Sheet Music Collection

This site is a source of sheet music published in Canada before 1921, selected from the Sheet Music Collection at Library and Archives Canada.

The Sheet Music Collection includes over 20,000 patriotic and parlour songs, piano pieces, sacred music and novelty numbers, some dating back to the 1700s. Besides the expected Canadian imprints, it includes music by Canadians or about Canada published anywhere in the world. Many of the cover illustrations are of particular interest.

What is sheet music?

"Sheet music" is a term commonly used to describe unbound songs, piano pieces, etc., printed on one or more folded sheets of paper, normally measuring up to 27 cm in width and 36 cm in height. Its musical content is usually of a popular nature as opposed to the more timeless "serious" music of well-known and respected composers. In the past, because of its size and fragility, and the modest artistic aspirations of many of its composers, sheet music was often considered ephemera by music libraries and seldom formed a part of their permanent collections. In recent years, however, sheet music has become increasingly recognized as an important resource in the study of social history and popular culture, not to mention publishing and printing history.

Search help

Choose the time period you would like to search followed by the type of search field -- title, name (of composer, lyricist, performer, etc.), subject or AMICUS number -- and enter your key word(s) or AMICUS number in the search box.

You may prefer to browse all pieces listed in the database or limit your search to those for which printed music is available or those for which audio files are available.

Default searching has been set at "All Time Periods", "Any Keyword" and "Entire Database" for your convenience.

Click on the "Submit" button to begin your search.

Once you have found a piece of sheet music, you will see some or all of the following information:

  1. A description of the music. This includes names (composer, lyricist), title, publisher, description, notes and subject headings.
  2. A small colour image of the front cover. This "thumbnail" image, intended to give you a quick view of the cover, is linked to a larger image.
  3. A large colour image of the cover. This offers a detailed view, and is sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. View this image by clicking on the small image that appears with the description.
  4. A "View sheet music" icon. This links to a multi-page PDF file of the entire sheet music, sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. You need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to use PDF files. Warning: the PDF files range from 250 to 700 KB, so they may take several minutes to download. If the sheet music appears fuzzy when loaded into Reader, use the "image size" button to modify the display.
  5. An "Audio" icon. This links to the audio examples that are available for selected titles. These audio files may be digital transfers from 78-rpm discs, excerpts from commercial recordings, or new recordings made for this site. To hear the audio, you will need to download and install RealPlayer on your computer.

Printing sheet music

To view and print a complete copy, the cover and sheet music must be accessed separately. This method was used to keep file sizes reasonably small. Both the cover and sheet music have been sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper.

To print the cover:

  1. Display the large cover image in your browser.
  2. Print the cover using your browser's print function.

To print the sheet music:

  1. Follow the "View sheet music" link to load the PDF file.
  2. Print the sheet music using Adobe Acrobat Reader's print function (launch it from the "View sheet music" link). Please be aware that, depending on your computer and Internet connection, loading and display may take several minutes. If the sheet music appears fuzzy when loaded into Reader, use the "image size" button to modify the display.

Technical information

The sheet music covers were scanned in RGB colour at 300 dpi using Adobe Photoshop and an Epson 836XL flatbed scanner. After some minor adjustments, the TIFF files were used to produce two JPEG versions for the website. The large, detailed images have a width of 4 inches and a resolution of 150 dpi. These files range in size from 60 to 200 KB. The images were sized to fit on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. The small "thumbnail" images have a width of 140 pixels and a resolution of 72 dpi. The thumbnail images are intended to give a quick view of the covers, and file sizes range from 8 to 12 KB.

The sheet music was scanned in black and white at 600 dpi to optimize the sharpness of the notation and to produce the best possible print output. The tiff files were then sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper, saved in PDF format, and linked to produce multi-page PDF files. They range from 250 to 700 KB.

Hardware and software configuration

All scanning was done using two dedicated scanning workstations.

Scanning workstations
  - Windows NT Workstation 4.0 (SP 6 Pentium III @ 450 MHz, 128 MB Ram
  - CD Writer Plus 8200 series CD-ROM writer

Scanner
  - EPSON 836XL large-format colour scanner
  - See Appendix 1 for scanner specifications.

Software
  - Adobe PhotoShop 5.5
  - EPSON TWAIN Pro Interface V. 1.5A

File-naming conventions

File names will follow this template:

[CSM number] [-] [Image Number] [File Type] [.] [File Format]

CSM number

  • Use lowercase letters.
  • Use the CSM accession number exactly as listed on the sheet music folder, including leading and trailing 0's.

Image number

  • The image number is used to represent the sequence of pages contained in the sheet music.
  • Image numbering starts with 1 (for the cover) and continues on until the last page.

File type

  • There is only one file type coded as part of this project. The raw tiff files produced by the colour scan of the sheet music covers are coded as file type "c" to distinguish them from the bitonal version of the cover.

File format

  • tif - used for the raw tiff file produced by the image scan
  • jpg - used for the colour thumbnail and detail viewing files
  • pdf - used for the PDF version of the scanned image
  • ram - used for the RealAudio file
  • mp3 - used for the MP3 audio file

Examples

csm04683-1.tif - bitonal scan of cover
csm04683-1c.tif - colour scan of cover
csm04683-1.jpg - detail viewing version of cover
/thumb/csm04683-1.jpg - thumbnail version of cover

File storage

All tiff files produced by the sheet music project will be stored on CD-ROM. For retrieval purposes, an Excel spreadsheet will be used to record the location (disk number) for each piece of music.

When writing the files to the CD-ROM, size the CD volume to ensure that all files related to a particular piece are stored on the same CD-ROM. You should not split the tiff files for a single piece across multiple CD-ROMs. Once the CD-ROM has been written, record the information in the spreadsheet. All jpeg and PDF files produced by the sheet music project will be stored on the network, for later migration to the Web server.

The directory structure will be set up to separate the PDF, thumbnails and detail viewing files during the production phase. /pdf, /detail, /thumb

Scanning the Sheet Music

Prepare the scanner

  1. Clean the glass of dust and debris using compressed air.
  2. Remove any fingerprints or smudges using a glass cleaner and soft cloth. Do not spray the cleaner directly on the glass.
  3. Open Adobe PhotoShop (V5.5).

Colour scanning

  1. Only front covers will be scanned in colour.
  2. Place sheet on the scanner and open the TWAIN Pro software (File - Import - Twain32).
  3. Verify that the scanning settings are:

    Scanning Mode: 24 Bit RGB
    Resolution: 300 dpi
    Original Size: This will vary
    Output Size: 100%

  4. Scan the image into PhotoShop.
  5. In PhotoShop, make any corrections required. Refer to Appendix 1 for a listing of corrections which will be made as part of this project.
  6. Save the tiff file, using the file-naming conventions described earlier. This step is critical as it is assumed that the file has been correctly named when the Actions are run to prepare the Web versions of the file.
  7. Make sure the current image is selected.
  8. Play the "Colour Processing" Action. This will perform all of the tasks required to prepare and save the colour detail and thumbnail images to disk. Refer to Appendix 2 for a definition of all tasks associated with the "Colour Processing" Action.
  9. Close the file.

Bitonal scanning

  1. All pages, including the cover, are scanned as bitonal images.
  2. Place sheet on the scanner and open the TWAIN Pro software (File - Import - Twain32).
  3. Verify that the scanning settings are:

    Scanning Mode: Line Art
    Resolution: 600 dpi
    Original Size: This will vary
    Output Size: 100%

  4. Scan the image into PhotoShop.
  5. In PhotoShop, make any corrections required. Refer to Appendix 1 for a listing of corrections which will be made as part of this project.
  6. Save the tiff file, using the file-naming conventions described earlier. This step is critical as it is assumed that the file has been correctly named when the Actions are run to prepare the Web versions of the file.
  7. Make sure the current image is selected.
  8. Play the "Bitonal Processing" Action. This will perform all of the tasks required to prepare and save the bitonal images to disk as PDF files. Refer to Appendix 2 for listing of all tasks associated with the "Bitonal Processing" Action.
  9. Close the file.

Creating multi-page PDF files for web access

At this point, a PDF file has been created for each physical page of the sheet music piece. For Web access, the individual PDF files will be combined into a single, multi-page PDF file using Adobe Acrobat.

Naming convention

The naming convention for the multi-page PDF files will follow the pattern:

  
 

csm####-1.pdf
csm####-2.pdf
csm####-3.pdf ==> csm####.pdf
csm####-4.pdf
csm####-5.pdf

For example:

  

csm46056-1.pdf
csm46056-2.pdf
csm46056-3.pdf ==> csm46056.pdf
csm46056-4.pdf
csm46056-5.pdf

Using Adobe Acrobat Reader

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader and Explorer.
  2. In Explorer, navigate to the directory where the individual PDF files are stored.
  3. Create a new sub-directory called Webpdf, to store the multi-page PDF files.
  4. Tile the Acrobat and Explorer windows so that both are visible.
  5. Drag and drop a -1.pdf file into Acrobat. Example: csm46056-1.pdf (the parent).
  6. Drag and drop all of the other PDF files from that parent into Acrobat. Examples: csm46056-2.pdf, 46056-3.pdf, csm46056-04.pdf.
  7. Choose the default to have the additional pages added after page one. Acrobat will create a multi-page PDF file.
  8. Verify that the PDF file has the right number of pages. The number of pages must correspond to the number of individual PDF files which are listed in Explorer.
  9. In Acrobat, use the File ==> Save As option to open the file save dialog box.
  10. In the file save dialog box, navigate to the Webpdf file folder and save the file using the naming convention detailed above. You should not be overwriting any existing files. If you are prompted to overwrite an existing file, say no and verify what the problem is.
  11. Once the file has been saved, close the file and move on to the next set of PDF files.

Appendix 1: Image corrections

Background

  • Use the Eyedropper Tool to select appropriate colour to be used to replace damaged background colour. Simply select the Eyedropper Tool, position it where the desired colour is to be selected and "freeze" it by clicking on the left side button of the mouse.
  • Use the Magic Wand Tool to select damaged background area. Select the Magic Wand Tool, position it on the desired section and click on the left side button of the mouse. Wait until the section visually confirms it is ready for the next step.
  • Use the Paint Bucket Tool to replace damaged background colour with new one. Select the Paint Bucket Tool, position it over the area to be repaired and click on the left side button of the mouse to apply the change.

NOTE: Should the image contain various separations with the same background colour, it may be required to repeat the second and third step of the process to ensure the entire background area reflects the same colour.

Additional use of the Paint Brush Tool may be necessary to finalize the process at the edges and corners of the image. To maintain maximum consistency, do not select a colour with the Eyedropper Tool, use the selection initially made for the Paint Bucket Tool.

Tear marks - Option 1

  • They can often be repaired using same procedure as used to repair the background.
  • Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select a section of unmarked area and create a "patch."
  • Go to the Edit drop down menu - select Copy.
  • Go to the Edit drop down menu - select Paste.
  • Use the Move Tool to position the "patch" at the required position.

Tear marks - Option 2

  • Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select a section of unmarked area and create a "patch."
  • Go to the Edit drop down menu - select Copy.
  • Go to the Edit drop down menu - select Paste.
  • Use the Move Tool to position the "patch" at the required position.
  • Repeat if necessary for different sections, always start at the background layer.
  • Go to the Layer drop down menu - select Flatten Image.

Small tears

  • Use the Eyedropper Tool to select appropriate colour.
  • Use the Paint Brush Tool to paint over and remove tears.
  • Use the navigator Zoom In to increase cleanup accuracy.

Removal of handwritten notes - Option 1

  • Use Rectangular Marquee Tool to select a section of unmarked area and create a "patch."
  • Click on the left side button of the mouse.
  • Use the Move Tool to position the "patch" at the required position.
  • Repeat if necessary for different sections, always start at the background layer: Layer Menu - Flatten Image.

Removal of handwritten notes - Option 2

  • Use Eyedropper Tool to select appropriate colour.
  • Use Paint Brush Tool to paint over and remove undesired notes.
  • Use the navigator Zoom In to increase cleanup accuracy.

Line Art

Removal of handwritten notes

  • Use the appropriate Airbrush Tool size to clean up any undesired marks or notes.
  • Use the navigator Zoom In to increase cleanup accuracy.
  • Use of the Crop Tool can quickly remove all undesired marks around extreme edge of image.

Cropping and centring

Use of the Crop Tool can help compensate or adjust any positioning that might be required when the scanning process improperly crops part of the page and modifies the original overall layout and appearance.

  • Position the Crop Tool on the image and reposition accordingly by dragging the image to the desired centre position.
  • Use of a darker distinct background can be required to achieve proper scanning results should the scanning process fail to capture a full copy of the initial image.
  • After scanning process has been completed with a darker distinct background, use the Crop Tool to remove undesired section and properly frame original image and proceed with regular cleaning process.

Notes

  • All tools mentioned are available in the Adobe Toolbox, it can be located in the Window drop down menu, simply select Show Tools to keep it permanently on your Adobe Work Area.
  • Navigator, Layers, Paint Bucket and Paint Brush can all be located in the Window drop down menu, simply select the Show or Hide command to add or remove them from the Adobe Work Area.
  • Paint bucket settings should be set as follows:
    • Normal
    • Capacity: 100%
    • Tolerance: 32
    • Contents: foreground

Appendix 2: Image processing actions

PhotoShop Actions are used to automate the image-processing functions. Actions speed up the processing function and virtually eliminate any errors which can creep into production-based scanning practices.

Colour processing action

The colour processing action is used to change the resolution of the base tiff file, resize it and save it to disk using the appropriate location and file name to produce the detail and thumbnail images. The base tiff file must be saved using the file-naming conventions described earlier, before running the colour processing action. This is an important step, since the action assumes this step has been completed. The action performs the following tasks, in order:

  • Image Resize - change resolution from 300 dpi to 150 dpi
  • Image Resize - change image width to 4 inches
  • File Save As - /detail/file name
  • Image Resize - change resolution from 150 dpi to 72 dpi
  • Image Resize - change image width to 140 pixels
  • File Save As - /thumb/filename

Bitonal processing action

The bitonal processing action is used to change the resolution of the base tiff file, resize it and save it to disk using the appropriate location and file name to produce the PDF file. The base tiff file must be saved using the file-naming conventions described earlier, before running the bitonal processing action. This is an important step, since the action assumes this step has been completed. The action performs the following tasks, in order:

  • Image Resize - change image width to 8 inches
  • File Save As - /pdfl/filename

Appendix 3: Scanner specification, Epson 836XL

General specifications

  • Scanner Type:
    Flatbed colour image scanner
  • Subscanning Method:
    Movement of reading mirror
  • Photoelectric Device:
    Colour CCD line sensor
  • Maximum Read Area:
    12.2" x 17.2" reflected 11.4" x 16.5" transparency

Scanning specifications

  • Light Source:
    Xenon gas cold cathode fluorescent lamp
  • Optical Resolution:
    800 x 1600 dpi
  • Maximum Resolution:
    6400 x 6400 dpi (interpolated)
  • Effective Pixels:
    9760 x 13 760 (800 dpi)
  • Image DataColour:
    36 bits/pixel internal/external 24 bits/pixel external (selectable)
  • Grayscale:
    12 bits/pixel internal/external 8 bits/pixel external (selectable)
  • Line Art:
    1 bit/pixel
  • Scaling:
    50 to 200% by 1% increments
  • Brightness:
    7 levels
  • Reading Sequence:
    One-pass scanning
  • Dynamic Range:
    3.3 OD (3.4 Dmax) Focus Function: AutoFocus optics system (CCD & lens unit)
  • Interface:
    SCSI and bidirectional parallel

Scanning speed

  • (A4 vertical, 800 dpi, draft mode):
    Line Art - 7.5 msec/line (approx.)
    Grayscale - 7.5 msec/line (approx.)
    Full Colour - 10 msec/line (approx.)
  • (A4 vertical, A3 vertical, 800 dpi, draft mode):
    Line Art - 10.8 msec/line (approx.)
    Grayscale - 10.8 msec/line (approx.)
    Full Colour - 15 msec/line (approx.)

Digital halftoning

  • Bi-level: 3 modes (A,B,C)
  • Quad level: 3 modes (A,B,C)
  • Dither: 4 modes
  • User specified: 2 modes

Gamma correction

  • 5 Modes:
    Impact-dot matrix
    Colour thermal
    Ink-jet
    CRT
    User defined

Reliability

  • MCBF:
    100,000 cycles

Environmental conditions

  • Temperature (Operating):
    41°F to 95°F (5°C-35°C)
  • Humidity:
    10% to 80%, no condensation

Electrical specifications

  • Voltage: AC 100 V - 120 V
  • Frequency: 49.5 - 60.5 Hz
  • Power consumption: 60 W (approx.) 75 W maximum w/ optional unit

Physical dimensions

  • Width: 25.9" (656 mm)
  • Depth:18" (458 mm)
  • Height: 6.7" (170 mm)
  • Weight: 44 lbs. (20 kg approx.)

Copyright and source information on the materials

For copyright or source information on the material featured in this project, click on the link directly below the item.

Before reproducing material and graphical elements from Library and Archives Canada's website, please read the additional copyright information found on the Terms and Conditions page.

Acknowledgements

Library and Archives Canada would like to thank Helmut Kallmann (1922-2012) who, as a CBC music librarian in the 1950s, collected any early Canadian sheet music he could find. He also gathered relevant data from dealer catalogues, newspapers, magazines, library catalogues and private collections.

His work was continued and expanded by the Canadian Music Library Association (CMLA) as a centennial project in 1966. When Helmut Kallmann became the founding Chief of the Music Division at the National Library of Canada in 1970, his work and that of the CMLA (now the Canadian Association of Music Libraries) came with him.

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