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Finding Scores

In the field of music, there are generally three types of sources: 1) the music itself, 2) recordings of the music, and 3) works about the music.  This guide is designed to help you locate the music itself, the scores.  As always, you can contact a Reference Librarian for further assistance at any point in your search (Ask-a-Librarian).

IMPORTANT!! Copyright Information about the Use of Scores

Copyright is a legal protection that protects the rights of authors of creative works, and includes the rights of composers.  It is important, as fledging professional musicians yourselves, to take copyright seriously.  Did you know that as soon as you write a composition, and have it notated in any format, that your work is automatically under copyright? 

There are general provisions in copyright law, called Fair Use provisions, that allow the use of copyrighted scores in educational pursuits. However, Fair Use does not allow for use of copyrighted works in any public performance, whether or not there is a charge to attend the performance, without the permission of the copyright holder.  That said, scores you borrow from a library, or through Interlibrary Loan, do not come with automatic permission for use in a public performance. For more information, check out the following sites:

Copyright Basics (United States Copyright Office)

Copyright Resource Center (Music Publishers' Association of the United States)

Copyright and Fair Use (Stanford University Libraries)


Finding Scores at Fogler Library

Fogler Library owns a number of scores, shelved in our book stacks on level 2.  These scores are arranged in Library of Congress format, which puts like instrumental and vocal works together.  Another useful way to find scores is to look them up in URSUS, the catalog of Fogler and the other UMaine System libraries. Because titles of pieces may vary, it is best to use the Advanced Search option when searching URSUS.  You can search the composer, or performer, as Author, use key words in the Any Field option, use Subject words (such as trumpet or voice), and/or use opus numbers in the Title field. The most important thing to do is to set the Material Type to Scores.

Advanced Search screen 


In searching URSUS, you will find scores here at Fogler, designated by ORO, as well as scores at other System libraries, like USM.  The example below shows a score at USM's Gorham campus.


Score at another library


Items at other libraries can be Requested to be sent to Fogler.  Once you have found a title in URSUS, click on the Request button, choose U of Maine - Orono as a pickup location, and then enter your name and the barcode on the back of your MaineCard.  You will be notified by email when the score arrives.

Request form


Using Interlibrary Loan for Scores Not Found through URSUS

If you are looking for a score that you cannot find through URSUS, check with us here at Fogler.  Sometimes scores can be part of "Complete Works" sets that we do have, but the particular piece may not show up in URSUS. If we determine that the piece is definitely not available, you can order the score through our Interlibrary Loan service. The time it takes to get a score through Interlibrary Loan can vary, but generally allow two weeks.


Finding Scores on the Visible Web

You can occasionally find scores by using Google to search the visible Web.  A good place to look for many scores is the International Music Score Library Project, (IMSLP), where you can search by composer name, nationality, or time period. IMSLP contains works that are in the public domain (are old enough to no longer be under copyright), as well as scores that are copyrighted.  For each work, the database provides copyright status information, and, if not under public domain, what permissions the author is allowing you, the user, to have (or not have).  For a good description of these permissions go to the IMSLP: Creative Commons and Performance Restricted Licenses page.


If you have any questions about searching  for scores, please contact the Reference Department (Ask-a-Librarian) or Nancy Lewis, and we will be happy to assist you.

Created by: | Revised: 01/13/2014
5729 Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5729
Phone: 207-581-1661 | Fax: 207-581-1653
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The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469