I’ve had this question come up often - “Where do you find good sheet music?”. My short answer: most of the time there are some great free legitimate sources for sheet music and in other cases, it’s best to support a publisher (or artist) with purchasing the right thing. It’s all in knowing where to look. That is the subject of this post.
There are so many large retail sources online that have some basic selections (Amazon is the best example of this) and for some that’s a good place to start. For those looking for something little more specialized here’s a list of resources for those who are exploring the vast sea of sheet music available online. With these resources can find everything from ABBA and Bach to Wagner and ZZ Top.
IMSLP (free) - http://imslp.org/ - 125,085 works and growing. This library is host to free copies of public domain music. Most classical music from major composers (who were published before 1923) are available here. They might not be the most authoritative editions but, they are at least good perusal copies of major works. There is also a companion site for Choral Music - http://www3.cpdl.org/
Musicnotes - https://www.musicnotes.com/ - This is a great library of music that spans may genres (pop, jazz, broadway, country) and also has the benefit of a companion app that is available for most operating systems and boasts some amazing features (change keys, annotate). I use this resource on a daily basis for a great deal of my students who are looking at popular music styles. The opportunity to purchase and instantly print music is invaluable!
J.W. Pepper - https://www.jwpepper.com - Much like Musicnotes, J.W. Pepper has some of it’s offerings available for instant print. They also have a great deal of instrumental music and really their major contribution to the market is in pieces for ensembles.
Musescore (free) - https://musescore.org/ - This is one of the few community/author driven sites out there. Be warned - the level of professional engraving might not be exactly up to standards of the major publishing houses. So, there might be mistakes in the music. The thing that this site has going for it is that there are constantly new versions and new editions being added. It also offers a companion music engraving software that is free. As engraving software goes, you get what you pay for. It does not have the same abilities as Finale or Sibelius outside of the basics. Definitely a good tool for someone who is starting out in composing. Maybe there might be another post all about that….
Personally, I’m an advocate for my friendly local music shop. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, I suggest visiting one of these places sometime and just explore. In the Boston area I suggest these two establishments:
Music Espresso Inc. - 295 Huntington Ave Suite 212 - Boston - MA - 02115 - http://www.musicespresso.com/
Spectrum Music - 1844B Massachusetts Avenue - Lexington, MA 02420 - http://www.spectrum-music.com/
Full disclosure: Stage Music Center does not have any affiliation with these entities, please consume at your own risk/reward.