because “Elegiac song” is not a type of composition
      • These types of titles are called “distinctive” titles
  • If a music title consists only of the name or names of one or more types of composition, or the name or names of one or more types of composition and one or more of the following:
    • medium of performance
    • numeric designation
    • date of composition
    • musical key

-- 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.

  • If a type of composition is used in the title of a work that is definitely not of that type, treat the title as distinctive. Example:

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.

  • Titles combining words, each of which alone would have been the name of a type of composition, will in general be treated as a distinctive title. Example:

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.

250 Tenor.

This piece is published in tenor and baritone versions. Title page says “Songs of separation   Tenor voice”

  • Parallel titles proper can be taken from any source within the resource.

Make a note on the source of parallel title proper if not from the same source as the title proper.

  • If feasible, record all parallel titles proper appearing on the preferred source. Optionally, record parallel titles appearing elsewhere in the item.
  • If a title in another language appears on the resource, make a variant title for it (246).

Generally do not make a variant title that is not sufficiently distinctive to be a useful access point.

245 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.

246 (Required)

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 – study score, piano score, etc.

  • Vocal scores and chorus scores have a dual nature: they are both types of arrangement and formats of notated music 
  • With those two exceptions, “do not treat other statements of arrangement, transposition, etc. as designations of edition; instead transcribe those statements as statements of responsibility. When in doubt, treat statements of arrangement, transposition, etc. as a statement of responsibility.


  1. The 264 field – publication information: place, publisher (or distributor or manufacturer), year
    1. The indicators: The 264 is coded using both indicators:
      1. The 1st indicator is rarely seen in records but is used when there is a change of publisher, usually with a monographic volume set in which volumes have been published by different companies over time. See the OCLC bib formats entry for the 264 for the meaning of the coding in the 1st indicator.
      2. The 2nd indicator is required. The indicator codes are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 their meaning is: 0 = manufacture (used mostly for manuscripts and other unpublished resources created by the author – do not use), 1 = publication (by far the most widely used code), 2 = distribution (not required if there is another 264 with publisher information, but seen sometimes), 3 = manufacture (rarely used, especially for print resources), 4 = copyright date: used exclusively when recording a copyright date in a separate 264 field in addition to the date given in the primary 264 field.
    2. Multiple 264 fields are allowed and required when recording publication and copyright dates, for example.
    3. The 264 field consists of three parts. The $a contains the place of publication, distribution or manufacture; the $b contains the name of the publisher, distributor, etc. and the $c contains the date of publication.
      1. The $a: The place of publication, etc. should ideally be taken from somewhere on the resource itself but other sources can be used. When a source other than the resource itself is used, the name should be enclosed in brackets. If it is not possible to determine a place of publication, use: [Place of publication not identified]. Catalogers should avoid this whenever possible by inferring a place of publication and putting the location in square brackets. Besides the square brackets it is also acceptable to place a question mark after the location when there are serious doubts about the place of publication.

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.

  1. The $b: the name of the publisher, distributor, etc. should be taken from the resource if possible. However, catalogers can use another outside source for the publisher name. In this case, square brackets should be used. When the publisher simply cannot be identified, the phrase [publisher not identified] is used.

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.

  1. The $c: the date of publication. RDA rules dictate that this date should be presented within square brackets unless the publication date is explicitly presented on the item, which is not common for scores. When the publication date is inferred from a copyright date, it should both be listed within square brackets in the first 264 field and accompanied by a second 264 field with 2nd indicator 4 and just the copyright date listed in a $c. Example: 264 _ 4 $c ©2002

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) in format 000000 (hhmmss) This should also be written out in a 500 note.

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  score $2 rdafnm

348  part $2 rdafnm

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) Should be obvious.

384 (if applicable) for key (Required)

546 $b Staff notation (ONLY IF score is in staff notation) (Required)

The three most commonly seen types of musical notation are shown below. Be aware that there are many other forms as well as modifications of the three below.

  • Staff notation on musical staves (Also called staff notation is the typical notation seen in vast majority of classical music). See example below:


  • Tablature (or tabulature, or tab for short) is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.

Tablature is common for fretted stringed instruments such as the lute, vihuela, or guitar, as well as many free reed aerophones such as the harmonica. Tablature was common during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and is commonly used today in notating many forms of music. – Wikipedia. We do occasionally receive facsimile editions of Renaissance music in tablature format.


  • Guitar tablature is used for acoustic and electric guitar. A modified guitar tubulature with four strings is used for electric bass. Guitar and bass tab is used in pop, rock, folk, and country music leadsheets (Wikipedia) This is seen occasionally in scores we receive for learning and studying music for the guitar. See below for an example.


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.

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