Using the Music Library
A Brief Glossary of Music-Related Library Terms
Abstract: A summary of an article in a journal or magazine or a chapter in a book. Abstracts are found in indexes, such as RILM Abstracts, to help determine if the article or book chapter contains needed information.
Base Call Number: The part of a Library of Congress call number which indicates the subject of materials shelved in that location. It is made up of one or more letters followed by a number. (For example, the base call number for symphonies is M1001.) For a list of the base call numbers used for music scores, see our Guide to the Library of Congress Music Scores (M/MT) Classification.
Bibliographic Record: A record containing information about a published or unpublished work of some kind, including the exact title, the person(s) or body responsible for creation and/or publication, date of creation or publication, edition, and other information appropriate to the work. The Library Catalog is made up of bibliographic records. An immense (40,000,000+ records) database of bibliographic records is available online via WORLDCAT.
Collected Set: A published set containing all (or a selected subset) of a composer's works, usually edited by scholars and often representing a solid body of research in its own right. Collected editions can be found in the library with the call number beginning with M3 (for complete works) and M3.1 (for selected works).
Facsimile: A photographic reproduction of an original manuscript or publication, usually for research purposes. Most facsimiles have a base call number of ML96.5. For a list of music facsimiles in the library, see UNLV Music Library Special Collections.
Historical Edition: Works of the past published in collections prepared from studies of the original sources or manuscripts. Historical editions are usually published to preserve a musical heritage (Musica Britannica, for example, focuses on English music), disseminate repertory, and make authentic editions available for study and performance. They can be the complete works of a composer, "monuments" of a specific type of music, or a series of performing editions. Historical editions can be found in the library with the call number beginning with either M2 or M3.
IIMP: International Index to Music Periodicals. IIMP is an index to help find articles in journals and magazines.
Incipit: The first few notes or measures with which a piece of music begins. Incipits are often given in thematic catalogs in order to positively identify a piece of music. In the case of works with multiple movements (such as symphonies and sonatas), the incipit of each movement is usually given.
Index: A tool to help find journal or magazine articles, dissertations, or book chapters on a particular subject.
Journal: Scholarly publication appearing at regular intervals and usually having volume and issue numbers, or some other type of continuing numbering. They primarily contain such material as essays and other types of articles, reports, and critiques.
Opus numbers: Opus is a Latin word meaning "work." It is sometimes abbreviated Op. Opus numbers are assigned to a composer's works, and used to designate a work in its chronological relationship to a composer's other works. In other words, Op. 1 is the first work by a particular composer, while Op. 53 is the fifty-third work he composed in a lifetime. On occasion, the abbreviation WoO is used to indicate "Without Opus." These are works that a composer may not have wanted published or made public. See also Work Number.
RILM Abstracts: This database helps find dissertations about music, chapters in books about music, and articles in music journals. Each entry contains a short abstract to help decide if you want to get the dissertation, book, or article.
Thematic Catalog: A list of compositions in a collection or of an individual composer, usually arranged by opus or a specific numbering scheme (i.e., BWV numbers for Bach, K. (Köchel) numbers for Mozart, etc.). Sometimes, incipits are included as a means to positively identify a work. Thematic calalogs can be found in Music Reference starting with the call number ML134.
Uniform title: A standardized title assigned to a specific work according to a detailed set of rules, in order to simplify locating the work in a library catalog. For more information, see Principles of Music Uniform Titles.
Work Number: Similar to opus numbers, work numbers are numbers assigned to a composer's works to place them in chronological order. Unlike opus numbers, work numbers are usually assigned by a scholar engaged in the cataloging of a composer's works rather than by the composer themself, and often vary considerably in format depending upon the system used by the scholar (for example, work numbers assigned to the works of Telemann are in the format TWV 41:a15, those for Haydn in the format H. VIId, 15, etc.). For examples and explanations of the work numbers for most major composers, see Work Numbers for Selected Composers.
WORLDCAT: An immense database of bibliographic records collectively created by library catalogers for the past three decades via the nonprofit agency OCLC. WORLDCAT is available online to UNLV students, faculty, and staff.