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Copyright and You
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Glossary of Terms
- Catalog Number
- A publisher's catalog number; useful, if you know it, when
ordering music. Not to be confused with Opus number, which
is more of a scholarly reference (Opus numbers are also useful
when ordering, though).
- Choral Score
- For large choral works, some operas, very rarely for Broadway
shows. Has all the choral parts but no solos, no accompaniment.
- Choral Part
- A sheet or booklet showing the music for one single voice
of a chorus. It has no other parts, no accompaniment, and no
cues. If at all possible, avoid buying this! (Unless you spent
your formative years in choir school). Fortunately, choral parts
are no longer common.
- Chord Chart
- 1. Fingering chart for chord-playing instruments, such as
guitar; 2. A song-sheet (see Lead Sheet ) showing the chords
to a popular song; may show melody line, rarely bass line. Not
usually found in classical music.
- See our page,"Copyright
and You" for a discussion of issues affecting sheet-music
- The person whose name is all over the music, but who didn't
write it. Basically, you, the musician, are concerned with two
types of editor: the famous performer (performer's edition)
and the scholar (urtext). Both do good and valuable work,
but their functions are just about opposite: the scholar wants
you to see exactly and only what the composer had in mind, the
famous performer shows you how he or she makes this piece really
- Believe it or not, nine times out of ten, this obscure term
actually means "Publisher's Name". The other one time,
it refers to something you'll never see, like "Niemander
von Nichtigdorff edition of 1697".
- Fake Book
- A jazz/pop term for a collection of Lead Sheets . "Classical"
fake-books appear from time to time; these are collections of
well-known classical themes expressed as melody line and chord
chart, for use by general-business (read "jazz/pop")
musicians at weddings and other functions. Actually not a bad
thing- quite useful, in fact - but not really the same thing
as classical sheet music.
- Full Score
- Full-sized conductor's score, usable for performance. Shows
all parts. (Foreign terms: Partitur, Partitura, Partition).
- Wind-Set. See also Set. European orchestral publications
usually package strings separately from wind-set.
- Klavierauszug: see Piano Reduction, Vocal Score.
- Lead Sheet
- A jazz/pop term for a single song-sheet with lyrics, piano
accompaniment, and chord symbols. Sort of a modern figured-bass
part. The term comes from the melodic part shown, or the "lead".
- Opus (BWV, KV, Deutsch, HWV, etc.)
- Numerical cataloging systems for organizing a composer's
output, usually in terms of chronological creation. These numbers
are very helpful in determining exactly which work is called
for. For example, Beethoven wrote sixteen (or seventeen, if you
count the Grosse Fuge) string quartets. Haydn (opus numbers and
Hoboken numbers) wrote over 100 symphonies, all of which are
- Tip : Mozart is cataloged with Koechel numbers,
J. S. Bach with BWV numbers, Schubert with Deutsch numbers; Vivaldi
is cataloged with no fewer than six systems! The point is, supplying
the appropriate identifier goes a long way toward getting you
the right music. See also WoO .
- A sheet or booklet for a shorter choral work. Contains all
vocal parts, usually piano accompaniment (even if the accompaniment
is for rehearsal purposes only). The term Octavo (8vo) refers
to a standard paper sheet-size folded in eight, to produce a
small book. But you already knew that.
- Partition, Partitur(a): Score.
- The individual parts for the players in an ensemble, as opposed
to score, which a conductor uses to direct. See also Set, Choral
Score, Performance Score, and Scoring. Normally, small chamber
works are only available as parts, with no score.
- Performance or Practical Edition
- Generally, music you can afford to buy and use; this term
is used in contrast to Scholarly or Library Edition,
which are usually hard-bound, full of critical commentary
and scholarly exegeses, and very, very expensive.
- Performance Score
- A score, containing all the parts, from which you are meant
to play. Most common in 20th century chamber music. If a piece
is sold as a performance score, there are no separate parts available,
and you will need as many scores as you have players.
- Performer's Edition
- Edited by a famous performer, to share her/his interpretations.
Hint : you can be famous, too...
- Piano Reduction
- Any combination of featured voices or instruments with the
original orchestral accompaniment squashed into one itty, bitty
piano. (Foreign: Klavierauszug, Riduzzione, Reduction pour piano
- Plate Number (caution!)
- A number which looks deceptively like a catalog number ,
usually found at the bottom of the first page of music of any
publication, or at the beginning of each signature. The plate
number is for the printer's internal use, and cannot in any way
help us locate music. If you're looking for a catalog number,
you'll find it on the cover of the music, on the fly-leaf, on
the title page, or in the publisher's catalog.
- Also called "Instrumentation" or "Voicing".
A list of the instruments and/or voices required to perform a
piece. Standard "catalog notation" would be:
- Orchestra : Woodwinds - Flutes, Oboes, Clarinets,
Bassoons, (Saxes);Brass - Horns, Trumpets, Trombones,
Tuba(s); (Harp, other unusual items); Soloists or Chorus; Strings:
Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, Bass.
Example: 2-2-2-2, 4-3-2-1, hp, timp, strings.
Chorus : Soli - Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone ; chorus
- soprano, alto, tenor, baritone
Example: SATB/satb, pf or organ.
Sometimes scoring is also a way of determining which player
or section of the orchestra finished first.
- This is a standardized package of instrumental parts. Orchestral
sets vary from Wind-Set (one of each wind ,brass,
percussion) to Complete Set (same, but includes a standard
minimum number of strings). There are also some standard sets
such as Set B (wind-set plus strings 5-5-3-3-3) and Set
C (wind-set plus strings 8-8-5-5-5). Usually, string parts
beyond the minimum are sold separately, in quantities specified
by the customer.
- Sheet Music
- Generally, printed music. In popular music, refers to piano-vocal
sheets of individual songs. We use "sheet music" to
mean everything from a conductor's full score to a choral
part (see below).
- Parts. Stimmensatz = set of parts. Used for both vocal and
instrumental music. Bestimmt.
- Study Score
- Medium to small-sized conductor's score. Shows all parts,
but usually too small to use for rehearsal or performance. (Sometimes,
too small to see). Also,Mini-Score.(Foreign: Studienpartitur,
Taschenpartitur, Partition de poche).
- "Original" text, or as close to the composer's
original as possible. Should have only the performance markings
and notational errors written by the composer.
- Vocal Score
- For large choral works, operas, Broadway shows, etc. Has
all the solo vocal parts, all the chorus parts, piano or organ
accompaniment. Also known as "Piano-Vocal Score", "Piano
Score (?!)" and "Piano Reduction".
- Vocal Selections
- (Broadway shows only -- can you imagine vocal selections
from Bach's St. Matthew Passion? I ask you.) A booklet of the
top 8 to 12 songs from a hit show, in vocal score format.Warning
: may not contain the song you want.
- Werke ohne Opus --works without opus numbers
(which are then often numbered anyway). A crafty dodge on the
part of biographers and bibliographers. See Opus .
Last Modified Sunday, Jul 23, 2009