View Full Version : Sheet Music paper

01-27-2007, 09:55 PM
I want to try towards being a more progressive civilian and so am studying the things I already know and have and trying to bring them up to snuff. Which brings me to the topic of this post...I know this was about the time when parlor pianos were really coming into vogue, hence the explosion of sheet music. I've pulled up a whole list of pieces I'd like to add to my repetoire :-) lots of marches!! To learn them, I'd photocopy reprints and mark those up, but what about at actual events? And historically for that matter?

I'd imagine in the home performance would generally be with sheet music in front of the person, but were there actual books people would teach themselves out of, without a teacher? At first person/immersion events, how do you recreate this? I talked to the music librarian on duty at the Library of Congress today, and she said while some of the pieces could be copied, not all of them were in good enough condition and I would have to photograph the original instead. How would one go about making believable reproductions?

There's lots of info out there for military musicians, but could someone point me in the direction of non-military music (including but not limited to other websites, forums, and/or groups)? Any and all info/suggestions are welcomed!

01-27-2007, 11:29 PM
... while some of the pieces could be copied, not all of them were in good enough condition and I would have to photograph the original instead. How would one go about making believable reproductions?

There's lots of info out there for military musicians, but could someone point me in the direction of non-military music (including but not limited to other websites, forums, and/or groups)? Any and all info/suggestions are welcomed!
Hi, Meg!

McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland (passed it on the way to Gettysburg yesterday!) offers an undergraduate specialization in Music History, and The Catholic University of America here in DC has both an undergrad Honors program and a PhD program in Music History. Their excellent library collections are worth checking out... [Seems to me there was a workshop or seminar last summer at McDaniel on Civil War music, but I couldn't go. :( ]

Traditional or folk songs from England, Ireland, and Scotland would have been commonly known and sung, with simple accompaniment (i.e., you might not need to use any sheet music for these pieces, if you could be expected to know them 'by heart.')

This site contains historic American sheet music:


And if you get ambitious, there's always the 'copy by hand' route. I have the dip pens and music-writing nibs... got another day off work soon? ;)

01-27-2007, 11:49 PM
The much missed Ma,
I already hit the Duke website last night and got a couple of lovely pieces to whet my appetite...relatively simple waltzes to memorize. Or attempt to. The librarian I talked to actually specialized in CW music, so I plan on tracking her down more often. Catholic might land up being next weekend, and maybe McDaniel the weekend after that? I haven't come across any traditional English/Irish/Scottish folk songs as yet :(

Copy by hand could work, except I could never write trills correctly lol I still have my stave paper though! I'll ask later why you have music-writing nibs :p Erm, next day off's in mid february once I tell the boss lol pattern studying and maybe your corset this time? The joyous email has been sent hehe

01-28-2007, 05:14 AM
You may wish to Contact Mr Sullivan of Sullivan's press. He specializes in reproductions of paper items. He may be able to help you out and if I remember correctly he even sells some sheet music.

01-28-2007, 11:11 AM
In copying sheet music, if you can't photocopy it but can take pictures, you can take a high resolution digital picture and then print the pages. Because of the size of photocopy toner, if you can take a high resolution digital image, I think you would do better. Because the digital image would be in color, it would also offer other potential helps when you clean it up (read below).

Also, regardless of whether you photocopy or take a camera picture, you then have a problem common to all reproductions of period material. Usually, your copy will pick up all the dirt, change in color of the paper, bad printing, etc., and amplify them. If you want to look like you are playing period sheet music, it should look relatively new and not like a bad photocopy. To clean it up, you can scan or download your images into one of the image manipulating programs like Photoshop and clean it up. Just by adjusting the brightness and contrast, you can take care of a lot of problems. If you have a color image, you can get rid of "foxing", if any, and yellowing by color separation and some other techniques. You can get rid of small stray dots by applying another tool. If you want to see the difference, you can compare the text in the book _Paper Dolls and How to Make Them_ to the obviously photocopied reproduction. In the book mentioned above, it was scanned at 1200 dpi and the techniques mentioned were applied. It was also hand-erased for larger problems. The result is a reproduction that looks like an original.

Michael Mescher

01-28-2007, 01:37 PM
Well, how much do you want to spend, and how far do you want to go?

And yes I do offer 11 different titles for sale, but...

See, most real sheet music is printed folio style (folded like a greeting card) but, and here's the kicker, the opened sheeet is slightly larger than 11 x 17. Something in the order of 12 x 19, which is about foolscap size, traditionally. So, if you want really good copies of original sheet music, you will need to get oversize color copies done, which will cost about $7-8 per piece (based on the last time I got estimates on oversize color printing, which was about $3 per side.

Anyway, if you are willing to slightly shrink the sheet music so that it will fit on 11 x 17, then you're down to about $2.50 per piece in color, and at current Staples prices, 24 cents for black and white. (And you'd be surprised at just how much music is actually black and white, not color.)

A fabulous place to get sheet music or songs in general is, and I'm surprised that no one has mentioned it yet, the Lester S. Levy collection of Sheet Music at the Johns Hopkins University. It contains over 29,000 pieces of sheet music, most of them scanned in.

Here's the link:

It has a good search engine.

02-01-2007, 08:08 AM
Thank you everyone! I hadn't found the Levy Collection as yet, but will certainly be checking it out in the near future. Also, I think I might spend a little extra and do those oversize copies so I have the closest possible repros, if I can find an original without a whole bunch of library and other markings on it.

Mr. Sullivan, I normally wander around your lovely site, but I hadn't realized you carry sheet music?! :D Yet another thing to add to the wish list...now if only I could narrow down which ones I really wanted :rolleyes: ah, the trials of music lovers!

02-02-2007, 12:32 AM
Since where on the topic of sheet music, I have a question. I want to reenact a piano player from the period 1900-1920 and I was wondering about the format of sheet music itself. I have the intentions to photocopy my music from my book, however if their was a copy of originals that would be preferred. (Or of course I could just memorize them all)

Also curious what kind of pianos did they have during the civil war? I just like the ivories in general.

02-02-2007, 12:27 PM
Again, google the above collection and look up your time period.

02-02-2007, 01:32 PM
You need research and lots of it. If you are wanting to portray a early 20th century pianist, many millions of copies were printed which can be had for mere dollars, unless it's a piece written by a very famous composer, such as Joplin. Sheet music from that time period is/can be the size of early copies of Life Magazine. I collect 20th century sheet music, and the size varies as much as 1 to 3 inches either way.

Pianos from the CW period are inherently different from the modern piano. There are fewer keys on the early pianos, their sound is different, and they are harder to transport. There are also differences of string placement and tension.

Pianos in America were not common. Only 21 thousand pianos were manufactured in 1860. American households relied heavily upon importation from Europe and England for pianos. They were expensive to transport and were usually destroyed by the humidity onboard ship.

Mason & Hamlin started in 1854. Steinway & Sons began production in 1857 as did Story & Clark. Baldwin, although in business since 1862, only began production of pianos in 1890. A reproduction "Art Case" piano from Steinway costs $675,000.

02-03-2007, 08:09 AM
Miss O'Grady

There is a collection called The Civil War Song Book, which contains 37 CW songs. These are reproductions of the original sheet music slightly smaller than the original size but larger than 8 1/2 X11 letter size.

You could always purchase a copy and remove the modern cover and add a new period type of folio. There are many examples of piano music of the time that was purchased separately and then bound into a collection by a family creating their own piano book.

The Lester Levy, Duke and Library of Congress offer good resources for viewing and downloading piano (and period brass band) music. However it has been my experience that much of it was scanned poorly and at low resolution that enlarging them made it worthless outside of playing for one’s enjoyment. I have a small original collection and have been scanning them over a period of time.

As Mr. Mescher pointed out you can scan the music digitally and then clean it up. I’ve done this with some piano music covers (which are great sources of period lithograph art!) and then cleaned them up using Abode Photoshop. A real pain of a process but the results are amazing. To then get them printed in color at the correct size can then be expensive as pointed out by Mr. Sullivan.

For more information on piano music during the CW:

Bugle Resounding-Music and Musicians of the Civil War Era
Edited by Bruce C. Kelley and Mark A. Snell


There is a chapter on piano music (albeit CSA)
Confederates at the Keyboard: Southern Piano Music during the Civil War David B. Thompson

Also you can find information in
Singing the New Nation: How Music Shaped the Confederacy, 1861-1865


For piano tutorials of the time, there must of been some. There were teachers of music but I would think many families of the time had members who played. It was a more music literate time than today...

Good luck on your impression! Last but not least have you any recordings of the music? The LOC did an album called Our Musical Past: A Concert for Brass Band, Voice, and Piano. I'm sure you can still find it some where.

And Helen Beedle (she is quite good both playing and her impression) recorded 2 CDs
When the Galop was the Rage and 19th Century Salon & Concert Music


Jari Villanueva
PM, Federal City Brass Band

02-03-2007, 08:41 AM
And to add to the above post, there is also another book along that same vein. I used to remember the title, but the library I used to work in had both copies, and both were red. I believe the second copy had something to do with "Nineteenth Century" in the title.

02-03-2007, 08:57 AM
You might be thinking of Popular Songs of Nineteenth Century America: Complete Original Song Sheets for 64 Songs

Also published by Dover. Dover has published much music in score form and lots of piano of the diferrent time eras. A great source for period music and for a terrific price!



Jari Villanueva
PM, The Federal City Brass Band

02-03-2007, 12:29 PM
Yup, that would be it.

02-03-2007, 12:30 PM
yes, dover is quite good. I probably have 4,000 dollars worth of their books in my collection.

02-03-2007, 01:10 PM
I haven't heard any recordings as yet :( but I think that's just cause I'm still wandering through the books and finding things that I'd like to add to my list o'learning. Which is currently a page long and then some....ambition could eventually be my downfall lol

I keep seeing Dover's name popping up in various topics, does this mean their texts are reputable enough references across the board? I'd hope to draw a general conclusion so the book hording is easier.

Mr. Villaneuva ~ Thank you the kind words! Would the compiled folios have any distinct sort of cover? It looks like I have several very good starting points for this season while taking my time playing with Photoshop.

02-03-2007, 05:09 PM
Well, interestingly enough, there is an example of some period bound music on eBay
http://cgi.ebay.com/Rare-1800s-SHEET-MUSIC-Civil-War-Ballad-Opera-SONGBOOK_W0QQitemZ290079034776QQihZ019QQcategoryZ2 9223QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Dover is a great source and I've been using them since my days at Peabody.

Best of luck


02-13-2007, 12:23 AM
Dover is noted for reproducing sheet music in its original presentation, warts and all. They, the editors, feel that a true understanding of the time period is only achieved if the product is represented as it was originally.