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Syracuse University Libraries

Music: Primary Sources

for music history & cultures, scores, recordings, data, copyright, and more!

Primary Sources for Music

Types of primary sources used in music research includePage of Syracuse Gradual:

  • manuscripts and early printed editions of scores
  • marked scores or parts from early performances
  • facsimiles of manuscripts or letters
  • audio or visual recordings
  • letters or diaries of musicians and those associated with the performance and consumption of music
  • newspapers and magazines from the time of a performance
  • musical instruments and equipment
  • field recordings, interview transcriptions, and folklore collections

Digitized Primary Source Databases at SU Libraries

Historical Newspapers

Finding Other Sources

Physical Primary Sources at SU

Many scores and recordings in the circulating physical collection are primary sources including manuscript facsimiles, audio recordings, and early printings. The search terms --facsimile or --sources can help you find them. Beyond these, the SCRC holds everything from medieval music manuscripts to an Oscar!

Facsimilies in SU Libraries

There are a few ways to locate facsimile images of manuscripts and early editions in the stacks of the library. Many printed scores contain images of specific pages of manuscripts in order to facilitate study of the work, and there are also entire manuscript works reproduced as a printed score.

  • Search Summon for the composer name and some keywords from a work title, plus the word facsim* . That is the abbreviation for the word "facsimile." Shortening the word to "facsim" and putting an asterisk after it is called stemming. That keyword will bring back any results that contain fascim, facsims, facsimile, and facsimiles. 
  • Browse the library shelves in Library of Congress class ML94-96. This is where entire manuscripts that are re-printed in facsimile editions are shelved in the library. 
  • Locate your work in a scholarly collected works edition. There are often images of manuscripts published within those scholarly editions. 

Digital Scores Online: Specific Composers or Libraries