Melody databases: Dictionary of Musical Themes
Thanks for your overwhelming responses. There were nearly 50 replies
(with one scolding for my shameful treatment of elderly ladies), and most
of you had the same response.
The original question was:
Looking for a 'melody dictionary' where the entries are notes - first
themes/phrases of certain pieces arranged in some unknown fashion. If
one can hum or play the melody, this book will tell you the title,
The most popular answer was:
"Dictionary of Vocal Themes,"
"Dictionary of Musical Themes," and
"Dictionary of Opera and Song Themes"
all by Harold Barlow and Sam Morgenstern, published by Crown Publishers,
Inc, NY with such dates as 1948, 1950, 1963, 1974, 1975. (one was
published in London by Ernest Benn, Ltd. in 1974) One detailed
description said there were over 10,000 themes indexed and
Transpose your melody to C and look it up. i.e.>GG G Eb F F F
DG G G Eb F Fit as B948, which is "Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 57, 1st
Movement, 1st theme A". It goes on to give 17 more main and subordinate
themes for the 5th Symphony alone (it's 642 pages).
They are out of print, but are still available used online at
amazon.com and other places. There was also a reprint: Reprint Services
Corp. 1990 (Orig. 1948). ISBN 0781292662
Another book mentioned was: Denys Parson's "Directory of Tunes
and Musical Themes," published by Spencer Brown, in Cambridge, Eng. 1975,
Identifies 15,000 vocal and instrumental themes by representing
first sixteen notes of each theme by pitch direction.
You don't need to know the notes or transpose with this one - you
simply note down if the notes go up, down or stay the same. Beethoven 5
will be classified as
There are other similar books with more specialized focus, such
as opera, jazz, concertos, organ preludes, and some devoted to the music
of one composer, e.g. Bach, Mozart, Purcell.
"Hymns & Tunes: an index" (though I could be wrong about the
title). The tunes are listed according to the sol-feg system, so for
example "Mary had a little lamb" would be mrdrmmm, with no indication of
rhythm. I believe it's shelved in the religion section of the library
(Library of Congress classification BV).
Thanks so much for your combined wisdom. Actually, this is better
classified as 'knowledge' than 'wisdom,' but thanks anyway!
Our beloved former Choralist leader passed on some additional online
sources regarding the thematic dictionary, (see below) and one other
person wrote to say that there was another title of the same kind of book
"Dictionary of 10,000 Musical Melodies."
There's the "Themefinder" at: http://www.themefinder.org/
"Melody Hound" found either at: http://name-this-tune.com/
or at: http://melodyhound.com/