IMSLP & WIMA to Merge

Wima IMSLP MergerAgreement has been reached between IMSLP and the Werner Icking Music Archive (WIMA) to merge, with the result that WIMA’s entire collection of files will be moved to IMSLP. These consist of some 65,000 scores and many more audio files, meaning that WIMA will end up as IMSLP’s biggest community project.

The Werner Icking Archive is in no way dying – it’s simply moving to a new home, one that will provide WIMA contributors with many advantages, such as IMSLP’s highly active community and detailed categorisation system.

For more information please see IMSLP’s official project page and WIMA’s announcement.

The merger of 65,000+ files into IMSLP will be a Herculean task. IMSLP cordially invites volunteers to help with the file transfer. Please see the forum thread if you would like to take part – your efforts would be greatly appreciated.

IMSLP Christmas Cards

IMSLP Christmas cards are now available featuring designs from the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, the earliest-ever printed polyphonic music, published by Petrucci in 1501. Choose individual letters or all six designs in a mixed pack.

Available from Puffin Point Store

£2.00 from each pack purchased is donated to IMSLP to help fund server and other costs.

IMSLP Christmas Card - Petrucci A

IMSLP Christmas Card - Petrucci HIMSLP Christmas Card - Petrucci SIMSLP Christmas Card - Petrucci YIMSLP Christmas Card - Petrucci MIMSLP Christmas Card - Petrucci E

IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards - Mixed Pack

Direct links to individual letters and to the mixed pack:

IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards – Petrucci A
IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards – Petrucci H
IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards – Petrucci S
IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards – Petrucci Y
IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards – Petrucci M
IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards – Petrucci E
IMSLP ~ Petrucci Music Library Christmas Cards – Mixed Pack


IMSLP Mug - SingleEssential for every musician… a string quartet should have four, a symphony orchestra…. but there aren’t enough left!

A small number of elegant IMSLP Anniversary Mugs, celebrating IMSLP’s fifth birthday, are available. Special offers for orders of two, three or four. More than that, drop us a line.

It’s a high quality mug decorated with a design from the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, the earliest printed polyphonic music, published by Petrucci in 1501.

For each mug purchased IMSLP receives £2 to help fund server and other costs.


IMSLP Mug - Pair

IMSLP Mugs - Trio

IMSLP Mug - Quartet

Nigerian Organ Culture

Thomas Ekundayo PhillipsThe organ is used primarily in Nigeria in churches by Christians, and secondarily in concert performances. Nigeria’s use of the pipe organ and its infusion in the musical culture is due to the influence of early missionaries who came to Nigeria, and has culminated with native born composers who have enriched the organ music literature. Nigeria-born composers have taken the use of the organ many steps further, creating works which rival their European and American colleagues.

The missionaries established churches, schools and hospitals, and introduced sacred music into these institutions. In the beginning, it was the harmonium or reed organ that was used by early missionaries. The first pipe organ in Nigeria was installed/built in Hope Waddell Institute, Calabar, Cross River State, Southern Nigeria. All the pipe organs in Nigeria are built and exported from European countries such as England, Germany and Holland. Where there are no pipe organs electronic/digital organs are used which are the imitators of the pipe organ.

Pipe organs in Nigeria vary from one manual to four manuals. Some of the builders are: Harrison and Harrison, England; Elmander of London, England; Ballinger, Germany; Pels Organ, Holland; Hushworth and Dreeper, Liverpool, England; J. W. Walker, England. The voicing of the pipes are built to accompany very large congregations: the sound must be robust enough to carry large congregations.

It is noteworthy that churches in Nigeria are always packed full and then sing lustily unlike European countries and the U.S. where the congregation may be few and sing modestly. Churches in the southern part of Nigeria have congregations not less than 300 – 4000 worshippers at a time, depending on the size of the church.

There are various Christian denominations in Nigeria, namely: Catholic, Anglican Communion, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Pentecostal churches of various kinds, and they use the pipe organ to accompany hymn singing or for church music generally.

Most of the church organists are trained organists in church music and organ playing, and the standard of singing varies from church to church depending on the organists’ and choirmasters’ capabilities. Most of the songs we sing in Nigeria are Western oriented hymns and at times we adapt to Nigeria folk tunes.

Although many churches have pipe organs, there are few organ maintenance engineers in Nigeria; therefore, some of the organs are not properly maintained.

Nigeria has produced many world acclaimed organists and composers: E. Phillips, Fela Sowande, Ayo Bankole, Sam Akpabot, Godwin Sadoh and Kayode Oni, to mention a few.

Many Nigerian institutions of higher learning have departments of music where organists are trained, and some go to European countries and the United States for training in organ playing. Organ concerts do not occur as regularly in Nigeria as in Europeans countries. Organ recitals are given during choir festivals and occasionally in concert halls in some big cities such as Lagos, Ibadan and Port Harcourt.

Segun Akinfenwa
St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Follow Segun Akinfenwa on Twitter

ImslpDroid: the IMSLP app for Android devices


ImslpDroid is a new Android application for accessing the IMSLP-Petrucci music library.

Available for free on the Android market, it allows you to browse IMSLP in several ways:

  • by composer
  • by age (from ancient era to contemporary music)
  • by composer nationality
  • by work type (sonatas, concertos…)
  • by instrumentation

Downloaded scores are stored in your phone/tablet memory and can be subsequently accessed offline.

Download ImslpDroid from the Android market here or visit

IMSLP for the Public Domain: Golan Brief Submitted

I’m happy to report that the amicus brief announced a few weeks ago, where IMSLP asks the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the restoration of certain copyrights including that of Shostakovich, has been submitted to the Supreme Court.  The entire brief is available for public viewing along with the other amicus briefs submitted, all of which can be found in the Supreme Court case file.

Currently only briefs supporting Golan have been submitted. The Government’s brief in opposition, and amicus briefs supporting the Government or neither party, will be available later in August.  The Supreme Court has set the date for oral argument to be Wednesday, October 5th, 2011.

This excellent amicus brief is the result of the hard work of a very bright group of Harvard Law School students supervised by Professor Charles Nesson.  I want to thank them on behalf of all IMSLP contributors and users for their dedication and energy, especially in the face of a very tight deadline.  Here is a list of students who participated in writing the brief:

Phillip Hill (HLS ’13) (Project Leader)
Matt Becker (HLS ’13)
Ruchi Desai (HLS ’13)
Tim Grayson (HLS ’13)
Jeff Habenicht (HLS ’13)
Laura Hill (HLS ’13)
Shira Hoffman (HLS ’13)
Wes Lewis (HLS ’13)
Nathan Lovejoy (HLS ’13)
Joey Seiler (HLS ’12)
Ellen Shapiro (HLS ’13)
David Simon (HLS LL.M. ’11)
George Tsivin (HLS ’13)
Huaou Yan (HLS ’13)

Congratulations IMSLP-EU! ~ Postcard Set: Europa by Juliane Kiefner

From the IMSLP Forums:

One year ago, on July 10, 2010, operations of the IMSLP-EU server were officially announced on these forums. Here are some actuals about the use of the IMSLP-EU server during its first year of operations:

  • Total uptime: 99.97%
  • Number of files downloaded: more than 1,700,000
  • Total data transferred: more than 3.3 TB
  • Number of files present on the server: about 1,800
  • Average number of downloads per file: about 950
  • Largest number of downloads for a single file: more than 38,000 (the full score of “Pini di Roma” by Ottorino Respighi)

To celebrate IMSLP-EU’s first anniversary, Puffin Point ([url][/url]) has introduced two new IMSLP-EU specific merchandise items:

– the IMSLP-EU t-shirt, available in two colours (white and black) at £ 9.99 (for each item purchased, £ 2.00 will fund IMSLP-EU). The t-shirt shows the IMSLP-EU “starry clef” logo designed by Juliane Kiefner;

– the IMSLP-EU postcard set, available at £ 4.99 and including five postacrds in each (for each item purchased, £ 1.00 will fund IMSLP-EU). The postcards show Princess Europa (see here and here) playing flute over the white bull that was a transformation of Zeus. Postcards are also designed by Juliane Kiefner.

All IMSLP users are welcome to order such items to Puffin Point to celebrate the IMSLP-EU anniversary and support the project.

Furthermore, IMSLP-EU wants to tangibly thank those IMSLP users who contributed with a generous donation to IMSLP-EU during its start-up year. Such donors are entitled to obtain from Puffin Point a free IMSLP-EU anniversary item, offered by IMSLP-EU, as follows:

– IMSLP-EU donors who donated an amount of 15 Euro or more are entitled to receive either a IMSLP-EU t-shirt or two IMSLP-EU postcard sets;

– IMSLP-EU donors who donated an amount between 10 and 15 Euro are entitled to receive one IMSLP-EU postcard set.

Shipping costs up to 499 grams are also covered by IMSLP-EU, so donors may take the opportunity to add their own order for further Puffin Point items, especially those supporting IMSLP and IMSLP-EU, within the same shipment paid by IMSLP-EU.

Donors will be soon contacted via email to the same address that they used for the donation to IMSLP-EU, and they will receive instructions about the way to claim their IMSLP-EU gift. Donors who have changed their email address in the meantime should contact to obtain such instructions.

A warm “thank you” also to all other donors that are not eligible for a gift. We would like that there is a gift for everyone who donated even just one Euro, but the IMSLP-EU budget cannot afford it. We anyway acknowledge that their contribution has been crucial to support IMSLP-EU in its first year of operations. Many thanks also to all the IMSLP users and the IMSLP staff for their support.


Fictional 100: A Review!


Finally the gap between fiction and music has been filled! How have fictional characters who emerged from an author’s imagination impacted the musical world? You can now find out by reading The Fictional 100, written by the brilliant author Lucy Gott. This book not only outlines the top 100 characters who have most influenced world literature, but also ranks them according to their significance in music and pop culture. For example, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare has undoubtedly impacted the musical world: think of the numerous ballets, operas, and film music that has been composed as a result of this character! Although he has never walked the earth, he certainly strides through our lives.

After months of reading this page turning book, it my absolute pleasure to write this review and recommend the book to anyone interested in pop culture, music, art, history, literature, or just wanting to enjoy a nice summer read.

New IMSLP Music Typesetting Guidelines

Grandados - Goyescas

IMSLP has developed a set of minimum quality guidelines for newly typeset works posted to IMSLP.

Why bother? There are plenty of manuscript editions on IMSLP that make for very bad reading, and there are also some scans that are difficult to read. The answer is that while IMSLP acknowledges that there are scores on the site that are not usable in rehearsal or performance, those scores may have a particular musicological value, or they may be the only score in existence for a given work. The manuscripts in particular have a very valuable place in the collection, especially autograph manuscripts from which one gleans the composer’s original intentions. First editions have similar high musicological value.

Ideally, IMSLP aims to have a combination of musicologically valuable editions, even if they are not very usable in rehearsals or performances, combined with high-quality modern typesets that make rehearsals and performances easy – in other words, we want the best of both worlds.

Any professional musician can tell many stories about their worst-nightmare rehearsals and performances with badly copied music. Unfortunately, in some cases, the lack of alternative editions makes it necessary to use bad music regardless of the problems. I will give three examples.

My first example was a near-disaster in a concert. It was a work where the composer had typeset the two separate movements in separate files. When he printed, there were two page 1s, two page 2s, etc. On the day of the concert we had a sound check, after which the second violinist left her music on a table while we took a small break. While she was out, an enthusiastic student decided to look at the music. He must have shuffled things around, because we got on stage with the second violin pages in the wrong order. Luckily, the violinist saw that something was not quite right before we started playing, but there was a lot of embarrassment trying to find the page 2 that started with the correct consecutive bar number for the page 1 from the same movement – all of this in front of the audience, and in the end there was still one page that was not in the right order. Needless to say, it was not exactly a note-perfect performance, which was really unfortunate, since I really think it was a good piece.

I can understand that the composer was working under deadline. I also know that getting a file to print with a first page number that is not “1” can be a very obscure thing to figure out how to do. I had a graduate student spend hours trying to get her multiple-file thesis to do exactly that. In the case of my concert, it ended with less than acceptable results. And although the violinist perhaps should have bound the music, there were also page turn issues that made the binding a bit impractical. She did say she will never leave music lying around again.

My first suggestion to typesetters is to keep notes on all the unusual things that you will not need often, but cannot afford to spend hours looking for each time. I have a document I keep on my laptop that is a list of exactly those things. It might take a long time to find a solution the first time, but after that I know where to go quickly if I cannot remember how to do something.

My second example also involved a contemporary work, but the sponsor would not pay for more than two rehearsals, and we had three works to perform. One of the works was rhythmically complex, in 12/8 metre. The composer had written the simplest rhythms for him to enter into the computer, but they obscured the pulses, for example minims instead of a dotted crotchet tied to a quaver. At the beginning of a bar, it is relatively easy to work out that the next note is 1/3 of the way through the beat. But further along in the bar, the problem compounds itself, and all the musicians at various places in the piece had to think “is the next note 1/3 or 2/3 of the way through the beat?”

That kind of hesitation while a musician calculates something is fatal, especially at fast tempos. Needless to say, the rehearsals and concert were torturous. At one point, the first violinist was banging her bow on the stand, complaining about an effective syncopation that was not written like one. She also kept exclaiming “Mein Gott!” The composer, who had been asked not to attend the first rehearsal, insisted on being there while we waded through all of this for the first time. And if he was unhappy with the first rehearsal, he was even more unhappy with the performance.

I do not have much sympathy. It is fairly easy to work out that three hours * two rehearsals = six hours of rehearsals / three works = two hours rehearsal per work (less if you consider that his was not the longest work on the programme).

For performing musicians, the solution we want is for you to give us visual anchors that match the aural ones. Our attitude is simple; the audience cannot tell whether we are playing a minim or a dotted crotchet tied to a quaver anyway. They hear the equivalent of four quavers no matter what we are looking at, so just give us the version that makes the music easy to put together. We do not really care if it takes you more time to put in two notes with a tie. It is your work, and your performance, so if you want it to be good, take the extra time.

I do have to mention one exception to this – sometimes music involves things that are meant to be “off the pulse” and they need to visually look like that. Many years ago, a colleague of mine decided to re-write Mozart’s G minor symphony. His attitude was that musicians do not emphasize things that are not on barlines (to start with, this is condescending), so he wanted phrases starting part way through bars changed so they started on barlines. Solution? Throw in a 2/4 or 3/4 bar, re-bar the next section, and throw in the equivalent at the end of the section to get back to where things were. (I have a musicological problem with that anyway – an upbeat is frequently not supposed to be emphasized – the main stress for many of this type of phrase would be on the barline note anyway, but musicological arguments are not the point here.)

It was an out of town concert with a rehearsal in the afternoon. There was an uproar in the rehearsal, much indignation, and a general lack of ability to read something we had been reading for many years another way. Notes we knew as upbeats were now downbeats. The only person who had a mistake-free rehearsal was the ancient, nearly-blind principal flautist who simply shut the music and played from memory. In between the rehearsal and concert, someone made the manager drive back to pick up the “real” parts. Problem solved, and as one musician put it: “Don’t mess with Mozart.” (He was not that polite.)

The moral of this story is that if a piece has been around long enough to be relatively well known, musicians will hear it they way they have been seeing it for years. Changing the barring is visually jarring, and off-putting in the extreme. (And of course, if it is a new piece and you want the first few notes of a phrase to lead into a stressed note, then they probably need to be ahead of a barline anyway.)

Actually, though, the top of my story list happened many times. It would be any number of performances of Russian music – Shostakovich and Prokofiev to name two composers, with the infamous Russian manuscript parts. Many of the fast passages had leger lines that were not lined up properly, resulting in 3rd-leger-line Es that were higher visually than 4th-leger-line Gs. Try reading that in semiquavers at 144 to the crotchet!

Since those were old hand-copied parts, one would think everything would be solved with modern computer typesetting programs. Certainly the leger lines are all neatly lined up. So why is it that some modern typesets are just as bad, if not worse, than sloppily handwritten manuscript?

The reason is that computer typesetting does not automatically solve all problems. In fact, to get the best out of your typesetting program, you still have to proofread, and do quite a number of things manually. You have to spend time learning more than the basics, and you definitely cannot rely solely on midi dumps (which recognize rhythms and notes from a sound file) or recognition software (using scanned music).

Producing good typesets

There are two aspects to producing a good typeset: one is learning what constitutes good notation, and the other is learning the finer points of whatever music notation package you use, so that you can do the more complicated typesetting.

The guidelines are posted here, along with a list of some good resources, but in order to understand the seeming pickiness of the guidelines, it might help to understand what sorts of problems badly typeset music cause for the performing musician. Inaccurate notes are by far not the only problem. Herewith (and helped by forum members who also have problems with bad typesets) my litany:

  • The general size of staves and noteheads needs to be large enough to read easily, but not so large as to waste space, thereby adding to the page turn problems. Harp players cannot bend very far forward to read tiny notes, but if they bring the stand close, they will bang their left hand on it when they reach for low notes.
  • Any elements (accidentals, dynamics, etc.) that collide with each other on the page cause misreading. If one item obscures another, neither can be read quickly or accurately.
  • Staves that are not adequately spaced can cause collisions of high and low notes, or dynamics, between the staves. Again, if one item obscures another, neither can be read quickly or accurately. Spacing that is too wide can waste space and add page turn problems.
  • Rhythms that are not visually spaced proportionally to those rhythms can cause musicians to misread. The faster the tempo, the more likely they will make mistakes.
  • Parts without adequate rests at the page turns can cause missed entries, especially for instruments that are “one-on-a-part” (for example, woodwinds, brass, percussion, harp). Even string players might have page turns where it is not a good idea to lose half the section sound because players on the inner desks have stopped playing to turn the page.
  • Badly planned repeats cause extra page turns, especially backward page turns.
  • Musicians do know that accidentals revert to the key signature after the bar line, but there is a reason for courtesy accidentals – we frequently have a fraction of a second to make a decision, and hesitating to double-check something causes stumbles and mistakes. If you want an accurate reading, give us the courtesy accidentals. Typesetting programs do not automatically do this, especially if the music is entered by playing it in. These must be added manually.
  • Using incorrect symbols can cause hesitation, for example using tildes (“~ ~ ~ ~ ~”) instead of the traditional trill squiggle. And the midi-dump equivalent of a trill is a measured set of fast notes that not only is not really a trill, it takes up way too much space on the page and makes it difficult to see at a glance how long the trill is.
  • Repetitive patterns – it is easy to get lost in these if the typesetter has not used the correct symbols to signify the repetitions, or indicated how many times the pattern repeats. If your players are thinking “was that the 7th or 8th repetition?” you are asking for the next phrase to be in the wrong place.
  • Similar to the previous item, leaving many bars of rest as individual bars wastes paper, gives us bad page turns, and it is also very easy to get lost in them. If a musician gets lost in these, the next entry will be wrong. Group multiple-bar rests in the traditional way – according to phrases, e.g. –4– –8– –12–, where each of those groups is an audible phrase.
  • Musicians with many bars rest need adequate cues toward the end of the rests, or they cannot find their entry.
  • Badly chosen cues can cause missed entries. I was once given a viola cue in a loud passage. I have no idea how the copyist thought I would hear it!
  • Unlabelled cues can also cause missed entries.
  • Elements that should not be full size (cues and grace notes or other ornaments) can cause misreading if they are full size. A musician might actually play a cue if it is the same size as the notes he is supposed to play, and grace notes that are too large cause the base rhythm of the bar to look like it has too many beats.
  • Unclear articulations can cause tripping. Even if they do not cause an actual misreading of notes, you still want musicians to do your choice of articulation, not theirs. Slurs that start or stop in between notes are the biggest culprit here. Be clear as to where a slur starts and stops.
  • Clef changes that are in the middle of a run, or some other awkward place, can cause wrong notes. However, it can be impossible to write a very long run without either leger lines or a clef change, and many performing musicians would choose leger lines over a clef change in this case. If you absolutely have to change clef in the middle of a passage, at least do not put it in front of a note with an accidental. Choose a diatonic note that is at the beginning of a beat, and preferably at an octave or some other landmark place within the run.
  • With all clef changes, check the part extraction, because in some cases, the computer program puts the part entirely in the first clef you chose, with no changes afterward. Proofreading is essential, and you might have to change clefs manually in the parts.
  • Pages that are not numbered can cause confusion if they are loose and unbound. If you are saving separate movements as separate files, make sure movement 2 is consecutively numbered after the last page number of movement 1, otherwise you will have multiple page 1s, page 2s, etc.
  • Elements from a score that are printed once at the top of the score should, but do not always, come through to individual parts in an automated part extraction. This and many other things can be checked by simple proofreading, but you can imagine what happens in rehearsal when some parts have a tempo change and others do not . . .
  • From time to time, we have all had “with” indications without the “without” indications. For example, violinists who are still using mutes when everyone else has changed to fortissimo, or seeing that they were supposed to take a mute off that they never had on in the first place. The same applies to pianists who cannot work out where the composer intended to stop the una corda pedal. Brass and woodwind players really do not like keeping their necks in strained positions longer than absolutely necessary for a schalltrichter auf passage. The same applies to solo or soli passages that need to go back to tutti. All of these indications need to be clearly marked. Conductors do not like wasting rehearsal time trying to figure out what you intended.
  • None of the following instruments – horn, trumpet, or instruments in the clarinet and saxophone families – read their parts in concert pitch, and while there are some historical parts for clarinet, horn, and trumpet in C, those musicians would have been playing instruments pitched in C, not modern instruments pitched in B-flat, F, or E-flat. Traditionally, a score has these instruments written in the pitch they read, not in concert pitch, and professionally trained conductors know how to read them. Some modern scores put everything in concert pitch, which helps conductors who have not had this training. However, regardless of which system your score uses, the part extraction needs to be in the pitch those instruments read. It is never acceptable to make a saxophonist read concert pitch, and you are asking for bucketfuls of note mistakes if you do not transpose the part for him. The common transpositions are B-flat or A for clarinet (though A clarinet is never used in wind band settings), B-flat for trumpet, and F for horn. Use them.
  • Computer automated transpositions can cause misreading. We all know that everyone should be able to read 7 sharps, but if there is less likelihood of mistakes with 5 flats, then use that instead. Concert B major, for a clarinetist playing a B-flat instrument should be D-flat major, not C-sharp major. This has to be done manually, by making the key signature on that line independent, and manually changing the key to D-flat.
  • Parts with no bar numbers or rehearsal numbers/letters are very difficult to rehearse from, and this problem expands radically with the length of the piece – who wants to count to bar 200?
  • (This is a personal bugbear that not everyone might agree with.) It became the fashion at one point to number bars in increments of 10, but phrases rarely start every 10 bars, and this type of numbering is a nuisance when there is a multi-bar rest. As a performing musician, I would rather see a barline where the phrase starts, because it gives me a visual landmark on the page for an aural landmark that is easy to hear. Take the trouble to go through the score and mark where the multi-bar rests should divide, rather than letting the computer do an arbitrary division based on a number that has never been a common phrase length.

If you have professional musicians playing your music, you need to give them the chance to give you a professional product in a minimum amount of time. Rehearsals are usually in short supply anyway, and all of us (this should include you) would prefer to spend most of this time on interpretation. If you have amateurs playing your music, bear in mind that they deal with bad parts less well than professionals do. They, if anything, need even better parts.

The fact is that if music is extremely complex – but accurate, clear, large enough, adequately spaced, with proportional rhythmic spacing, good page turns, adequate cues, and all of the rest of the above list, musicians can sightread fairly accurately, which means less rehearsal time wasted on correcting and adding things to the part that should have been there to start with.

This actually happens all the time in some areas of the industry. Part of my training was in Los Angeles, where there is a well-established sound track recording industry. They work on tight deadlines and no rehearsal time. What is put on the stand in any session has to be put down on the track in that session. Musicians will not get a chance to come back the next day after they have practiced the part. They have to be good readers, but the composers and copyists have to provide clear parts. And they do – in fact long before Finale and Sibelius they produced clear and accurate parts by hand. On top of that, many of the sound tracks are incredibly complex pieces of orchestration (think Star Wars, for one).

It is simple – give me what I want to see and I will give you what you want to hear.

Becky L. Steltzner
Head of Woodwind & Chamber Music
SA College of Music
University of Cape Town