Searching for music you want to hear

There are two ways to find music:

  • Browse: use the pre-defined categories and A-Z lists found in the 'Browse Tracks' box on the left hand menu. 
  • Search: you can use the search box at the top right of every page, or go to the 'Advanced Search' tab for more options.

These help files deal with finding music by searching. Please read this overview and then choose from the other topics in this section on the left hand menu

What are you searching?

Our search engine is created specifically to search classical music, and searches our database of available recordings.

When you use our search engine you are searching for recorded tracks. In most cases there is one track for every movement of a classical work. In the case of a four movement symphony, for example, there would normally be four recorded tracks, one movement per track.

Search results are grouped by work where the individual recorded tracks of that work have the same relevance. If you search using the name of the work, its opus number, composer or genre, then you will see whole works as results. If you search for a specific movement title, you would see individual movements as results. This ensures that relevant result are not hidden alongside other irrelevant movements from the same work.

Compare these two searches:

  • Dichterliebe - the whole work will be returned as the search results
  • Ich grolle nicht - just this one relevant track from the work will be returned as the search results

'Specific Term' searches and 'text' searches

We have created a musically aware "specific term search" which attempts to identify the meaning of search terms you enter, and combine this with a more traditional text search of all database fields. If you searched for the words "string quartet" we can identify recordings which are actually string quartets (as a specific genre) as well as those that happen to include the words 'string' and 'quartet' in their database fields. Learn More...


Search terms are pre-processed before being searched in order to correct common spelling mistakes and to convert alternate formatting to our cataloguing standards, for instance correcting "chikofski" to "Tchaikovsky" and converting "g#-major" into "G sharp major".

Basic vs. Advanced Search

We offer two different search interfaces:

  • Basic Search - Located at the top right of every page. Type anything into this single search box, and our search software will automatically identify when you are looking for composers, artists, instruments or other musical terms, names and properties. Learn More...
  • Advanced Search - This interface offers you the choice to limit which fields are searched. It also offers the facility to select between Boolean "AND" and "OR" logic. Learn More...

Composer spell checking / name suggestion

The advanced search interface offers a 'composer spelling checker' facility, which allows users to enter partial composer names and search for the correct name. This is useful if you are not quite sure how a name is spelt!

Search results

Search results are arranged in order of relevance to your search terms. The most relevant result will be first. Results that are relevant to all of your search terms are called 'Exact Matches'. Results that are only relevant to some of your search terms are called 'Partial Matches'.  Learn More...

Once you have your results there are two ways in which you can narrow down the result set:

  • 'Search within' your results, using the search form at the bottom of the page.
  • Narrow your 'search' using the drop-down filters at the top of the page. These allow you to narrow the result set by selecting from pre-defined categories such as Genres, Instruments and Periods, or by A-Z lists such as Composer. The most relevant filters to your search appear in the handy drop-down boxes, with the exhaustive options accessible by hitting the 'More' button.

Learn more

Please use the left hand menu to select search topics you are interested in.

Learning about how we approach searching and browsing for music can help you get the best out of this service. If there are topics you would like covering in our help section, or items you would like covering in more detail, please e-mail and let us know.