Cover of the piano/vocal score to The Charlatan, c1898. Music by John Philip Sousa, Book by Charles Klein (from archive.org, score digitized by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign).
The library subscribes to several streaming audio services. These databases not only contain audio files but also many linear notes. Search here for recordings and information about your musical. Some services also include video.
Using the Library Catalog
Since you will need to examine scores, recordings and librettos, the library catalog is the first place to go to see if the library owns these.
If you don't know what you want, you may browse the shelves, keeping in mind items may be checked out.
In Advanced Search you can search subject, titles and authors, then limit to books, scores or audiovisual (sound recordings and videos.)
- [q.] M1503 tells you this is a piano vocal score, probably including all the dance numbers and incidental music
- [q.] M1508 tells you this is a vocal selections volume. Only a few musical numbers will be included, most likely songs and few if any dance numbers or incidental music
- [q.] M1507 tells you this is an anthology which contains selections from musicals or operas
Several American universities have scanned piano/vocal scores of many musicals and operettas that are in the public domain. These are in archive.org and The Internet Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) and can be viewed, printed and downloaded, copyright free.
In order to avoid bitter disappointment, do not set your heart on getting a full instrumental/orchestral score of any musical. They are not available for public consumption. Only members of those performing organizations that actually perform these works ever get to handle a full instrumental/orchestral score. The one excepotion is Kiss me Kate. The library owns a full orchestral score.
- M1508.8 indicates the recording of at least the primary musical numbers. In a lot of cases it will also include all dance numbers. Rarely, if ever, will it include the dialogue
- M1507 is an anthology containing selections from various musicals
- M1500 this number indicates that the entire show is included on the recording. One example is Rent
- M1527 is a motion picture sound track recording, as opposed to a Broadway cast recording
You may also do an Advanced Search and limit to "Audiovisual" or browse these call numbers in the CD drawers.
Most musical librettos are up on the 3rd floor. To search for them in the library catalog do a search with the title of the musical and the word "librettos" (plural.)
The series Best plays of... contains the books for many musicals, but they may not be complete. The best way to search for these is to do a search for "burns mantle" and a few words from the title. For example, the library does not own the libretto for Cats, but the book for the musical is contained in The Best plays of 1982-1983
Index to plays in periodicals. Dean H. Keller.
Ref. Z5781 .K43 1979 (there is also a 1971 supplement in the circulating collection)
Some theater periodicals (e.g., Theatre Arts) contain full texts of plays and musical librettos. This handy index helps you find them. For example, the library does not own the libretto to "Once Upon a Mattress," but it can be found in the July, 1960 issue of Theatre Arts which we do own. This reference work was published in 1979, so no librettos more recent than that will be included.
There is an even older index from 1970, Plays in periodicals; an index to English language scripts in twentieth century journals in the reference collection, Z5781 .P3. There may be some overlap with Index to plays in periodicals.
If the library does not own the score, recording or libretto for the show you want, please see Antoinette about buying these for the collection.
Search multiple electronic databases and the library catalog at the same time using OneSearch. You will get items in the library plus electronic sources the library has access to such as journal articles, newspaper articles, reviews,etc. To expand your search to items for interlibrary loan, choose "" from the left side bar.
Definitions of Terms and Abbreviations
q. = Oversized books: interfiled in reference and scores; at end of classes in other collections
Ref. = Reference collection, first floor
RRef.= Ready reference, shelves behind the reference desk
Periodicals = Level A
GovDoc = U.S. Government Documents, second floor
Reference Indexes = Alphabetically arranged at the end of the reference collection
Microform Area = Reading room east of the reference desk, near microform drawers