Answered By: Chris Pollette
Last Updated: Jun 02, 2015     Views: 470

Uniform titles provide consistent, standardized ways of identifying individual compositions and groups of compositions. This makes it possible to find works all scores and recordings of a work without having to look up every conceivable title the piece might have been called. A library catalog record gives both the work's Title—meaning the title used by the publisher—and its Uniform Title.

Works with Distinctive Titles

If the work's title is distinctive, the uniform title consists of its original title (from the manuscript or first edition) in the original language.

Examples of distinctive titles:

Daphnis et Chlöe
Mer (for "La Mer": initial articles are dropped.)
Missa Solemnis
Otello (Italian equivalent of Othello)
Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)
Symphonie de Psaumes
Wohltemperierte Klavier (Well Tempered Clavier)
Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)
Zhar-ptitsa (The Firebird)

Works with Form or Genre Titles

If the composer's original title is simply a form name or genre (with or without key and number), the title is considered nondistinctive. The first word of the uniform title is the form or genre, and it's always in the plural except when the composer wrote only one sonata, nocturne, etc.

Examples of form and genre terms used in uniform titles:

Pieces (also Stücke, if the title was German)

The instrumentation, number (ordinal, opus, and or catalog number) and key are often added to the form name.

Collections of Works in the Same Medium

This type of uniform title is used when one recording or score consists of various types of pieces that are all for the same medium.


Choral music
Guitar music
Violin music
Vocal music

Complete Works of Individual Composers

The uniform title Works is used for a set of the complete works of a composer. Note that many editions of complete works are still in the process of being published—volume by volume. Look at the bottom of the item record to see which volumes are actually in the library's collection.

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