Chasing the Elusive Tune

Did I mention that your very own Multnomah County Library has the best collection of sheet music and other music instruction materials in any public library west of the Mississippi? I have some of it checked out right now, plus lots I’ve bought, but still I can never find ‘that tune’. You know, the one I can’t get out of my head, that tune. You can search for individual tunes in the catalog by putting the title in quotes as a keyword search and limiting to sheet music (More search options > Material Type > Music score). The problem is that not all larger collections of sheet music have the full table of contents in our catalog (for reasons irrelevant here).

There are a number of possible work-arounds. You could use a song index in book form where you can look up songs by title and see which of a finite set of sheet music collections they might be in, and then check to see if we have said collections in our collection. We have reference copies of a number of these that live on the Third Floor of Central Library.  (A keyword search in the catalog for <song index> gives a decidedly over-inclusive result, a subject search for <indexes-songs> an under-inclusive one.) Or you could go to the web sites of some of the bigger publishers of sheet music from whom we buy fake books (say Hal Leonard). I’ve done that and it works OK too.  Or you could go to World Cat (which generally has the full contents) via our website and do a title phrase search for the name of the song and limit it to things we own (thanks to our music librarian for walking me through this process).

Or, you could get frustrated decide to learn to play by ear, take out some of our material on ear training and never have to rely on sheet music again. More work in the short run, bigger pay off in the end. Maybe someday I’ll get my stuff together and actually do this. The music collection certainly does have its quirks, so don’t hesitate to call our Reference Line (503-988-5234) for assistance.