Saturday, February 26, 2011

IMSLP - 85,000+ free, downloadable, classical music scores, staying alive

The New York Times's Daniel J. Wakin writes about the amazing International Music Score Library Project site and its (successful) battle to stay alive, with its treasure of 85,000 scores or parts (for nearly 35,000 works - public-domain, classical) available for free download.   There are "several thousand being added every month." Included also are performances on recordings.

  While publishers have challenged the right to download, for free, music scores written a couple of hundred years ago, the challenges have been weak, and a primary challenger, Universal Edition (Europe) has been making more conciliatory sounds,saying several times in an interview that:
'...“there’s room for both of us.”  At the same time, Mr. Irons said, it is important to separate “this very valiant and completely kosher and clean repository of public material, which we perfectly endorse, and this kind of firebrand ‘We want to show the publishers they’re wrong’ kind of attitude." '

 The photo at the top-left (larger one here) is of the owner, Edward W. Guo, who founded the site 5 years ago, when he was 19.  He's now at Harvard studying law, the copyright questions having stoked his interest in that.
' With the reports of billion-dollar valuations floating around other interactive Web sites, has Mr. Guo ever thought of trying to profit from his site?

“That’s really not my M.O.,” he said. “As a musician I have a duty to promote music. That’s the basic philosophy behind it.” '

You can read how he began the site, and what's involved, at the NYT article.

I wrote a blog article on this (and on sheet music for the Kindle) in 2009, and I'll include some of that below for any of the several million later Kindle-3 owners who might be interested in the free classical music scores.  It's a wonderful resource.

  I've a few files of sheet music on my Kindle DX in PDF format and they look really nice.  At the bottom, I've placed a link to a couple of examples.

You can scan sheet music, that you already have, to images at about 150 dpi (dots per inch), as 300 dpi is not needed for this, and they'll load or give you faster page turns).  You can't take notes on the sheet music, on the Kindle, but you could learn pieces, write notes on them and then scan them for carrying around or always having with you.
  (I preface the sheet music filenames with 'sm-' for sheet music so that I can find them easily.)

Google "sheet music pdf" and you'll find many places that offer music in PDF format.  For classical, there is the IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library - "The free public domain sheet music library" with downloadable PDFs, and you can search by composer name, time period, genre, or instrumentation.  The full name of this amazing website is International Music Score Library Project, and the files are legal.  Here is their FAQ explaining the organization.
. . .
I have a couple of photos of some sheet music (PDFs) on my DX, in vertical mode and rotated to landscape mode.  It's very clear, but the display is still somewhat smaller than an 8.5 x 11" piece of paper.  Best used when you've become acquainted with the notes.  And if the images are very high resolution it may take a few seconds for a page turn.  On the whole, the ones I have take about 2 seconds to turn.  For me, pressing the button (on the inside) is much easier than trying to do a page turn with paper.

  As for music in general on the Kindle, all the Kindles play mp3's.  
On the Kindle 2 & 3 and the DX, they play in the order in which they were placed in the "music" folder.  (On the original Kindle (Kindle 1), they play in random order.)  The features are minimal in that the music can play in the background while you're reading and you can rewind 30 seconds back or fast forward by the same, but you don't get information on what's playing.

  If you want a specific mp3 to play you can put it in the "audible" folder and select it from the Home page, as it will look like a book title, but in that case you wouldn't be able to read a book at the same time.

  I should add that the 6" Kindle (UK: K3) is too small (for reading sheet music while playing it), except for study purposes now that we can use the Zoom feature on PDFs.  Also, with either Kindle you don't want to turn pages in a panic and knock the Kindle off the stand :-)

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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