How to search the catalogue for popular songs

What does the Music collection include?

State Library's music collection comprises books, encyclopaedias, directories and journals, as well as scores, sheet music, songbooks and sound recordings. Online resources and videos are also available.

The library holds over 40,000 scores, and an extensive collection of sheet music (over 100 000 items). The popular songbook collection contains over 2100 items and sound recordings include over 5,500 CDs.

State Library offers a number of music eresources, including Oxford Music Online, E-Music Quest, The Music Index, Classical Music Library and Naxos Music Library.

What does 'Popular song' include?

Popular songs include jazz songs, pop songs, rock, rap, blues, country, folk songs, 'golden oldies', broadway songs, show songs, 'old time radio' songs, vaudeville and music hall songs, songs from musicals, songs from films, and songs in community songbooks.

Where do I find popular songs in the library?

Most popular songs can be found in State Library's collection of popular songbooks. These songbooks comprise over 2100 titles, and are shelved on open access, on Level 3. The call number prefix for this collection is MUSIC, and is shelved in running number order.

Folk songs, and songs from musical theatre, can also be found in the general lending collection. The call number prefix for this collection is SCR, and is also on open access on Level 3. Songs in the general lending collection are not individually catalogued, but library staff can assist you to locate the songs for which you are looking. Folk songs may be found in collected anthologies, and songs from musical theatre may be found by searching for the name of a musical or its composer.

State Library has an extensive collection of sheet music, including thousands of popular songs. This material is currently kept in the repository on Level 4, and can only be accessed by staff. As this collection is not catalogued it cannot be searched via the catalogue, but library staff will assist you to find the titles for which you are looking.

How do I locate popular songbooks in the catalogue?

To locate sheet music/popular songs:

  • Go to OneSearch.
  • Type the title of the song
  • Select Scores from the first drop-down menu (located underneath the search box)
  • Select With my Exact Phrase from the second drop-down menu
  • Select In the Title from the third drop-down menu (located underneath the Go button).
  • Click on Go
The popular songbooks are held on open access on Level 3. If the catalogue record states that your items are held in closed access however, a staff member can help you request these.

What is the best way to search for popular songs?

Every song in State Library's popular songbook collection has been catalogued, so each song can be found using a title search (as above). Your search results will refer you to the songbook or songbooks in which the song is contained.

It is important to note that unless your song title is exact, your title search will not succeed. Even the smallest variant in a title can affect the result of the search. Different title search strategies will help you determine the exact title. Here is an example:

A search for 'In my merry automobile' using the with my exact phrase option produces no result. Perhaps part of the title is wrong. Changing the words which begin the title may help. Alternate wording is typed. 'We're in my merry automobile', 'I'm in my merry automobile' and 'My merry automobile' are tried, with again no result.

Searching for 'my automobile' using the contains my query words option also produces no results. 'In my merry' only (without the 'automobile') as an exact phrase search is tried, and finally the search succeeds.

'In my merry automobile' is incorrect but 'In my merry oldsmobile' is correct, and listed in several popular songbooks. Note that some records use 'olds mobile' and others use 'oldsmobile'. Separating conjoint words is another search strategy which may yield a result.

The correct title of the song is 'In my merry oldsmobile'.

What if I know the words to a song, but not its title?

If you know a chorus, or even a few words of a verse, library staff will be able to assist you in finding the song. An internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo is very helpful in verifying the titles and lyrics ofpopular songs. For example:

'Jeremiah was a bullfrog' is the opening lyric of a famous popular song from the 1970s. A Google search of 'Jeremiah was a bullfrog' as a phrase ("Jeremiah was a bullfrog" in doublequotes) gives the correct song-title of 'Joy to the world'

'Joy to the world' is easily found in the library catalogue using a title search.

Are performers' names helpful when searching for popular songs?

Performer's names such as Kitt, U2, Straits, Goodrem, may be used in keyword searching, but will only be helpful if they are included in the title of a songbook, or are listed because they are also the composers of a song.

'U2' typed as a keyword will produce a list of songbooks which contain songs by U2, but not the U2 songs in those songbooks. A scan of each songbook record is necessary to see all the U2 songs State Library holds.

Song composers are more likely to be included in a catalogue record than song performers. Composers of musicals are always searchable as the author of the work.

What if title searching does not work?

If title searching has not produced a successful result, return to the search options screen, click on the 'State Library Collections' tab, and try a keyword search. Not all scores containing songs are part of the popular songbook collection. Songs contained in the general lending collection are often better found using keyword searching, as they are not catalogued individually, but may be listed in the contents field of a record.

To search for the 'In my merry oldsmobile' example, you could try 'merry' and 'oldsmobile', or 'merry' and 'mobile'. Other combinations such as 'merry' and 'music' and 'my' will also produce a result, but may include a lot of irrelevant titles.

Using the composer's name as a keyword, combined with a general word such as 'music' or 'songs', or 'album' or 'anthology', may help to locate the songs you like. For example, 'Kern' and 'music' will retrieve all the musicals composed by Jerome Kern, in addition to popular songbooks.

If you have searched the catalogue using both title and keyword methods, and still cannot find what you are looking for, library staff will assist you to locate the songs you require.

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