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Hope Library Guides

.Music (General): Scores

This is the main portal to databases and other library sources for music research at Van Wylen Library, Hope College.

Digital Score Resources

Here are some top sites for locating Public Domain and Open Access digital scores:

The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library) is an online collection of over 433,000 scores that are in the public domain.  This means that it is strongest in compositions written before 1923, so most 20th/21st century will not be included unless the composer has given permission.  You may also want to consult a more updated critical edition held in print by the library. (Note: They do encourage subscribing for a small fee to get instant access, but you can still access all the content for free by just waiting a few extra seconds for the download)

HathiTrust is a collaborative digital library created by a partnership of university and college libraries around the country.  You can find full-text access to any of their scores that are in the Public Domain. Since the catalog includes more than just scores, use the advanced search to limit the Original Format the "musical score" and select the "full view only" button to just see full-text. HathiTrust scores will also appear in Primo searches when you are within the Books + Media + Articles scope. Warning! For score+parts edition, the scanners didn't always catch the separate parts and these might not be scanned. Also, Hathitrust doesn't allow the complete score to be downloaded, just single pages. However, if you find a score through HathiTrust, there's s good chance it is in Google Books too.

MusOpen - A growing collection of public domain and open access scores and recordings. Nicely browsable by period, instrument, and form. Created by a non-profit organization, one of its goals is to make more 20th and 21st-century music available freely.

Searching for Scores in Primo

Print scores at Van Wylen are housed on the 2nd floor and can be located by searching Primo.  If you are searching for multiple scores, we recommend using the Advanced Search and limiting the Material Type to "Scores."

Tips: Scores can be somewhat tricky to find because of the variation in the titles of works.  Here are a few tips to help locate them.

Keep it Simple: Start your search in Primo Advanced search with the composer name and a couple of words from the title of the work (try a couple different variations, if necessary). Don't use "quotations marks" to search your title as a phrase, as the score will rarely be titled exactly the way you have described it.

Primo score search for Mozart piano concerto 467

Think Both Narrow and Broad: Some pieces will be included in broader collections.  For example, a specific string quartet might be in a volume of "complete string quartets" by your composer, even if it isn't listed specifically. 

Parlez vous Francais? Your score may be published in a non-English language. When trying to make sense of a foreign language record, look in the Uniform Title or Subject areas for possible English descriptions.

example of foreign language score in Primo

Look for E-Scores: Search in the broader Books + Media + Articles scope.  This will allow you to see both our print scores, and electronic scores available through the Open Access digital library HathiTrust. HathiTrust provides access to scores published before 1923. Note, these will mostly be 19th and early 20th century editions, so consider if this works for you or if you need a more recent scholarly edition.

Have them paged! Searching for scores while at the Jack but don't have a lot of time to come get them? Sign in and use the Request This! button to have circulation staff get the score for you from the stacks.  That way you can just stop by the Circulation Desk the next time you are on our side of campus.