Let's say someone has a box full of sheet music for solo piano to give away, and they invite you to rummage through it and take what you like. if you wanted to let them know how many pieces you took, how would you express that? "I took 25 pieces" doesn't quite hit the mark, since 'piece' in music is, I think, subtly more equivalent to 'opus' than to printed music.

'Manuscript' isn't right, since that refers to an original, not one of several reprinted copies.

If I were rummaging through a box of orchestral music I could say, "I look 25 scores," and the person would know exactly what I meant.

Is there a better word than 'piece' here?


1 Answer 1


Piano sheet music is commonly called a score as well.

Etymonline.com cites its usage from 300 years ago:

Meaning "printed piece of music" first recorded 1701, said to be from the practice of connecting related staves by scores of lines.

Piano music, as you probably know, consists of two staves (treble and bass clefs) joined together in that manner.

Footnote: I'm tempted to suggest that the idiom "know the score" (meaning be aware of essential facts about a situation) comes from this usage and not, as commonly supposed, from sports. But that is just conjecture on my part.

  • 2
    Origin of 'know the score' .. an interesting question for this site:))
    – user66974
    Oct 17, 2014 at 13:40
  • To know the score at dictionary.com is said to date from about 1930 and to refer to the score in a game.
    – DjinTonic
    Aug 30, 2021 at 18:32

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