Accessing Digital Music Scores

Submitted by deckt on Thu, 04/30/2020 - 16:12
Author
Trevor Deck, Music & Film Collections Management Librarian

One of the Music Library’s most immediate challenges since the campus-wide closures due to COVID19 has been the matter of how to go about providing access to scores in a strictly online environment. While there is no direct substitute for the two hundred fifty-six thousand scores available in our physical collection, there are several options we can explore to help provide some level of access to digital scores for the time being:

Selection of Open Access Options:

IMSLP

The most well-known and comprehensive open-access online score database is the Petrucci Music Library, also known as the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP). This website is host to a vast online depository of open-access and public domain digitized music scores. It serves as a great starting point when searching for open-access digital music scores. The database currently contains 157,932 works, 511,791 scores, 60,558 recordings, 18,716 composers, and 538 performers.

All the contents on the database are either in the public domain or contain some level of Creative Commons licensing attribution. You can find more information about the different types of Creative Commons licenses here.

Hathitrust

HathiTrust is a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items, including thousands of digitized scores. Some items in the collection are public domain and allow full access, while other items are restricted due to copyright limitations. In response to the COVID19 crisis, Hathitrust has temporarily opened up extended access to its collection. U of T faculty and students now have online access to pre-2004 in-copyright volumes in the HathiTrust Digital Library for which a print copy is also held by U of T (this currently amounts to 1758 additional scores).

Mind for Music

Here you will find an ever-growing database of song and solo transcriptions, arrangements of jazz, contemporary and traditional music, valuable online practice tools and important information/concepts pertaining to modern and traditional forms of music and art, all free to use and share.

Developed by Toronto-based guitarist Steve Frise, Mind For Music was originally intended as a way for musicians and music lovers to share solo and song transcriptions with each other over the web, all free of charge and solely for educational and personal use. Since its inception, the site has grown to include practice tools and videos, as well as important articles/information about music, art and our world. All the transcriptions on Mind for Music come from the hard work of individual musicians who have uploaded or otherwise sent their interpretations of these works to be shared by the world-wide music community, for the purposes of academic study, individual practice or for other personal uses.

U of T Music Library Digital Collection on Internet Archive

Archive.org, in collaboration with the Music Library, has digitized thousands of scores and books from the University of Toronto Music Library Rare Book Room and special collections. The collection currently contains 2344 pieces of sheet music and 2491 items from our Olnick Rare Book Room, all of which are freely available to browse online.

Sonata, op. 49, no. 2 for piano solo by Ludwig van Beethoven, edited and annotated by Frederick Lillebridge, from the Music Library's Canadian sheet music collection.

Canadian Music Centre (CMC)

Not only does Canadian Music Centre (CMC) maintain an extensive archive of scores and works of Canadian composers, they also strive to make it easily accessible through their lending library, publishing house and repertoire consultation service. CMC publishes and hosts a large collection of sheet music from Canadian composers, and the site allows you to peruse and download scores free of charge (though you are prohibited from printing downloaded scores).

Digital Scores Available through University of Toronto Libraries

Music Online: Classical Scores Library

From Alexander Street Press, ‘Music Online: Classical Scores Library’ is a series of four volumes with a mission to provide a reliable and authoritative source for scores of the classical canon, as well as a resource for the discovery of lesser-known contemporary works. The collections encompass all major classical musical genres and time periods from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. With full, study, piano, and vocal scores, this comprehensive collection aims to enhance the study of music history, performance, composition and theory for a variety of scholars.

Plangere Editions Digital Music Scores

Select ‘Plangere Editions’ from the Collections dropdown menu.

Plangere Editions is a Canadian Music Publishing House specializing in historically accurate authoritative music editions of piano, voice and chamber music from the 14th century to our present day. University of Toronto Libraries recently collaborated with Plangere Editions and Scholars Portal to establish digital access to hundreds of scores from the Plangere Editions catalogue for the U of T community. The scores are available to download and print in PDF format.

The links above, of course, do not represent an exhaustive list of available options for digital access to sheet music. If you know of additional links worth recommending, please feel free to send them to me at trevor.deck@utoronto.ca.

We are also currently exploring several options for subscription-based resources that could help provide further coverage for digital music scores while we await the reopening of the Music Library. These options include resources such as nKoda, Naxos Sheet Music, Babelscores, and LibraryMusicSource.com. Stay tuned for updates, and if you are having trouble sourcing digital access to specific scores or other library materials, the Music Library would be happy to assist with your search!

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