April 23, 2021

Printed Music in the Digital Age

While some musicians are now playing almost exclusively from electronic scores, most of us are still playing and singing from good old paper sheet music. Most sheet music stores have gone the way of the dinosaur, so one must now take stock of where to get sheet music on-line.

If you need popular music right now, your best bet is musicnotes.com. You open a Musicnotes account with your credit card information and are able to print purchases from your own printer. Most pieces allow you to transpose to a different key with a handy voice range listed to facilitate choosing the correct key for your voice. Music notes has not gone to the trouble of re-voicing accompaniments however, so be forewarned that if you go more than a third away from the original key, the sheet music may be more difficult to play with notes off the ledger lines. You may also get lots of double sharps and flats due to the less intuitive automated transposition program that Musicnotes must be using. Still, having your song in the proper key may be better than hoping your accompanist can transpose on the spot. If  you are a repeat purchaser, you may want to consider becoming a Musicnotes Digital Club member to get 10% off all of your purchases. You can sign up for the Musicnotes newsletter which keeps you abreast of what is selling on their site, the sheet music equivalent of the “top 40.”

I find myself going to Sheet Music Plus when I have the time to order sheet music that will be sent via snail mail. They have a large selection of printed music, especially in the classical department. They periodically run sales on music from select music publishers like Carl Fisher or Alfred. Sheet Music Plus also features digital printing, but I am less familiar with this area of their business.

If you are searching for a piece of classical music that is in the public domain, the Petrucci Music Library should be your first stop. The site has thousands of pieces of music that are absolutely free. You can search by composer or title and once you locate your piece, you can easily download and print the sheet music file. The site is continually adding new material.

Don’t forget about your local library which allows you to check out sheet music. Your library system may allow you to request sheet music which would be transferred to your home library for pick-up.

A future blog post will discuss sheet music use on your iPad or PC tablet.

musicnotes.com (Music Notes)

sheetmusicplus.com (Sheet Music Plus)

imslp.org (Petrucci Music Library)

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