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Music at the BPL: Scores

A guide to the Music Department at the Boston Public Library's Central Library in Copley Square, including resources and suggestions for searching our collections.

Score Formats

Full score: complete composition with each part displayed on separate staff

Miniature score (study score, pocket score): size reduction of a full score for study purposes

Condensed score (particella): principal instrumental parts printed usually two to four staves to provide basic melodies and harmony, with instrumentation shown by exact indications within staves

Score and parts: contains score and all parts issued together

Piano reduction (piano score): full orchestration reduced for keyboard with a separate staff for the soloist; also an orchestra score reduced to a piano version

Vocal score (piano vocal score, organ vocal score): separate lines for vocal soloist and chorus with reduced instrumental accompaniment

Chorus score: choral parts displayed with no accompaniment or accompaniment reduced for keyboard

Close score: used for vocal music, puts all vocal parts on two staves

Online Scores

Locating Manuscripts

Scores at the BPL

Scores in our Research Collection can be borrowed for in-house use from the Arts Department on the 3rd floor of the McKim building.  We also have scores available to take home from our open shelves also in the Arts Department and from each of the branches.  Check our catalog for availability.

Classical Scores Library can be accessed anywhere with a valid BPL library card!

Selected Bibliography