Garland of Song
August 3, 2004 9:45 PM   Subscribe

The Scriptorium's American Sheet Music. North Carolina's Duke University maintains a wonderful, sprawling archive of ephemera, as you, chers linkeurs, know well. But perhaps you didn't know of the vast collection of American sheet music, most attractively explored via these cover galleries (viz.), that awaits within.
posted by mwhybark (6 comments total)
(Caveat: the collection is probably based on accessions of wealthy Southern persons from the periods represented by the music, and reflects attitudes as one might well expect. For heaven's sake, these people listened to the banjo!)

a tip o' ye hat to Manuel.
posted by mwhybark at 9:49 PM on August 3, 2004

This is very good. Thanks. Should have fun digging through this one.
posted by herc at 10:14 PM on August 3, 2004

A piano players dream, but a little tough for guitarists not used to music without chord information. Some of them do have chord diagrams but for uke or banjo (which was the rhythm instrument of the day, to be replaced by the guitar in the 30's), though.
posted by tommasz at 8:10 AM on August 4, 2004

Addendum: there are a few with chords, use the search function to find them.
posted by tommasz at 8:24 AM on August 4, 2004

I found a few classical pieces and selections from librettos...As a pianist, it is invaluable to be directed to such links. Back in the day before universities and foundations posted librettos/sheet music online, most collections felt esoteric, shrouded, and unobtainable. It became so expensive and time-consuming to find vendors selling composer compilations. Too quickly I would get stuck in a musical abyss, and play the same pieces over and over, simply because it was easier and cheaper than finding new works and/or vendors. This makes it very viable. Thank you so much.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:14 AM on August 4, 2004

Note to self : stop commenting on Metafilter and post antique sheet music collection on eBay.

There was a time in America, before TV, when people would gather around in the evening to sing and play popular tunes on piano.

That sounds nice to me. When I walk my dog, at night along my street what comes from the houses is not song - music from any source at all is rare - but, instead, a creepy bluish miasma of TV and computer screen light and, sometimes, a rapidly changing flashing multi-hued light suggestive of computer games.

Often, I can guess the number of occupants in a house by the number of individual rooms lit from within only from CRT and LED light, as each occupant, probably alone as well, attends to their habit of choice.

The ghost of an earlier, more social time can be found at my local dump in the form of busted up antique pianos - many of which were clearly in excellent playable condition prior to the damage inflicted with a sledge-hammer in busting their cast iron sound-boards up into manageably light pieces - and also in local memories as well.

I have been told that, As late as the 1950's or 1960's, the local farming clan which occupied most of the houses on my street for nearly a mile was holding square dances in the smallish rooms of my house.

No more.
posted by troutfishing at 9:35 AM on August 4, 2004

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