So one of the things that’s been sucking away at my time for blog-writing these last couple months is that I’ve been organizing and programming a benefit concert. While hunting for pieces related to the concert themes, it occurred to me to share some of the Google-fu that I use for finding music. I’m sure these tips are old hat to some of you tech-savvy singers, but others might find them useful.
So, one of my objectives was to find vocal solo or small ensemble pieces from the opera, art song, musical theater, or popular genres on the theme of “gold” or “golden”, since the concert benefits an organization celebrating its golden anniversary season. I did this by using keyword searches on the following websites:
- The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive – for art song and other musical poem/text settings
- Aria Database (aria-database.com) – for aria texts
- Opera Guide / Opernführer and OperaGlass (opera.stanford.edu) – for opera libretti, to get ideas for duets/trios/ensembles
- AllMusicals.com – lyrics from musicals
- Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL) – texts of choral works in the public domain
- Spotify – all genres including popular
- iTunes – search my own music collection or the iTunes store for ideas
Several of these sites contain texts in various translations, so I made sure to search for translated versions of my keywords, too. E.g., in addition to searching for “gold” I would also search for terms “oro”, “d’or”, etc. (It had to be “d’or” for French since “or” would yield too many search results in English texts!) Translating the search terms is less necessary for some of the sites, like The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive and Aria Database because they have English translations of many texts, so my keyword search for “gold” will still yield songs in other languages. Other sites like Opernführer might only have the libretto in the original language or in German, for example, so translating the search keywords is a definite help there.
As for search engines – some of the sites above have a very good site search feature, e.g. The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive and AllMusicals.com, so you can just go directly to their website and enter the keywords into the search form there. But sometimes a website doesn’t have a site search feature (e.g. OperaGlass), the site search feature is too specialized for a general text search (Aria Database), or the site search does not return results of sufficient quantity or quality. In this case, you can do a Google search with the following syntax in order to narrow your search results to a particular site – just include “site:” followed by the domain name of the website to search, with no space in-between:
Once I found song texts that fit my programming theme, I was able to track down scores for songs through online sheet music sellers, IMSLP, CPDL, or by using WorldCat to find scores in libraries local to me.
8/26/13 UPDATE 1: Fellow techie singer Katia H. has created a search tool that searches all of the websites mentioned above, in one fell swoop! It’s over at classicalsongsearch.com – check it out!
8/26/13 UPDATE 2: Glendower Jones contributed this very useful info in the comments for this post:
This is great advice. Many folks may not know of the many massive reference books on vocal repertoire that were written by Sergius Kagen, Noni Espina, Michael Pilkington, Judith Carman, Graham Johnson, Shirley Emmons and Carol Kimball. A very useful reference is Pazdirek, the BBC Song Catalogue and Classical Vocal Music in Print and of course Groves and MGG. I don’t know, but possibly some of these books may now be on Google books.
These are some of the major references but still only a drop in the bucket. Pazdirek, Universal-Handbuch der Musikliteratur was produced in Vienna from 1904-1910 and contained the compilation of practically every music publisher active at the time. This was reprinted in 1967 in the Netherlands and is now free online. Few musicians know of this amazing work. http://archive.org/details/universalhandboo01pazd
Also, in a Facebook comment, Nicholas Perna adds:
As a shameless plug, I can also recommend readers search for Britten’s entire output using The Comprehensive Britten Song Database! www.brittensongdatabase.com
- ClassicalSongSearch.com: A search engine for vocal repertoire
- Working with music texts, Part 1: Find the text online, then sync it to the cloud!
- Working with music texts, Part 2: Translate the text
- IPA dictionaries on the web
- Russian Art Song website & free download: “A Guide to Russian Diction”
- ItalianMadrigal.com: The Italian Madrigal Resource Center – Scores, texts, translations, and more
- Italian resources for stage pronunciation, common word endings, & dictionary apps [via @DictionPolice]
- App Review: Collins Italian/English dictionary for iOS [via Ellen Rissinger/@DictionPolice]
- Digital dictionaries for translating archaic words and spellings