Where to find free sheet music online

Sheet music for "Stormclouds"I was looking for online resources recently where I could make my sheet music freely available. I thought it would be a good way to spread word about my latest solo piano album, Butter Avenue. Whether you’re a novice or an accomplished player, there are a few good sites that offer free scores. I’ve provided my impressions of the more prominent sites below, as well as those you might want to avoid. My solo piano pieces are available at my favorite site, free-scores.com. “Stormclouds” is the most popular download at the moment. The image on the left is the first page of the piano score. It requires an intermediate skill level to play, but some of my pieces are written in an easy style.

Good Sheet Music Sites

Free-Scores is my favorite free resource. It offers scores in all styles, is user friendly, has a strong search feature, and enables video and MP3 links. It also provides an analytics tool so you can track downloads of your scores.

IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library offers a large repository of scores—385,000 and 15,000 composers as of March 2017, primarily oriented toward classical and jazz. IMSLP stands for International Music Score Library Project. Composers can contribute their own scores under a Creative Commons license. On the downside, the site is difficult to navigate.

MuseScore is a community for sharing sheet music under a Creative Commons license. Although the site is attractively organized, currently you submit and download music in a special MuseScore notation software file format. This is a pain if you’ve already used another program to notate the music, even though MuseScore reads MIDI files. I tried the beta version that converts a PDF to a MuseScore file, but it was glitchy. The site could also use a better search feature.

8notes offers a good selection, including recent pop songs. An in-house team chooses what music to make available and handles the arrangements. If you can read chord charts and riffs, you can get the source for free, but you’ll have to pay for full scores.

The Mutopia Project is a decent source mainly for classical music that is in the public domain–2,070 pieces as of April 2017. You can contribute your own scores, but must submit via email or GitHub if you don’t use use special LilyPad notation software, which I find less convenient than sites that give you more direct control.

MusicNotes is an e-commerce sheet music retailer and publisher, so they have both free scores and scores for purchase. They claim to be the world leader in downloadable sheet music, with over 300,000 titles. As such, MusicNotes controls what they publish. This is a well-organized site, but clearly they’re in the business to make money.

Sheeto is structured as an exchange service. You can access a composition by contacting the member and offering to exchange something of your own in return. Interesting concept, but less useful if you’re a professional.

ChoralWiki specializes in choral and vocal scores. You can submit your own compositions.

Sites You Might Want to Skip

Skip the following sites, which are not worth the trouble unless you feel adventurous:

  • Freesheetmusic.net: out of date and skimpy–looks like something from the 2000s
  • Easysheetmusic.com: very small selection
  • Virtualsheetmusic.com: good site for classical music if you want to pay the membership fee
  • Pianotte.szm.com: specializes in piano music, but I don’t trust the download feature

For other kinds of online music resources, see the list on About Music and This Site.

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