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Sheet music: Get going

What is sheet music?

Sheet musicSheet music contains the graphical representation of musical works. A musical work is graphically represented by means of musical notes or another kind of musical notation. Sheet music can be found on several carriers (for instance paper, microfilm of microfiche), or is digitally available.

The collection of sheet music in the University Library

The collection of Musicology (MUZ) can be found in the University Library City Centre  in section D, level -1. The reference collection can also be found in section D but on level 0. All sheet music and books can be requested via our catalogue.

Searching for sheet music in Utrecht University Library

A musical composition (in print) can often be found in the catalogue of Utrecht University Library 

Do you know the name of the composer and the title of the composition?

If so, enter the name of the composer and one or more words from the title in "Search in All fields". Enter a limited number of search terms to narrow down your search. For instance:KV 30   

You are looking for the sheet music of the Sonata for piano and violin KV 30 by the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In Search in All Fields, enter Mozart KV 30 (more search terms are not needed as these three are  sufficient).  You will be shown a list of results. Next click on Filter, go to Material Type and choose the option Printed music. The result: a small number of hits, of which  most are relevant.

You are looking for sheet music of the cantata Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht BWV 105 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Enter at Search in All Fields: Bach gericht 105. A list of four hits is the result. Click on Filter, go to Material Type and select Printed music. The result: 3 hits, all of them relevant.

Do you only have the title of the composition? Or do you only know a few words from the title?

In that case, enter one or more words from the title in "Search Titlewords".  Also select a few search terms that will make your search as specific as possible. For instance:

You are looking for the sheet music of Musique pour l'esprit en deuil (you have forgotten the name of the composer). Enter musique deuil at Search Title Words. You will be shown a list of results, apparently the combination of terms was specific enough as all results relate to the composition  Musique pour l'esprit en deuil by the composer Rudolf Escher. Now click on Filter, next go to Material Type and select the option Printed music.

Searching for digital sheet music

Nowadays, lots of sheet music is also digitally available. Often sheet music is copyright free if the work or the publication dates back 70 years or more (however, this may differ per country).
ATTENTION PLEASE: These older sheet music editions are not always up to date from a scientific point of view. Prudence is necessary when you use them. A newer edition (in paper form), which reflects the actual scientific views on the composition, will often be available in the Musicology department of Utrecht University Library. You can find these newer editions through the library catalogue (see above, Searching for sheet music in Utrecht University Library.)

If you are looking for digital sheet music: here are some important starting points:

  • International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)  The IMSLP is a virtual library containing scores from the public domain (free and legally accessible). Besides, composers can deposit their works in this database if they agree with free dissemination of the compositions. 
  • WIMA (Werner Icking Music Archive)
  • Mutopiaproject
  • Muziekschatten  A selection of over 5,000 musical works from the Muziekbibliotheek van de Omroep (Music Library of the Dutch national Broadcasting Company)  which you can download and print. Play or sing the works and send your takes to the virtual studio.
  • Often fans are very involved with a particular composer. There is a Bach fan who collects (almost) anything by Bach on the site GreatJSBach . Navigating on this Korean site needs getting used to, but here you can download the complete works by Johan Sebastian Bach as PDF files. Many alto clefs and tenor clefs. For the cantatas only the piano scores are available, not the orchestral scores. Tip: click on the "W" to go to the list of works
  •  ChoralWiki is the best place to start if you are looking for  choral works     
    Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL, also ChoralWiki)  is a digital library containing scores of over 11,000 classical choral works which are freely made available under an open-source licence.
  • Important databases for music written before 1600 are:
    • The CMME Project This project offers new open access editions of important compositions from the period up to 1600, made by top scholars. You can choose from several kinds of musical notations.  
    • DIAMM Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music  
      Very large collection of musical manuscripts up to ca. 1550

 More about sheet music by separate composers can be found on the page Find out more