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Musicals and Musical Theatre: Vocal Scores

Guide to locating vocal scores, cast recordings, librettos, and research sources for musicals and musical theatre
Last Updated: Mar 21, 2022 10:28 AM


The Music Library strives to collect vocal scores for musicals comprehensively. Vocal scores contain the songs--all or a selection--with piano accompaniment. Please note that if you are playing with an accompanist, the pianist will need the vocal score in order to play the piano part; if you find what is called a "fake book" instead, that is not the same thing and your pianist cannot use it. Full scores (all of the music, in the original orchestration) are generally not in the library's collection and are generally not available for a library to purchase. There are some exceptions--please ask if you are looking for a specific show.

In the Library

Method 1: Browsing the shelves

Musical theatre scores (vocal scores) are in section M933. The beginning of the section contains compilations from various shows. After the compilations, scores are alphabetized by composer's last name.

Common call numbers and composers

  • M933 A3 - Collections (more than one composer)
  • M933 A3 W171 - Singer’s Musical Theater Anthology volumes
  • M933 L8254 - Frederick Loewe (Lerner & Loewe)
  • M933 P833 - Cole Porter
  • M933 R616 - Richard Rodgers (Rodgers & Hammerstein; Rodgers & Hart)
  • M933 So57 - Stephen Sondheim
  • M91=01 Su5 - Arthur Sullivan (Gilbert & Sullivan) [note: not in M933]

Additional information about how call numbers work for scores is in our subject guide, Guide to Call Numbers for Scores in the Music Library.

Method 2: Searching in the Catalog

2a: Searching by musical. Type in the title (omit "A" or "The" or, in French, "La" or "Les") of the musical and "vocal scores" (with the quotes). Browse the results for your musical. Once you click on a title, make sure to check the table of contents to confirm the song you want is included. Write down or take a screenshot of the call number, and find the score on the shelf.

2b: Searching by song. Type in the title of the song and "vocal scores" (with the quotes). You will NOT see the song title in the list of results. You will probably see call numbers starting with M933 OR with M7.  You will need to click on the result title and review the table of contents to see if your song is contained in a compilation. Write down or take a screenshot of the call number, and find the score on the shelf.

Brand New Musicals

There can sometimes be a delay between the time a production opens and the time the vocal score is available. We try to buy the vocal scores as soon as they come out, and if you can't find the musical or song you are looking for, ask! If it is available, we will get it for you; if not, we will let you know so you can choose another selection. Please note that the Music Library does not collect e-only/download-only scores.

If You Can't Find a Score

FIRST, please ask for help at the desk and we will try to figure it out. If you need to troubleshoot on your own, some suggestions:

Step 1: Is it on Course Reserve? Vocal scores of standard repertory are often on reserve for MTR210 (Musical Theatre Repertory) during the semesters it is offered. Even if you are not enrolled in the class you can request these at the desk. Please note that reserve loan times are significantly shorter than regular loan times.

Step 2: If you just need one song, it might be in a compilation (or two).

Step 3: If it is checked out, officially missing, still in-process (getting ready to go on the shelf), if you need it by...

  • No particular time, just looking: You can place a Delivery+ request to borrow a score from another library.
  • Tomorrow: The Central Library of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has a great music collection. Check their catalog and also consider calling for help before you make the trip downtown.
  • RIGHT NOW: You may need to consider paying out of your own pocket through a source like Sheet Music Plus Digital Sheet Music or other e-music store.


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Deborah Chiarella