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Many of the online collections below contain digitized images of sheet music in manuscript (MS) format. Please view the Manuscript Format tab in the menu above for more information about finding items in this specific format.
Sheet Music Collections
Sheet Music Consortium
Allows simultaneous searching of several online sheet music collections including:
Lester Levy Collection, Johns Hopkins University, Library of Congress, Indiana University, Duke University, UCLA Music Library, Maine Music Box,National Library of Australia
Lester Levy Collection (Johns Hopkins University)
Contains over 29,000 pieces of American popular music dating from 1780 through 1980. A strength of the collection is its documentation of 19th-century America through popular music.
Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music (Library of Congress)
Contains over 62,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the periods of 1820-1860 and 1870-1885. Includes popular songs, operatic arias, piano music, sacred and secular choral music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and music for band and orchestra.
Historic American Sheet Music: 1850-1920 (Duke University)
Contains over 3,000 pieces of sheet music. Antebellum Southern music, Confederate imprints, and Civil War songs are particular strengths of the collection, but piano music, tin pan alley songs, dance music, spirituals, minstrel songs, World War I songs, and other types of music are included.
Indiana University Sheet Music
Contains approximately 150,000 pieces of sheet music spanning from 1800 onward.
The Maine Music Box
Contains over 22,000 works dating from the late-19th through 20th century. Includes five major collections: Vocal Popular Sheet Music Collection, Parlor Salon Collection, Music for Two Pianos - Eight Hands, Maine Music, and the Haywood Jones Collection.
University of California, Los Angeles, Archive of Popular American Music
UCLA’s Archive of Popular American Music is a research collection covering the history of popular music in the United States from 1790 to the present. This site provides access to digital versions of the sheet music and performances of the songs now in the public domain.
19th-Century California Sheet Music (University of California, Berkeley)
Contains 2,700 pieces of sheet music published in California between 1852 and 1900.
Sheet Music from Canada’s Past (Library and Archives Canada)
Contains over 2,000 pieces of sheet music published in Canada before 1921, selected from Library and Archives Canada's vast collection.
African-American Sheet Music, 1850-1920 (Brown University / Library of Congress)
Contains 1,305 pieces of African-American related sheet music dating from 1850 through 1920. Abolition, the Civil War, and Reconstruction are among the contemporary issues addressed in these songs.
E. Azalia Hackley Collection (Detroit Public Library)
Contains over 600 pieces of sheet music published between 1799 and 1922. Song themes cover early 19th century plantation life, the Civil War period, including abolitionism, emancipation and Reconstruction, early 20th century popular music, and the stereotypical themes associated with blackface minstrelsy.
Yiddish Sheet Music (Brown University)
Contains songs from the Yiddish-language musical stage, as well as art songs, Hebrew and Yiddish language folk songs, and religious music.
Templeton Digital Sheet Music Collection (Mississippi State University)
More than 5,000 popular tunes dating back to 1865 have been digitized. Includes collections of popular music, show tunes, movie songs, minstrel music, blues, and war songs.
World War I Sheet Music (Library of Congress)
Includes more than 13,000 pieces related to WWI, with the greatest number coming from the years of the United States' active involvement (1917-1918) and the immediate postwar period.
Performing Arts in America, 1875-1923 (New York Public Library)
A database of 16,000 objects, including newspaper clippings, photographs, and sheet music of popular songs, show-tunes, jazz and dance music.
University of Oregon Historic Sheet Music Collection
Includes two digitized collections: the Oregon Music Collection (music about Oregon or by Oregonians, published between 1880 and 1921) and the Women Composers Collection.
Kansas City Sheet Music Collection (University of Missouri)
Contains over 660 titles published in Kansas City between 1874 and 1966.
Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music (Baylor University)
Provides online access to nearly 1,000 pieces spanning from the late 18th through the early 20th century.
- Gutenberg:The Sheet Music Project Project Gutenberg volunteers have been engaging in digitizing public domain sheet music, using a variety of techniques, to enable study and performance. For the most part, the musical pieces created have been chamber music, with composers such as Brahms and Beethoven.
- HymnWiki HymnWiki is a site dedicated to hymns, children's songs (those associated with churches and religion), religious anthems, church music, other music commonly grouped with hymns, and compilations.
- Art Song Central Art Song Central is principally an archive and directory of free, printable sheet music for singers and voice teachers. An emphasis is placed on standard classical and traditional repertoire.
- Mutopia The Mutopia Project offers sheet music editions of classical music for free download. These are based on editions in the public domain, and include works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Handel, Mozart, and many others.
American Vernacular Music Manuscripts, ca. 1730-1910 This is a collaborative project between the Center for Popular Music and the American Antiquarian Society to inventory, catalog, digitize, and provide web-based public access to their extensive music manuscripts collections. It concerns manuscripts inscribed before 1910 that are mainly American in provenance, with contents that are preponderantly vernacular in style.
Library of Congress Notated Music Collections The Library of Congress has one of the largest collections of notated music in the world with over 22 million items. These include popular sheet music, instrumental and vocal music, scores and parts, and original manuscripts from composers of all eras
What is sheet music?
Sheet music is best defined by physical format— it occurs as single sheets (printed on one or both sides) and folios. Sheet music is usually a single song arranged for voice and piano (or instrument and piano or just piano). However, the content of sheet music varies widely— it can be either popular music, solo piano music, sacred and secular choral music, dance music, or other genres.
By contrast, music scores are usually bound like a book (or connected together in some way) and contain all the parts of the original arrangement. For example, a score will show you the staves (plural of staff) for all instruments in the orchestra.
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