We’ve all been there. You hear a piece of music that you love and want to play for yourself or maybe even learn an instrument to do it justice. Or perhaps you want to be able to sight-read for fun (no judgment here). Whatever the reason, finding sheet music can sometimes be difficult due to copyright issues. which is why we’ve decided to compile this list of great free sheet music sites.
There are many reasons why websites like these are useful: they’re often full of more sheets than you could ever hope to print, they’re conveniently categorized and easy enough for users with no musical experience to understand. Some sites even let you listen, watch or download the piece straight into your account! Let’s start off with some of the best free sheet music sites, and then some honorable mentions at the end.
What is Sheet Music?
Sheet music can be generally defined as any musical notation which is printed (or otherwise represented) on paper, for example for a song or piece of instrumental music. Sheet music is either “lead” (instrumental part, lyrics written above the music) or “chords” (melody with chord symbols above).
It’s important to remember that many pieces you see on sheet-music sites are not completely free and will only be available in certain parts. We’ll mention this where necessary but there are some paid options too, like Pro scores.
What makes a good sheet site?
Easy layout The best sheet sites make it simple to find what you want whether it’s by composer, category (pop, folk, etc.), instrument, or method (sight-reading, easy piano, etc.).
Lots of content Sheet music is an incredible resource for both musicians and non-musicians alike. A large collection is a very good sign to look for when deciding which site to download from. Free accounts Being able to save things in your account often means you can access them anywhere, meaning less hassle while trying to learn a difficult piece!
Easy navigation Many sites include a search function but it’s always best if they use tags or categories too. This way if the composer/work isn’t known then at least the category/instrument might be similar enough that you will find what you want quickly and easily.
What are the best free sheet music sites?
We’ve collected 13 great sites with huge quantities of sheet music.
- Plenty Music: This website has some of the most accurate and highest quality sheet music available. There are free and paid sheet music downloads, with many instruments and songs to choose from. All of the sheet music is created by Stephen Royle, who is a well-qualified secondary music teacher having worked both in Australia and the U.K, with over twenty-five years of experience! Whether you need Saxophone sheet music or sheet music for beginners, you’re sure to find it here.
- Free Sheet Music: This website has a large variety of sheets available in an equally large number of genres; everything from video game soundtracks to pop songs to movie themes can be found here. A unique feature is that they also have choral sheets for download, which you would not find on many other websites. If you are looking for something specific, I recommend using the search function by entering keywords or simply browsing through different categories until you stumble upon what you need! They do accept donations so if you like their site please consider donating!
- 8notes: Although this website does not have many features in comparison to some other sheet music websites, it makes up for that in the fact that all of their sheet music is available for free (with a few exceptions). They offer a large variety of genres and pieces, although they lack proper organization. If you’re looking through 8notes’ selection I recommend using the search function by entering keywords or simply browsing until something catches your eye!
- MusicNotes: This site has a large collection of popular songs and pieces, although unfortunately only allows users to print one page per week due to copyright restrictions, which is why I’ve included it as an honorable mention rather than a numbered entry on our list. This website is not free but offers a steep discount if users choose to subscribe for the year rather than pay month-to-month, and although I would never condone piracy I think it’s important to mention that their sheet music does occasionally show up on other websites such as e-note ( http://www.eonotebooks.com/ ), so keep an eye out!
- NinteNdo: NinteNdo is a bit different from the others listed here; while all of these sites offer traditional notation, this one has both notation and tablature available for almost every song in their database! It also includes tabs for guitar hero songs if you’re interested in learning those. NinteNdo also has a smaller library than some of the other sites, but what’s there is high quality, and given its one-of-a-kind feature makes it stand out from most websites offering free sheet music.
- MusicSheetBook : This site offers both guitar and piano notation for most of their sheets, which is incredibly useful if only one or the other is available on another website. A few pages are missing here and there, but on the whole, this site does offer a large collection of free tablature and notation for pieces ranging from classical to pop to video game music! To make things even better you can even find pieces written by your favorite composers!
- Guitar Archive: As far as I have been able to tell this website does not offer any classical notation, but all of the tablatures are in a very legible and accurate guitar tab which many sites lack. If you’ve been unable to find sheet music for your favorite songs anywhere else, I would definitely check this site out!
- Piano Sheet Music: This website offers traditional notation only, but has a massive collection covering almost any song you could think of! The downside is that their interface can be a bit confusing – there are three different search functions found on the top row which don’t always work as they should – and some pages contain audio files that do not play correctly on some browsers such as Google Chrome. Despite these flaws, you’re looking for good-quality piano sheets. This website definitely deserves a look!
- Ultimate Guitar: While this site does offer piano and guitar tablature, their sheet music section is severely lacking; I was only able to find three pieces of sheet music on the entire site, none of which were complete with both notation and tablature like some of the others listed here.
- Noteflight: This site is not strictly an archive for free sheet music – instead it allows users to create their own original works using staff paper they can type notes in! Users are given 100% free rein when writing their songs however they want, so long as they don’t violate the website’s Terms of Service. Noteflight also offers advanced tools for more serious musicians so they can transpose, edit, or collaborate on existing pieces.
- Virtual Sheet Music: This site is very similar to music notes in that it allows users to purchase digital sheet music to download at their leisure; however, it has no free sample sheets available for anyone to try before buying! It’s questionable whether or not this site should be included in a list of “free” sheet music archives like this, but I’ve decided to include them anyway since they don’t charge anything upfront and do offer some great features!
- World-of-Tabs: This is a very simple and easy-to-use site; users can either browse for pieces by popularity, title or time signature or simply enter keywords for whatever they’re looking for and let the search function do the rest! Tablature only is offered here like on Guitar Archive, but most of it appears to be well-written and accurate (although I couldn’t find any proof that it’s actually been produced by professional musicians).
- MuseScore: Finally, this website is similar to Noteflight in that it allows users to create their own original sheet music using any instrument they desire. Users are given 100% free rein here as well, so long as they don’t violate the site’s Terms of Service. The best part about MuseScore is that all of their sheets are available for download at no cost! Just like Noteflight , sharp-minded musicians may find other tools on this site such as transposing instruments, changing the time signature, or switching between notation and tablature.
Precursors to sheet music:
One of the precursors to sheet music is credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731), an Italian maker of musical instruments who was employed at the Medici court in Florence. Although he built and repaired many harpsichords, Cristofori is now best known for having invented the piano around 1700; this instrument began as few strings with hammers striking them directly but evolved over time until it became what we know today as the modern-day piano with taut strings and separate, moveable keyboard.
Sheet music developed from broad, often handwritten notes which were used as ‘cues’ in early keyboard improvisations; as such, they have arranged alphabetically like the solmization syllables that singers learn today. Likewise, written compositions from the 16th century sometimes even lacked bar lines until later composers decided to add them in and notate which notes were to be held for a specific duration.
In conclusion, there’s a great variety of sheet music available to aspiring musicians today. Many great sites have been featured in this article that offer free access to a large selection of pieces, but paid services can be just as useful especially for those users who require more advanced tools and features unavailable on most free sites. Regardless of the user’s stance, however, it’s clear that today anyone can find sheet music from virtually anywhere without much trouble at all!