free folk, traditional, and historical sheet music for piano
Your Guide to Free Historical, Folk and Traditional Sheet Music for Piano on the Internet!

Free Sheet Music Guide: Patriotic, Folk and Traditional
A few recommendations for those of you looking for your traditional music roots! Free historical and patriotic music going back 200 years!

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Editor's Picks...
Below are our personal picks, the sites that get our highest recommendation for this genre. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Historic American Sheet Music
Instrumentation for: Piano, Voice, Others
Categories: Early Music, Historical, Patriotic

Catalog Size: Huge (3000+)
We are very pleased to share this great find with you! This site, a project of the Special Collecitons Library at Duke University, contains a huge library of rare sheet music and manuscripts featuring 19th and 20th century American music. You'll find over 3000 manuscripts, all published between 1850 and 1920, searchable by title, first line, composer, performer, date, publisher and more. You can view and download images from any of the manuscripts presented here free (see their statement on use and reproduction first). Some of the images from this catalog are a truly amazing look back at American Culture over the last 150 years, and the quality of the scans is very impressive. A real treasure! Updated 09/17/2001.

The Lester S. Levy Music Catalog
Instrumentation for: Piano, Voice
Categories: Early Music, Historical, Patriotic

Catalog Size: Huge (29,000+)
You'll find a large collection of historical sheet music in this varied collection from Johns Hopkins University. What makes this archival really special is the wonderful attention to detail - with hundreds of beautiful cover thumnails from sheet music dating back more than 150 years. These sheet music "sets" are organized by topics, such as "Patriotic Songs", "Minstrels", "Modern Instrumental" making it an interesting collection to browse. Updated 03/11/2002.

Noteworthy Composer Scriptorium
Instrumentation for: Piano, Strings, Orchestra and Many Others
Categories: Classical, Christmas, Traditional Folk, Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley

Catalog Size: Very Large (1000+)
Users of
Noteworthy Composer, the software music notation software, will appreciate the NCS database of compositions ranging from Classical to Christmas, Folk and Ragtime. There are over 1000 compositions here, and the database is completely searchable. Or, if you prefer, browse by genre or composer. In addition to the many *.nwc downloads, you'll find Noteworthy Tips & Tricks, an FAQ, and links to NWC forums, newsgroups and other resources. Note that Noteworthy Composer is required to view these free downloads. The scriptorium provides a link to download and install the free Noteworthy Browser Plug-In for those interested in viewing the files. Updated 03/11/2002.

Public Domain Sheet Music
Instrumentation for: Piano, Voice
Categories: Historical, Folk & Traditional
, Christmas
Catalog Size: Very Large (500+?)
A large selection of scanned public domain works copyrighted and published before 1922. The collection includes many familiar tunes
(Battle Hymn of the Republic, Good-Night Ladies, Rock-A-Bye Baby) as well as numerous popular, traditional Christmas carols. Music sheets are sorted in alphabetical order, in *.gif format and while the scans are a bit on the fuzzy side, they are readable. Updated 02/11/2002.

Ragtime: The Charles Templeton Sheet Music Collection
Instrumentation for: Piano
Categories: Ragtime, Blues, Show Tunes, Historial, Patriotic

Catalog Size: Huge (22,000+)
This digital collection of ragtime music from Mississippi State University is simply amazing. For over forty years, Mississippi businessman Charles Templeton collected a wide range of music memorabilia. Included was a collection of some 22,000 pieces of sheet music from late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The sheet music illustrates a broad spectra of music genres, from the ragtime of Scott Joplin to the dixieland of W. C. Handy to the smooth ballads of Irving Berlin to the stirring patriotic anthems of John Phillips Sousa and George M. Cohan to the early roots of big band sounds. The collection includes Rags, Blues, Foxtrots, Show Tunes, War Songs and Minstrel Music. The quality of the images are just superb considering their age. The web site is beautifully designed. Sheet music is available in PDF format. A real treasure. Added 01/03/2003.

More Free Historical Sheet Music Resources:

Acadia Early Music Archive
Instrumentation for: Piano, Voice, Violin, Lute, Cello, Flute, Early Inst.
Categories: Early Music

Catalog Size: Medium (25-50)
An impressive collection of early music from Acadia University, featuring music by Albinoni, Bartlet, Corelli, Dowland, Purcell and many others. All scores are in PostScript .eps format, and can be viewed using a PostScript viewer such as
GhostView. Updated 10/29/2001.

African-American Sheet Music: 1850-1920
Instrumentation for: Piano and Voice
Categories: Historical

Catalog Size: Huge (1000+)
This huge sheet music repository from Brown University Library contains lyrics and melody scores for well over a thousand pieces of African-American music. There's a lot of 'Civil War' period music, as well as early twentieth century selections. The database is searchable, or browseable by subject, title, or author. All sheet music images are scanned *.jpg files of varying quality. Updated 05/13/2002.

California Sheet Music Project
Instrumentation for: Piano and others...
Categories: Historical

Catalog Size: Huge (1000+)
The California Sheet Music Project is a virtual library of over 2,000 pieces of sheet music published in California between 1852 and 1900. Images of every printed page of sheet music are available in *.jpg format, including some beautiful color scans. The best way to view the catalog is to view by subject, though the catalog is also searchable. Added 04/22/2002.

Finale Showcase
Instrumentation for: Piano, Solo Instruments, Strings, Brass, Band, More...
Categories: All

Catalog Size: Huge (1000+)
Every once in a while we stumble across an absolute gem of a free sheet music site. This is one of them. This popular Finale showcase site allows Finale software users to upload their songs, arrangements, and compositions
for shared viewing, playing and transposing. The result is this huge directory filled with mostly easy sheet music arrangements for nearly all instruments in nearly every category. Classical music includes everything from Baroque, to Renaissance, Medieval and 20th century tunes. You'll find contemporary Christian music, gospel, children's music, country and rock music, rap music, show tunes, broadway, as well as soundtracks and holiday music. Instrumentation includes not only solo instruments, but arrangements for brass band, chamber, choir, handbells, and even percussion. Browse by category or instrumentation. You'll need Finale installed (which is free for download) to view and print the scores.Updated 04/22/2003.

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885
Instrumentation for: Piano and Others
Categories: Historical

Catalog Size: Huge (47,000+)
Music for the Nation, a music division of the Library of Congress, consists of over 47,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the years 1870 to 1885. Included are popular songs, piano music, sacred and secular choral music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and music for band and orchestra. The mere size of this catalog is overwhelming, but fortunately, you can perform a keyword search if you are searching for a particular work. You can also browse by author, subject, or title. Added 11/26/2001.

19th Century American Sheet Music Digitalization Project
Instrumentation for: Piano Solo, Piano & Voice, Harp, Guitar, Flute, Others
Categories: Early Music, Historical, Patriotic

Catalog Size: Huge (1000+)
Although no longer updated, this digitized catalog of historic sheet music from the University of North Carolina contains over 1000 titles. These titles are separated into volumes, each spanning different date periods and containing mixed instrumentation. It's a great colleciton of images and history for those looking to try their hand at something different. All sheet music is available via *.gif and *.jpg files, viewable and printable right from your web browser. Updated 03/24/2002.
Instrumentation for: Piano, Guitar, Voice, Strings, Winds, Big Band, Etc.
Categories: Classical, Historical, Christian
, Christmas, Original
Catalog Size: Huge is the sheet music home of Scorch software by Sibelius. The advantages of the site, when you have the free software plug-in, are many. For example, you can transpose any song instantly, change instrumentation, and actually listen to the song while you view the music with the click of the button. At the Sibelius site you'll find thousands of sheet music selections. Most of these are for sale (they provide the first page free), but within each category you'll find plenty of free sheet music titles to download. Unfortunately, Sibelius does not currently have a 'free' sheet music category to browse, meaning the only way to find the free sheet music is to browse through the 'pay' sheet music. Sibelius does provide a search tool, however, so if you're looking for a particular piece, it's quite easy to find it. Nice site, nice design. Recommended for a visit. Updated 12/03/2002.

A Traditional Music Library
Instrumentation for: Piano, Voice or Guitar (Lead Sheets for All)
Categories: Traditional
, Christmas
Catalog Size: Huge (1000+)
This huge sheet music library contains thousands of songs in a melody + chord format. The 'library' is divided into 'songbooks' containing different styles of music making it easier to find the kind of music you want. For example, there are bluegrass songbooks, songbooks containing Irish folk tunes, scottish, christmas, cowboy songs, bawdy songs, 'well known traditional tunes', and many more. Once you select a songbook, you'll get a long list of songs available in alphabetical order. Each song contains the melody, chords, and a MIDI file for the song so you can listen to how it should go. The entire library is free here but also available for purchase on CD which gives you much higher quality scores than those here. Also, don't miss the selections available in Noteworthy Composer format. Added 06/05/2001.

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