Find musical items

Finding a score  |  Finding a CD  |  Learning shelf location

Finding a Score

Materials in the Music Library are classified according to the Library of Congress classification system. As a result, they are processed and shelved differently than items in the Class of 1945 Library, which uses the Dewey Decimal System. On the spine or front cover of each book in the Music Library is a call number that begins with the letter M (the Library of Congress' symbol for music) followed by a series of numbers. These numbers start at 1 and go all the way up to 5000, so it is important to understand how they are assigned to scores and other music materials.

Sheet music for a solo instrument (for example, a violinist or pianist playing without accompaniment) is assigned a number between 1 and 175; an example of this is M22, which is the number for solo piano music.

Numbers 180-299 are assigned to duets (music for two players).

After the number 299, things get a bit easier, because the number following the M will always indicate the number of players for which a piece of music was written. M312, for example, represents a trio (3 players) including a pianist, violinist and cellist. Every possible combination of instruments is assigned a number, but when looking for a score in the library, the most important single number to remember is the one that immediately follows the M.

Here are a few more examples of how Library of Congress call numbers work:

M452 Music for string quartet (Four string players: 2 violins, viola and cello)
M557 Music for wind quintet (Five woodwind players)
M762 Music for wind/string septet (Seven players of both wind and string instruments)

The call numbers above are used for instrumental music (no singers) only. To find vocal music, you have to jump all the way up to M1500, which is the call number for operas and opera songs.

Singers can also find music for solo voice with piano accompaniment in the classification numbers M1600 to M1700.

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Finding a CD

Sound recordings are shelved not in the Music Library, but in the Class of 1945 Library on Floor 1M.

The easiest way to find a sound recording by a composer or musical group is to search BIBLION by author, using the composer's last name, followed by first name (or, in the case of a musical group, using the name by which the group is most commonly known). Here are some examples:




While a search for items using the words "Rolling Stones" will likely result in a list of CDs available by the Rolling Stones, searching for "Brahms, Johannes" is trickier because many of the search results on the screen won't look or sound familiar. When searching by composer, the best way to determine which of your search results are CDs is to limit your search results after these results appear on the screen. This may be done by clicking "Limit This Search" at the top of the screen after you've completed your initial search, and then selecting "Material Type > Compact Disc," as shown in the image below. Limiting your search in this way allows you to view only those items which meet specific criteria--in this case, they need to be CDs!


Limiting your search results to material type: compact disc will produce a list of CDs with music by Johannes Brahms. This list may still be long, but not nearly as long as the one you retrieved when you first did your search.

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Learning Shelf Location

Although the Music Library houses most of Phillips Exeter Academy's collection of music materials, many musical scores and books are shelved in the Academy Library as well. However, while items in the Music Library have call numbers that begin with the letter M and are followed by a series of numbers, all items relating to music (both sheet music and books about music) in the Academy Library have call numbers between 700 and 800. These items may all be found on Floor 3 of the Academy Library.



A good rule of thumb: if you want to find items that are only in the Music Library, look for the words "Forrestal Bowld" in the 'Location' box.


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