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The Preferred Title in Music: Home

Introduction

Preferred Titles in Music

It is very important to understand the concept of "preferred titles" before searching the library catalogs for music materials.

A "preferred title" provides the means for bringing together all catalog entries of a specific work when various versions (e.g., editions, languages, arrangements) of that specific work have appeared under various titles.

Preferred titles fall roughly into three categories:

1)  Those with distinctive titles.

 2)  Those in which the title is a musical form.

 3)  Collective titles.

Preferred titles may or may not contain "qualifiers" added at the end on the preferred title in order to distinguish one kind of edition from another.

"Distinctive" Preferred Titles

DISTINCTIVE PREFERRED TITLES

Generally speaking, when a composer gives a composition a title that is not the name of a musical form, that non-form, or distinctive title, in its original language, is used as the preferred title.

Note in the example below that Bach's "Oster-Oratorium" appears under several different titles. In order to gather the same work into one place in the catalog, the preferred title "Oster-Oratorium" is applied to each catalog entry.

 

Example:

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Oster-Oratorium]  PREFERRED TITLE
Bach's Easter oratorio. TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Oster-Oratorium]  PREFERRED TITLE
Easter oratorio.  TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Oster-Oratorium]  PREFERRED TITLE
Oratorio de Paques, BWV 249.  TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Oster-Oratorium]  PREFERRED TITLE
The Shorter University Chorale performs Bach's Easter Oratorio.  TITLE ON ITEM

"Musical Form" Preferred Titles

MUSICAL FORM PREFERRED TITLES

If the title of a composer's work includes the name of a type of composition (e.g., sonata, symphony, rondo, concerto, quartet, suite, etc.) then the English language form of the name of the composition is used for the preferred title. There are some exceptions to this rule however.

Note that the example below appears under several different titles. In order to gather the same work into one place in the catalog, the preferred title "Concertos, violin, string orchestra, BWV 1042" is applied to each catalog entry.

 

Example:

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Concertos, violin, string orchestra, BWV 1042]  PREFERRED TITLE
Concerto no. 2 in E major.  TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Concertos, violin, string orchestra, BWV 1042]  PREFERRED TITLE
The E major violin and string orchestra concerto.   TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Concertos, violin, string orchestra, BWV 1042]  PREFERRED TITLE
Itzak Perlman plays Bach's E minor concerto for violin and string orchestra.   TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.
[Concertos, violin, string orchestra, BWV 1042]  PREFERRED TITLE
Violin and string orchestra concerto no. 2.   TITLE ON ITEM

"Collective" Preferred Titles

COLLECTIVE PREFERRED TITLES

For music materials which contain several like works by a composer (e.g., several sonatas, or several concertos, or all organ music) a preferred title will be devised to describe the entire group.

In the example below selections of Bach's organ music appear under several different titles. In order to gather similar entries into one place in the catalog, the preferred title "Organ music. Selections" is applied to each catalog entry.

 

Example:

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1770.
[Organ music. Selections]    PREFERRED TITLE
E. Power Biggs plays Bach's greatest hits.   TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1770.
[Organ music. Selections]    PREFERRED TITLE
Selected organ music of J.S. Bach.   TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1770.
[Organ music. Selections]    PREFERRED TITLE
Unvollendete Orgelwerke.   TITLE ON ITEM

 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1770.
[Organ music. Selections]    PREFERRED TITLE
Bach's selected organ music played on the mighty Holtkamp organ.   TITLE ON ITEM

 

Qualifiers in Preferred Titles

Any kind of preferred title (distinctive, musical form, collective) may have qualifiers added at the end of the preferred title in order to distinguish one kind of edition from another.  Five qualifiers are encountered frequently in the catalog.

  • "Selections"
  • "Arranged"
  • "Vocal score" or "Chorus score"
  • "Libretto" or "Text" or "Texts"
  • Language(s) of translation(s) from the original language

 

"Selections"

Indicates that the edition or recording contains only a portion of the work(s) described in the first part of the preferred title.  Examples:

Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827. 
Piano music. Selections

  • Used for a collection of two or more solo piano works by Beethoven, in various forms, but not including all of the piano works.

Schumann, Robert, 1810-1856.
Dichterliebe. Selections

  • Used for a collection of two or more songs from the sixteen-song cycle Dichterliebe, but not including the complete cycle.

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"Arranged"

The music has been arranged for a different medium of performance, or a different purpose than originally intended by the composer. One of the most frequent uses of "arranged" in preferred titles is with editions of works for instrumental soloist(s) and orchestra, with the orchestral accompaniment arranged for a keyboard instrument.  Examples:

Brahms, Johannes, 1833-1897.
Concertos, piano, orchestra, no. 1, op. 15, D minor; Arranged

  • Used for an edition for solo piano with the orchestral parts arranged for an accompanying piano.

Joplin, Scott, 1868-1917.  
Entertainer; Arranged

  • Used for an edition for other than piano of Joplin's ragtime piano work.

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"Vocal score"

For a work originally composed for voice(s) and instrumental ensemble (usually orchestra), the music for accompanying instruments is arranged for a keyboard instrument.  Commonly used for editions of operas, oratorios, etc., intended for study and rehearsal use by the singers.  Examples:

Bizet, Georges, 1838-1875. 
Ca
rmen. Vocal score

  • Used for an edition of the complete music of the opera, but with the orchestra music arranged for piano.

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"Chorus score"

Similar to "vocal score," but only the chorus parts (no solo voices) are printed, and the accompaniment is arranged for piano, or is omitted entirely.  Example:

Kodaly, Zoltan, 1882-1967.
Psalmus hungaricus. Chorus score

  • Used for an edition that prints only the chorus music for this work originally composed for tenor solo, chorus, and orchestra.

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"Libretto"

The edition includes only the words of a large vocal work such as an opera or oratorio (i.e., the music is not printed).  Example:

Bizet, Georges, 1838-1875.  
Carmen. Libretto

  • Used for a book that contains the words only of the opera.

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"Text" or "Texts"

The edition includes the words only of smaller vocal works, such as a song, song cycle, or song collection.  Example:

Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828.
Songs. Texts

  • Used for a book that contains the words only of all the songs of Schubert.

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"Language(s) or translation(s) from the original language"

The name of the language is added for an edition of a vocal work that includes a translation of the text to a language of other than the original one.  Examples:

Bizet, Georges, 1838-1875.  
Carmen. Vocal score. English

  • Used for an edition for voices and piano of the complete opera, with text only in English, or in the original French and an English translation provided.

Bizet, Georges, 1838-1875.
Carmen. Libretto. English

  • Used for a book containing the text of the complete opera in English translation, with or without the original French text.

John Rivest, Music Librarian

John Rivest
Contact:
John G. Rivest, Librarian
Shorter University
Livingston Library
315 Shorter Ave. #124
Rome, GA 30165

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