Source Types and Key Terminology

Autograph Manuscript – manuscript of a musical work in the composer’s hand

Copyist Manuscript – manuscript made by a composer’s copyist (often a student or assistant)

Sketch/Fragment – partial manuscript of a composition, often representing alternate or incomplete versions of a work; the work may exist in complete manuscript or edition elsewhere, or remain unrealized

Facsimile Edition – Scanned reproductions of a manuscript, often with introductory notes

Urtext Edition – A modern edition of earlier music that purports to present the original musical text without editing or editorial emendation

First Edition – The first printing of a work (often for publication or performance; in modern notation); occasionally published during the composer’s lifetime; often followed by second editions and reprintings

Critical Edition – An edition of the work based on scholarly evaluation and collation of all existing sources

Performing Edition – Edited score meant to eliminate extraneous editorial marking for the performer


Useful resources on manuscripts and editions:

Grove Dictionary articles: “Editing” and “Editions”

Article on Music Manuscripts in the British Library


Key Terminology:

Public Domain (PD): Applies to works that have fallen out of copyright and may be freely downloaded, distributed, etc.

Non-Public Domain (Non-PD): Applies to works that remain under copyright.

*Copyright laws vary from country to country. See IMSLP’s statement here.

n.d. = No Date (used for undated manuscript scores)

Foreign terms frequently encountered in editions:

Ausgabe – German word for “edition” (Neue Mozart-Ausgabe = New Mozart Edition)