Online music sources

So your friend from out of town is dropping in on your 6-person consort this week, and you need to quickly find some 7-part music? Fear not! Online resources make this possible.

Our first stop is IMSLP The acronym stands for the International Music Score Library Project, and their byline is "Sharing the world's
Public Domain music." Editors, arrangers, and composers upload music to this website, which then makes it available, free of charge, for download as a printable .pdf file. However, good citizens of the internet may choose to become a member of IMSLP for an annual fee of $22/year. This supports the site and also gives you streaming access to an archive of recorded performances on the Naxos music label. If you're not a member, when you click a download link, you'll see a pitch for membership and a short timer. When the timer is done, you'll get a link to continue to the download.
Although you can go to the IMSLP home page and use their various search tools (start with "Scores" in the menu bar at the very top of the page, which has sub-menus for Composer, Instrumentation, etc.), you can often accomplish your mission faster with a Google search. For example, to find music for 7 recorders, you can start with your browser's search bar and type something like " imslp for 7 recorders." Scan through the search results and you'll see many results directing to the IMSLP site. Because this is not a common grouping, some of the search results will bring you to IMSLP pages with no music listed (there's currently no music uploaded "for 7 recorders, arranged," or "for 7 recorders, continuo , arranged") but in my search results, the second listing leads to the IMSLP page, "for 7 recorders," with links to two pieces: a handwritten score for a Marcello sonata scored for a combination of instruments, including recorders and strings (eh - less useful), and a piece titled Ostinato a 7 by Victor Eijkhout, with a beautiful score and individual parts.
The fourth result in my Google search is a link to the well-known Schmeltzer Sonata á 7 Flauti. Clicking on this link brings you to the IMSLP page, "7 recorders, continuo," with a single listing - the Schmeltzer Sonata. Clicking on the link for the sonata opens a page where you will see that there are two uploaded editions of this piece: the first is a scan of an old handwritten edition, but the second is a modern typeset edition by Ulrich Alpers, including a score and parts. Bingo!
As recorder players, we're generally happy to borrow vocal music, too, and you'd be right in suspecting that there's a larger group of music written for 7 singers. So, our second stop is CPDL, the Choral Public Domain Library. CPDL also has a full-featured internal search system (click on the link for "Multi-category Search"), but a Google search for " cpdl 7 part choral music" will get you directly to the CPDL page, "Category: 7-part Choral Music," from which you may choose from among 306 pieces of music (!), by specific voicing or title/composer.
One minor hitch: choral music is usually presented in score format, and with 7 voices, there are going to be lots of page turns - no problem for singers, but difficult for instrumentalists. This brings us to our third stop: Partifi /. Partifi is an online tool which is an wonderful replacement for the painful process of printing a score, cutting it into strips, and pasting the pieces to create individual parts. To use Partifi, you must have a .pdf score - which is perfect, because scores that you download from IMSLP or CPDL will be in this format. There's no need to print or scan them prior to using Partifi - just remember where you saved the downloaded file! In fact, if you need to separate a score that you've found on IMSLP, you don't even have to download it: while in IMSLP, just hover over the "gear" icon at the right edge of the listing, and click on "Extract Parts." This will send the score to Partifi and open it, ready for editing.

I strongly suggest that you start with the "Help" menu on Partifi, and watch the short video tutorials on how to use the website. It's very easy, but the videos will help you to fully use the features. Once you understand the process, you can:
  • upload your .pdf file,
  • use the online tools to separate the part lines,
  • name the voices (Soprano 1, Soprano 2, etc.), and
  • add measure numbers at the beginning of each line.
You can even combine parts (print both soprano lines on the same part, for instance), and adjust spacing on the page. Then, download and print your parts and you're ready to go. The whole process takes a few minutes, depending on the length of the piece - maybe 10 or 20 minutes from start to finish, once you're familiar with the process.
Just remember that Partifi really is an exact substitute for physical cut-and-paste. Partifi doesn't do anything to make your original score prettier, or clearer. If the barlines in your score go from the top of the system to the bottom, through all the parts, you'll see these extend above and below the part line, just as if you had cut them with a scissors. But in addition to the convenience of doing this digitally rather than physically, Partifi gives you the ability to have some text appear in all parts (tempo markings, rehearsal letters, etc.), as long as these markings don't overlap with one of the lines of music. And, if you login to Partifi using your Facebook login, you can access your library of previously Partifi-ed scores. Otherwise, be sure to download and save them on your computer, or bookmark the online access link.
Music problem solved - have fun playing!

- Ruth Seib, ARS Board member, Sarasota FL/Oakland MD

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