Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BEDA Day 22: Free Public Domain Classical Sheet Music

When I'm looking for a score online, I usually turn to Classical Scores Library, which contains 12,366 scores in 213,332 pages. This service, like Naxos Music Library, is available only by paid individual subscription or through university music libraries (including CUA).

But what if you're neither a student nor willing to pay for your public domain music needs? Here are a few free and legal solutions:

1.) IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library

2.) Mutopia

3.) MuseData

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1.) The IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library claims 14,898 works and 28,244 individual scores. Their selection looks quite impressive and useful, and the "Random Page" link on the top left provides a promising selection.

This should be your first stop. But be warned: as an online site based in Canada, IMSLP does offer some scores that are still under copyright in the US, while out of copyright elsewhere. This means that it's NOT legal for someone in the US to download these.

2.) Mutopia hosts 1,541 scores. Their site is noticeably harder to navigate, yet they do offer some benefits. These include downloadable PDF scores typeset using the beautiful, open source Lilypond engraving tool, as well as preview score snippets and (usually) MIDI files.

3.) MuseData, sponsored by Stanford University's Center for Computer-Assisted Research in the Humanities, focuses on "music composed in Europe roughly between 1700 and 1825." They have PDF scores by Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, and Vivaldi only, as well as MIDI files of a handful of others.

Note: This site requires registration and acceptance of a user agreement, making it that much less useful. But hey, who can complain about free, legal sheet music?

I hope this post was good for you. It was good for me. :)

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