I’m looking for the lyrics to the song “Up, Up and Away” by the 5th Dimension, but the catalog says it’s a Score in the Fine Arts Division. I’m not sure what that means, and I don’t read music; am I going to be able to get the lyrics from that?

Short answer, yes! To be absolutely sure, you should probably check the “Full Display” for the item in the catalog—that will almost always tell you whether the lyrics are part of it. The Dallas Library System’s Fine Arts Division has lots more than just DVDs and Music CDs—in fact, a big part of that division’s collection is the Scores.

As far as the catalog is concerned, and as far as the place where it’s located on the Central Library’s 4th floor goes, a score is likely to be anything that is mostly printed musical symbols. That includes books of songs like the one you found, and since that one says “Vocal scores with piano” in the Full Display that means it will have lyrics. It will also have a piano arrangement of the music (although it does sound like it includes the actual piano, doesn’t it?), but you definitely won’t need that to make sense of the lyrics.

The collection includes orchestra scores, folksong collections, vocal score with piano, sometimes called a piano/vocal score—and these often include symbols above the melody line so that guitar players can tell what chords to play and when to change to another chord. There are books of practice material to help musicians improve their playing, books that help someone who’s just starting out on an instrument, and even some collections of parts for a group of musicians so that an entire group can play a single piece together.

There’s unusual stuff too. Some of it just looks unusual, like the books of guitar tablature that show a guitar player where the fingers are placed on the guitar’s fretboard; these are easier for guitarists to play than music written on a traditional staff. Some things in the collection just have weird names, like the collection of Fake Books (that’s “FAKE book,” not “fake BOOK”), which are really just collections of the melodies and lyrics of songs with the chord symbols—kind of like a piano/vocal score without the piano. They’re called Fake Books because they have all the information musicians need to “fake” a song—that is, to play the song even if they don’t know it.

And there are specialty items, as well, like The Big Red Songbook, which is an expanded edition of a famous collection of left-wing songs; shape-note hymnals, which are like regular hymnals that you’d see in church, except some of the notes have triangles and squares instead of circles on the staff; and there’s least one score for an electronic piece (Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Studie II) that maps the frequencies of the music onto a grid:

If you’d like to learn to read music, we can help with that in several ways. We have a lot of books that teach you how to read music, but we also have classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons; Tuesday and Wednesday, our own Bill Smith teaches music using keyboards, and on Thursday he teaches a guitar class. And we have the guitars and keyboards, so if you can’t bring your own, don’t let that stop you. Stick with us and before long you’ll be ready for our Open Mic Night—we have one of those, too!

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