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Using RILM

A guide on how to use RILM, a database on scholarly works concerning music.


Truncation and Wildcards are very similar... However Truncation is used specifically when there is a word that has multiple endings that refer to similar things (such as violin and violine, etc.).

This database uses the "*" character to symbolize two things.

By using the "*" at the end of the word, it lets the search engine know that you want all instances where the word starts a certain way (for example, anything that starts with sympon-), and has different endings. This means that you would not have to think of all the ways that the word could end, which simplifies this type of search.

If you had just looked for "Violin Concerto" you would get a number of results like this:

But by putting the "*" after the stem (or the beginning) of the word you can get more results:

An important thing to note is that you need to figure out how a word changes. In this example knowing that the word concerto can have forms like concerti and concertos helps in figuring out that you want to put the "*" after the "t."

Had the asterisk been put after the "o" in "concerto" the results would have been like this:

which is almost 600 fewer results!

The second use for the "*" is that is can be used to replace a word in the middle of a sentence.

This can be very useful if you have a case where the title of the piece has a lot of common words that search engines often throw out because if they were included the results would cease to be relevant. An example of a word like this is the work "the" which shows up everywhere.

Here is a slightly artificial example (in reality searching with "Wolfgang Mozart" probably is not the most practical way of approaching this type of search anyway):

By adding the "*" we increase the results by over a thousand!

By adding a second one, the results are increased by another 80 (or so)....

And a third "*" adds another 50.

Practically, this is only useful in a handful of searches (ones in which you need the words to be a certain proximity from each other).