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Citing music: MLA style


If more than one city is listed, you usually go with the first one, which is typically the "home" or flagship of the publisher.

If you cannot find a year of publication on the score itself, then look up the item in the library online catalog. If the year is listed there, use it. If the year is indicated as 19? then use that. Your librarian can help you with this. 

Titles should be expressed as they appear on the publication. If your score reads Le Nozze di Figaro, do *not* translate to The Marriage of Figaro. If your title page reads Klavier Konzert, then do *not* translate to Piano Concerto.

Scores: For the whole work. Citation Format B=bibliography N=footnote

Cite your musical score as you would a book. 

Composer Last Name, First.  Name of Musical Work.
                City, State (if city isn't well known): Publisher, Year.
ex:  Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus.  Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525.
                Bryn Mawr, PA:  Theodore Presser, 1960.

N:  ¹Composer First Name Last, Name of Musical Work 
(City, State: Publisher, Year).
ex:  ²Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Eine kleine Nachthmusik, K. 525
(Bryn Mawr, PA:  Theodore Presser, 1960).

See Chicago Manual Online: 14.269 Published scores

Scores: From Collected Editions/Collected Sets

Use the title page in your volume to gain information such as Series, Workgroup, editor(s), etc. Keep titles in their original language and italicize. Use sentence style capitalization--for example, in German, nouns are capitalized, verbs and adjectives are not.  After the title, go ahead and translate foreign terms to English. Reihe = series. Band = volume. Werkgrupp = workgroup. Teilband = part. Replace Roman numerals with regular numbers: Series 2, NOT Series II. If there is more than one city listed, choose the first one. "Vorgelegt von" or "herausgegeben von" (edited by) is where you locate editor names.

You'll notice that Series and Workgroup often have accompanying genres/titles. For example, Series II: Bühnenwerke, and Werkgruppe 5: Opern und Singspiele. You can leave these titles off. series 2 and workgroup 5 suffice.

If your volume contains a whole opera but your paper only concerns one aria, then indicate the aria in your footnote, using the "Chapters and Essays" tab above to inform your citation. You'll also want to do this if your volume contains two concertos and you're only concerned with one, or if you're only concerned with one movement from a symphony, etc. In other words: cite the whole in the bibliography, but add the "part" in your footnote. An aria should go in quotation marks. But whole compositions or movements can stand alone. See Misti for assistance.

B: Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Così fan tutte. Wolfgang Amadeus
                Mozart neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke
, series 2,

                workgroup 5, vol. 18, parts 1 and 2. Edited by Faye
                Ferguson and Wolfgang Rehm. Kassel:
                Bärenreiter, 1991.

B: Haydn, Joseph. Konzerte für Violoncello und Orchester. Joseph
                 Haydn Werke
, series 3, vol. 2. Edited by Sonja Gerlach.

                München: G. Henle, 1981.

B: Schumann, Robert. 3. Symphonie, Opus 97. Robert Schumann
                 neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke
, series 1, workgroup 1,

                vol. 3. Edited by Linda Correll Roesner. Mainz:
                Schott, 1995.

For footnotes, you know what to do: change to First Name Last, replace periods with commas, replace “Edited by” with “ed.” or “eds.” and put publication information in parentheses.

See Chicago Manual Online: 14.269 Published scores

Song: In an Anthology

Cite a song from an anthology/collection as you would a book chapter.

B: Wolf, Hugo. “Lebe wohl.” In The Lieder Anthology,
                edited by Virginia Saya and Richard Walters,
                33-34. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 2003.

N: ¹ Hugo Wolf, “Lebe wohl,” in The Lieder Anthology,
                eds. Virginia Saya and Richard Walters
                (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 2003): 33-34.

See Chicago Manual Online: 14.111 Chapter in a single-author book

Unpublished scores

Unpublished scores are treated in the same way as other unpublished material in manuscript collections (see 14.232–42).

 N: 2. Ralph Shapey, “Partita for Violin and Thirteen Players,” score, 1966, Special Collections,

Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago.


See Chicago Manual Online: 14.270 Unpublished scores