Tag Archives: Music Library

IMSLP’s 5 Year Anniversary

Five years ago today, there was a tiny blip in the cosmos of the Internet as an awkwardly-named website made its first appearance.  It had no logo, and a main page befitting its humble birth.

This website is now five years old, and hosts one of the largest collections of music scores in the world.  It has more than 85,000 scores written by 4,800 composers, and a fledgling recording collection consisting of more than 1,700 recordings.  All this was made possible by the countless hours of contributions by musicians and music enthusiasts.

As a musician myself, I would like to thank these contributors.

I will not dwell at length here.  Most of the recent updates on the status of the project can be found in my New Years post.  I would, however, like to mention a few recent developments:

  • I first want to congratulate the MuseScore team on the successful recent release of MuseScore 1.0, possibly the best open source music typesetting software ever written.  IMSLP may add support for MuseScore files in the near future.

  • I also want to announce the availability of IMSLP anniversary merchandise from the Puffin Point store.  Currently there is only the mug, but the store can certainly add products if there is interest.

  • And last but not least, a shout-out to IMSLP contributor Philidor and his friend for creating the beautiful anniversary banner you see at the top of this page.

Happy birthday, IMSLP!

Edward W. Guo
Project Leader, IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library

A Greeting and Request for Comments

Hi everyone!  I’m Edward Guo, otherwise known as Feldmahler on the library wiki.  Since I’m the project leader and lead programmer for IMSLP, I will be blogging here about new IMSLP features and other project-related news.  I love comments of all sorts, so please feel free to praise and/or complain about IMSLP in the comments section of my posts!

But before I start blogging about IMSLP features, I’d like to extend an invitation to all of you to tell us any ideas you have about improving IMSLP.  I am perennially open to suggestions of all sorts, so fire away any time!  You can either post in the comments section of this blog post, or open a new thread in the “Feature Requests” section of the forums.  Particularly, IMSLP is looking for the following:

  • New features or feature improvements on any aspect of the wiki
  • Design ideas/mockups to account for new features and improve the overall feel of the site, especially for the more prominent pages (e.g. the main page), or the templates used on the work pages (e.g. for the file entries themselves).  The focus here I think is twofold: simplicity and intuitiveness.  Mediawiki-style is markup preferred but not necessary.
  • A new (and simpler) logo!

But even if your idea does not fall into one of these categories please do feel free to post it!  These categories are just intended as starting points for thinking about improving IMSLP.

And as some contributors already know, I adopt a “try it out” stance to pretty much any idea that a contributor comes up with, unless there is a clear reason otherwise (in which case one of the IMSLP administrators will tell you).  You are encouraged to tell us about your ideas, and also greatly encouraged to try the idea out yourself.  There are only two exceptions to this rule: (1) if you are very new to IMSLP, and (2) if the change is a hard to reverse or very big change, in which case you should discuss the change with us on the forums before going ahead with it.

Remember: IMSLP is not a website; it is a community of music lovers.  IMSLP needs you to make it a wonderful and lasting resource!

Music Librarians & Magic Super-Copyright


Most music librarians are saints: knowledgeable, hard-working, not paid enough.

But a few regard their employer's sheet music collection – much of which may be public domain – as their private property, and view those seeking to copy it as dangerous subversives who should be blacklisted from libraries across the known universe.

The notion that all printed music is protected by magic super-copyright may be a reaction to unlawful photocopying of music by students in the past. But that's no excuse for a professional librarian, trained in copyright law, to restrict the lawful copying of public domain music.
A similar point can be made about some music examination boards who enforce a 'no playing from photocopies without written permission from the publisher' rule upon examinees.

If the music is copied from a public domain source there is no good reason why it can't be used in an examination, with or without the publisher's consent. It's absurd to insist that an impecunious student should spend money on public domain sheet music which is available for free, legal download.

Far better for the money to be spent on copyrighted music so a portion of it goes to a living composer, and to a publishing house brave enough to publish his or her music, as opposed to one which churns out public domain reprints.

If you've had experience of 'music copying paranoia' share it here! Over-protective librarians, and others, can be referred to this post and encouraged to enforce actual copyright law as opposed to a fantasy which seems designed to stuff money into music publishers' pockets.