A look at Free Art License, as well as various websites that legally offer free piano sheet music of anime, classical, video game, pop, and rock songs.
Numerous websites offer free sheet music for piano. However, tracking down a suitable arrangement legally sometimes requires a bit of digging.
Free sheet music that is legal falls under the Free Art License, which "grants the right to freely copy, distribute, and transform creative works without infringing the author's rights." Works in the public domain, as well as arrangements and transcriptions posted by the arranger to be downloaded for free fall under this category.
Once the intellectual property rights on a work have expired, they become part of the public domain. These works are copyright-free and can be printed, copied, distributed, and modified.
An arrangement is a music score of a piece that a musician has done by hand or with music notation software. It includes his or her own editorial markings or it is set to a style or instrumentation that differs from the original version.
A transcription is not the same as a reproduction. To make a transcription, a musician picks out the melody and harmonies of a song by ear and then writes out the notation by hand or with the aid of music notation software.
The following are some websites that offer free printable piano sheet music:
Free Anime Sheet Music and Video Game Music Online
Josh's Anime Sheet Music Collection boasts an extensive collection of anime and video game music transcriptions and links to other websites with fan transcriptions. Theme songs from popular anime such as Bleach, Naruto, and K-On! are available. Difficulty level ranges from intermediate to advanced.
Ichigos has one of the largest collections online of free video game and anime sheet music. Theme songs from popular anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Melancholy of Harurhi Suzumiya, and Clannad, as well as music from popular video games such as The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy are available.The difficulty level of the sheet music varies from low intermediate to upper intermediate.
Free Classical Sheet Music On the Internet
Music-Scores contains over 500 pieces of classical sheet music. There are arrangements for piano, violin, woodwinds, and more. The site features music by the greats like Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, and Mozart. The level of difficulty is listed with each piece. Members have access to more music scores than non-members.
The Sheet Music Archive has over 5000 works that are in the public domain. Classical sheet music by famous composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and Chopin are included in this library. Visitors can download up to two works a day for free. Subscribers have unlimited downloads.
The International Music Score Library Project (IMSP), otherwise known as the Petrucci Music Library, contains an extensive collection of public domain music. Sheet music, as well as recordings are available. It contains over 234, 000 scores and 23, 000 recordings.
Websites With Free Piano Sheet Music in a Variety of Styles
Easy Sheet Music houses around 500 songs for piano. Music is listed in five categories: Music from Around the World, Popular Classics, Boogie & Blues, Opera Classics, and Mission - Not That Difficult. Non-members are limited to three free downloads per day, while subscribers get unlimited downloads.
Free Piano Music! contains approximately 100 pieces of classical, popular, and Christmas songs. The pieces are ordered by level of difficulty, from beginner to intermediate. Midi files are also available for educational purposes.
Sibelius Music - Score Exchange has a wide range of printable sheet music, including classical, Christian, Christmas, historical, jazz, pop/rock, educational, and original works. The site contains music for piano, voice, guitar, strings, and ensembles. Although there are many free music titles, there are some available for purchase.
Things to Watch Out for When Downloading Free Printable Piano Sheet Music
There are three things to watch out for when searching for free sheet music online: illegal scans of copyrighted scores, poor transcriptions, or editions:
A fan making his or her own transcription or arrangement is legal. However, scanning a copyrighted work is illegal. Musicians should inspect the score carefully. Fuzzy quality is a sign of photocopying or scanning. A transcription is genuine when "Transcribed by" or "Arranged by" is part of the text.
Some music was originally written for an ensemble to be performed by a computer. An anime theme song that requires the right hand to play a chord that spans three octaves is just not "piano friendly." The musician must modify the transcription to avoid musician injury. Music students should consult with their music teacher if they require assistance.
With regards to classical music, it is wise to consult and compare several editions as edition quality varies. Students taking a piano exam should use an edition that is approved by the music conservatory conducting the piano examination.
Downloading an arrangement, transcription, or copyright-free work are three ways to legally obtain free printable piano sheet music. Good transcribers and arrangers are able to make their arrangement "piano friendly." Fans who wish to download free piano sheet music should be cognizant of the difficulty level of the arrangement and look for signs that a transcription is legitimate.
Originally published on Suite101.com on June 16, 2010. Updated April 16, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.