American Vernacular Music Manuscripts: Search Help

Basic searching

  1. Enter search terms into any search box, or click the Browse Index button for specific fields to browse and select terms, then click the Submit button.
  2. Records that meet your criteria are displayed as a report.
  3. To change the way records appear or their sort order, select a different form from the drop-down list (if available).

Searching with words and phrases

Type the word you want to find (e.g. waltz) or type a phrase in quotation marks(e.g. "holographic notation") to find those words in that order.

Stemming is automatic on most fields. (e.g. waltz finds waltz, waltzes, waltzing, etc.).

Use the symbols & / ! between words or phrases to represent Boolean AND, OR, NOT. Include a space before and after the symbol. On many fields, AND is applied automatically to words you enter.

Use the proximity operators w# (within) and p# (preceding) to find words near each other.


Type this… To find…
holographic notation a phrase (those words, in that order)
vocal / instrumental either word (or both)
vocal & instrumental items that contain both words (items that contain just one of the words will be ignored)
vocal ! instrumental vocal but not instrumental
quadrilles p3 waltzes quadrilles preceding waltzes by 3 words or fewer. Do not string together phrases - use single words only.
vocal w5 instrumental vocal within 5 words of instrumental (before or after). Do not include phrases.

Words joined by & / ! are evaluated in left-to-right order. For example, red & white / blue finds index items that contain "red" and "white", or items that contain "blue". Use parentheses to control evaluation order: For example, red & (white / blue) finds index items that contain "red" and "white" OR "red" AND "blue".

Searching with a date

To search with a date, use any acceptable format, including, but not limited to, the examples shown below:

  • 31-Dec-1850
  • Dec 31, 1850
  • 1850 Dec
  • December 1850

Do not use a forward slash to separate date elements unless you surround the date with quotation marks (for example, "12/31/1850").

You can use the symbols & / ! between dates to do AND-OR-NOT searches. For example, May 1850 / June 1850 finds all dates in May or June 1850.

You can do "less than", "greater than", and range searches for dates (see examples below).

Doing "less than", "greater than", and "between" or "range" searches

You can search for items greater than or less than a certain value, or within a range. This is most commonly done when searching for dates, but can also be done when searching for values or text. Use the symbols shown below. When used with a partial date, these symbols search from the beginning of the date (first day of the month or year). A range consists of two values, low and high, separated by a colon. Include spaces around the colon.

Symbol Meaning Example
< less than
< 1850 finds dates before January 1, 1850
<= less than or equal to
(on or before)
<= 6-15-1850 finds dates on or before June 15, 1850
> greater than

> 1850 finds dates after December 31, 1850
>= greater than or equal to
(on or after)
>= 500 finds values greater than or equal to 500
: between

1830 : 1850 finds dates from Jan. 1, 1830 through Dec. 31, 1850 (inclusive)
200 : 300 finds values between 200 and 300 (inclusive)

Searching with an exact term or phrase

A term is a complete item, with no additional text before or after. To search for a term, precede it with an equal sign (=). For example, =yankee doodle finds only that complete term (does not find just "yankee" or just "doodle" or that phrase embedded in other text).

Case and punctuation

Case in query criteria is usually ignored (e.g. a search for yankee doodle finds Yankee Doodle). Punctuation is also ignored, except for the AND-OR-NOT symbols (& / !) and search symbols (for example, : = < >). If you do not want these characters to be interpreted as search symbols, use quotation marks ("heart & lute") or replace the punctuation with a space (heart lute).

Note: For Code fields, punctuation and case are not ignored. Code fields are often used for URLs. If the query box has a Browse button, click it and see if the term entries include punctuation. If they do, the field is a Code field.

Displaying records after a search

A successful search finds one or more records, which are displayed in your Web browser as a report. Use the browser controls as you normally would, to browse, print, go back, and so forth. You can also:

  • Change the report's appearance and sort order. Select a form from the drop-down list on the page (if available).
  • Jump to other locations. Click links on the report to display more detail or jump to other pages.
  • Display additional pages. Click the Next and Previous links on the report page.

Emailing, saving, printing or requesting items from a list

If available, you can tick a box or click an Add button to save records to a temporary list. When viewing your list, you may have the option to save the list to a text file, print the list, email the list to yourself or a colleague, or submit notes or comments about the items.

Troubleshooting and FAQ

If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems and potential solutions are listed below.

I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."

The program cannot understand the search criteria. Possible problems include:

  • Typographical errors
  • Mismatched quotes or parentheses
  • Extra Boolean search symbols (for example, you should have typed car / auto instead of car / auto / )
  • Missing quotation marks around symbols that can be misinterpreted. For example, search for "".

If you cannot determine what caused the error, try a simpler search (for example, just a word in a box) to see if it works. If the search form includes Browse buttons, use them to construct the query, instead of typing criteria. If even simple searches do not work, contact the Webmaster for the site.

I found too many records.

Click the Revise Search link to return to the search screen with your search terms visible, then try one of the following changes to find fewer results.

  • If you used an asterisk, omit it and try an exact search instead. For example, search for =computer technology instead of comp*. (Note that in many fields the stemming of search terms with the asterisk is automatic.)
  • Try using a Boolean symbol (& / !) between words to construct more precise queries. For example, to find articles about mythology, not cartoons, search for hercules ! cartoon.
  • If the item you are searching for includes punctuation, substitute spaces for punctuation (for example, search for db textworks, not db/textworks) or surround the item with quotation marks ("db/textworks").
  • If you are searching for a date, do not use a forward slash between date components (for example, search for 12-12-98) or surround the date with quotation marks ("12/12/98").

I did not find any records.

Click the Revise Search link to return to the search screen with your search terms visible, then try one of the following changes to find fewer results.

  • Examine the contents of the search form (especially if it is longer than the screen) to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.
  • If you are not sure of the spelling, use an asterisk after the first few characters (for example, colo*) or separate several possible spellings with a forward slash (for example, search for color / colour). (Note that many fields have the asterisk automatically appended to all search terms already).
  • If you did a complex search, try simplifying it to eliminate confusion. If the search form has Browse Index buttons, use them to view and paste items to search for.
  • If you are searching for a URL, try typing it all in lower case.
  • If you are trying to find records that contain multiple words anywhere in the record, separate the words with Boolean symbols (& / !). Otherwise, you are doing a phrase search, which finds these words in that order.
  • If your search includes Boolean symbols (/ & !) or range searches (:), put spaces around the symbols.
  • Do not use words (and, or, not) for Boolean operators. You must use the Boolean symbols (& / !).
  • Try using / instead of & between words. Using / means either word can be present (john / paul finds John or Paul). Using & means both words must be present (john & paul will not find just "John" or just "Paul").
  • Remember that range searches involving partial dates start from the beginning of the range. For example: <1903 means "before Jan. 1, 1903."

When I try to display records or change forms, I get the message, "Your current query has expired. Perform the search again."

The query set file that stored your search results has expired, so you will have to do your search again. If this message occurs frequently, contact the Webmaster for the site.