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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Finding Popular Songs: Digital Collections

This guide will help you locate popular songs in printed music and on recordings.

Sheet music online

Finding the sheet music for a particular song online can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Googling the song title and "sheet music" can work, but lots of the sheet music is stored in databases that Google can't search.

Illinois's Sheet Music Collection

Digital collections of sheet music online are good sources for locating historic popular songs (usually composed prior to 1925 or so).

The Music and Performing Arts Library has an extensive collection of historic sheet music separate from the modern printed music editions found in our online library catalog.

  1. To find songs in U of I's sheet music collection, first go here
  2. Once you have read about how to search the collection, click on Search the Online Sheet Music Database
  3. Copy the call number and request the item at the Circulation desk.

Didn't find it? Search the printed indexes to the Sheet Music Collection

  • Vocal Music of the United States (M1.A2V V61 -- behind the Reference Desk)
  • Piano Music of the United States (M1.A2IP52 -- behind the Reference Desk)

These are printed indexes to the collection, organized by year of copyright; you must know the year to search these indexes.

  • Check under appropriate year in the index.
  • Songs are arranged alphabetically by title.
  • Always check at the end of a specific year listing for later additions.
  • Check in front for music with no published date.
  • Copy the call number and go to the circulation desk to request the item.


Other Digital Collections

There are many other digital collections of sheet music as well as free and commercial download sites. This list is by no means exhaustive but, if you're really interested in finding more projects like these, a little digging around within the following websites can yield good results.

Subject Guide

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Music and Performing Arts Library
1300 Music Building
1114 W. Nevada St.
Urbana, IL 61801
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Subjects: Dance, Music, Theatre