How old is Art Song Central?

Inspired by CPDL in the late 90’s, I longed to create a similar collection of public domain music for solo voice. I began collecting public domain editions, which I scanned and hosted offline, on CD-ROM, and kept in my university’s library. I later spent over a year working closely with Project Gutenberg to transcribe music books, and trying to argue for inclusion of scanned music. Later, when hosting packages became more affordable in the mid-2000’s, I finally saw a way to use WordPress to create a workable archive without a lot of coding. Art Song Central started not long after IMSLP, limited to vocal music and with a much different curation strategy. For a while, it was the best source of art song online.

It is now a very small site in a much bigger pond, but I am glad for the widely available sources of public domain music. (Though I mourn that students no longer feel the need to even visit the library or the bookstore. Word to the wise: it is better to use the best edition you can find than to save a couple bucks and get a score full of mistakes. Be careful with your editions.)

When I go to the Google page you linked to, there’s no download option! What do I do?

Most of the public domain content at Google books is restricted to users within the United States. They appear to use IP filtering to achieve this. If you are not in the US, you can probably subvert that filtering by using a proxy server within the United States. Google “free proxy server” to find a multitude of cost-free options.

I can download most of the files but I can’t access one piece. What’s wrong?

This has happened to a number of people, and so far each time I check, I have no trouble downloading the piece in question. It may be related to an incompletely loaded PDF file that is stuck in their cache. Try clearing your browser’s cache and try again. If that doesn’t work, try another browser.

Why bother creating this site? Aren’t there others just like it?

There are many other sites devoted to sharing public domain sheet music. However, none of them met the need I wanted to fill. The landscape has changed dramatically in the more than 10 years since I built this site. Probably the most useful thing here, now, is access to a curated list of songs that are generally appropriate for college age singers. The pieces were meant to be relevant, and the editions usable. They are always scanned at a resolution that will print reasonably well. And by providing additional information and resources for each song, I want to make it a worthwhile site for teachers and students to make repertoire choices.

Why did you write that a resource is “not yet” available?

The resource may, indeed, be available online. However, it may not have come to my attention yet.

However, I will not knowingly link to material which has been posted illegally, nor will I link to material I deem to be of insufficient quality. Mp3 files, in particular, should be of professional or nearly professional caliber.

Why is ____ included in your archive? Isn’t it under copyright?

All works posted here have been carefully vetted to ensure that they are posted legally in the United States, either because they are in the public domain, or have been released with a creative commons license, or are my own work.

External links are presumed to lead to material which has been legally posted. However, it is not possible for me to fully verify this. If you believe linked material has not been legally posted, please let me know so I can remove the links.

Copyright laws vary around the world, and are in a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States, check the laws of your country before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or creating derivative works based on any material found here. I make no representation concerning the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United States.

Why don’t you use better editions?

I’m using the best editions I’ve had available to me that were clearly in the Public Domain in the US. I have shied away from using other resources that were harder to prove, like some of my 19th century Peters editions.

Most of the editions used on this site are perfectly good, and it is presumed that as users leave feedback, any errors will be either noted or fixed.

Why don’t you have ____ in your archive?

This could be due to any number of reasons, not the least of which is the sheer magnitude of repertoire available. I may not have gotten to it yet, or there may be copyright issues.

Besides, in the years since I began the archive, there has been an explosion of other resources. You may be able to find a specific piece elsewhere, like IMSLP, Gallica, or Google Books. And, if you are looking for a rare piece, consider asking a librarian. They can work miracles…

Can I use music on Art Song Central for NATS auditions?

NATS still has a policy that restricts music from this site. However, they now approve things from IMSLP, and that site has copied virtually all of my scans. So, if you found it here, you can probably go find my copy there for your proof.