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A guide to the music resources available in the Killam Memorial Library.

Types of scores in the music collection

The music collection includes a variety of types of scores. There are two broad categories:

Study scores

Study scores can include a wide variety of score formats and editions, including miniature scores, scholarly editions, collected works, and even manuscripts. Study scores support musicological research, music analysis, and composition but, in some cases, can also be used in performance settings.

  • Collected works: Complete works of a composer, typically published in multiple volumes. Considered critical or scholarly. Often referred to as complete edition, Gesamtausgabe, sämtliche Werke, opera omnia, etc. 
  • Facsimile edition: Photographic reproduction of manuscript or print source
  • Historical edition: Critical edition that includes compositions by various composers that are somehow connected. Also called monuments.
  • Manuscript: An unpublished, usually handwritten music score. If the manuscript includes the composer's writing, it is called an autograph. Music manuscripts can be searched in the Archives Catalogue.
  • Miniature score: A printed full score of pocket size (usually 13·5 × 18·5 cm) for individual reading and analysis.
  • Scholarly edition: Intended as a scholarly, authoritative source based from primary sources and the composers intent. Contains commentary to explain editorial differences and explanation.
  • Study score: A printed full score reduced to a size greater than ‘miniature’ but smaller than ‘full.'
  • Urtext edition: Intended to reproduce the original intention of the composer as exactly as possible, without any added or changed material.Some Urtext editions now contain editors' reconstruction of composers' original texts.

Performance scores

Performance scores can include full scores, conductor's scores, piano-vocal scores, transcriptions and arrangements and other scores to support solo instrument, voice, and chamber music performance. Performance scores are also useful for musicological research, music analysis, and composition.

  • Choral score: Choral parts are displayed with no accompaniment or accompaniment reduced for piano or organ. Also called voice scores.
  • Close score: Commonly found in hymnals, the close score format presents all the separate parts transcribed on (usually) two staves.
  • Conductor's score: Oversize full score to be read by a conductor.
  • Full score: Contains complete details of a work for orchestra, with or without voices, as it is intended to be performed. Full scores are generally large enough large enough to be read by a conductor. 
  • Piano score: Also called piano reduction. Full orchestration reduced for keyboard with a separate staff for the soloist; also an orchestra score reduced to a piano version.
  • Score and parts: Full score or conductor's score with separate parts for individual instruments of an ensemble.
  • Tablature: Notation that shows where to play the pitches on the given instrument rather than which pitches to produce, with rhythm indicated as well. First used in the late Middle Ages, tabulature is now widely used for guitar and electric bass songs and pieces in popular music genres. 
  • Transcriptions and arrangements: Music for one medium of performance that has been rewritten for another. Or music rewritten in a different key from the original.
  • Vocal score: Operas, oratorios, or other large works originally written for solo voice/chorus and instrumental ensemble, with the instrumental accompaniment reduced for piano or organ.

For more information, see the "Score" article in Grove Music Online: