Best way to store sheet music?

Best way to store sheet music?

I have loads of it, mostly in the form of books of tunes.

At present I keep the tune books in a unibox, upright & in alphabetical order based on the most prominent word in the title (E for Early Music), or the name of the editor (F for Iain Fraser). The unibox sits on my bedroom floor, and is already too full. What to do? I don’t want to get out of bed each morning and stub my toe on the burgeoning boxes. :)

My system is handy enough, but not very elegant.
Keeping my collection on a shelf would be tidier but not very convenient for sorting through. Ditto in the piano stool, or a drawer - although as it happens, I also have a drawer full of ‘outsize books’ which contain tunes.

If you also seem to amass tune-books - which solution do you favour?

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

Thanks for the link, @Alpinerabbit.
It occurs to me after looking at it that a filing cabinet might do - but not very pretty, and again rather expensive.

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

I’ve started using the Forescore app on my tablet. You take a picture of the music or you download a PDF, bring it into the app, and voila! No need for sheet music any more. The app is only about $10, and it’s really easy to use (though some of the functions, such as the links that let you move between repeats or to Codas, etc., are a bit confusing at first).

Being an archivist at heart who learned the hard way not to trust technology, I admit that I haven’t gotten rid of all my sheet music. I keep backup hard copies in notebooks arranged by the instrument for which the music is intended. Whistle tunes I arrange by sets and in the order we usually play them. Harp tunes I arrange by key.

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

Shelves for me, with the books in magazine files. I have a general categorisation system which I use in various places, my computer, my shelves, my filing cabinets, etc. Which is

01 Scottish • 02 Irish • 03 American • 04 English
05 Canadian • 06 Classical • 07 Musicals:Films
08 Pop:Rock • 10 Misc • 11 World
13 Lessons/Theory • 14 Instruments

These can be subdivided; e.g. under "10 Misc" I have 02 Christmas • 03 Children etc, or
03 American can have Old Time, Bluegrass, Ragtime, etc.

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

You can organise your sheet music however you like - by genre, instrument, country of origin,composer, collector, editor etc. - whatever makes it easiest for you to find the bit you want, but it’s always going to take up the same amount of space. Unlike Debbie van Tuyll, I am not up to date on score-reading technology, but I agree that the sensible solution would seem to be digitising your collection. Like Debbie, I would be loath to actually get rid of the source material, but at least you would no longer need to store it in such a way as to make it easily accessible, e.g. packed away in boxes in the loft - and any newly acquired material could be immediately digitised and the original filed away out of sight. Even just photographing your collection and storing it in pdf format, without any specialist apps, would save a lot of bookshelf space.

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

For me it’s simply alphabetical. With all the alternative titles etc. that’s a bit of a problem. I use Numbers on my Mac to list alternative titles. authors, players, keys, tune type instrument, and even two columns dedicated to incipits (the first 2 bars in ABC). Seems like a lot of work at first glance but entering all that only takes a minute if I do it for each tune, as I learn them. By using the sorting function I can easily find, for example, a jig in A, played by Harry Bradley, or, banjo reels in D. Finding the incipit easily is a great help when I can’t remember how a tune starts! All that and I need store only one copy!

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

If it’s books I use they should be on a shelf. For books with less regular use (but I want to keep them) I think your unibox works. It seems like you might have lots. If so perhaps the first step is sorting the collection; books most likely to be used on a regular basis, books which you want to be able to find easily though less often & books you want to keep in an organised manner but these can be stored away a little deeper than the first two categories.

I would begin with deliberate sorting and eliminate what I don’t need.

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Re: Best way to store sheet music?

…And of course, digitising your sheet music collection means you can easily print out a page at a time, to save you lugging all 200 volumes to your local session every week.


;-)

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

Thanks for your suggestions, ‘Alpinerabbit’, Debbie (Van Tuyll), Nigel (Gatherer), CreadurMawnOrganig, ross (faison), and AB.
All Best wishes for the New Year. :)
Mollie

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

@Mollie,

I made a bookcase just out of melamine chipboard, and some of the books are wider and taller than A4 size.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x8oirkiizu43ui4/bookcase.JPG?dl=0

Also, those small filing cabinets are good for the thin books and individual A4 pages. For me, a lot easier than using a hole punch and ring binders.

Photo shows (left) two stacked cabinets (10 drawer, 6 drawer), and (right) larger 2 x 2-tier filing cabinets. All from a Staples store :)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/xz9odbkrs7u0omz/filing-cabinets.JPG?dl=0

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

Thanks, Jim - I like the look of those shallow-drawer filing cabinets. :)

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I use the magazine style files, and then everything that’s broadly similar gets put together - so the GHB regimental books all live next to each other. Next to them lives collections by Willie Roass and Donald MacLeod. Next to them lives other books published contemporaneously.

It would not gladden the heart of a librarian but I can find the box anything is in very easily, and the boxes are easy to search through.

I know myself well enough to know if I tried to do anything more complex I’d fail to keep it up. (I did at one point come up with a clever scheme involving giving books a serial number and creating a database. I gave up when I realised I was spending more time on the schema than I was practicing).

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Re: Best way to store sheet music?

Haha! I love those decoy labels Jim. That’ll throw them off.

“Why no, of course they’re not all stuffed full of tune books. Why do you ask?”

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

I have numerous folders of both sheet music and song lyrics (as paper versions) which I’ve acquired over the years, and have tried various systems, a bit like Nigel’s with different folders for different countries of origin. However, I have found that what works best for me is alphabetical, so various former folders are being merged. I still keep Christmas (2 folders) and Burns (large lever arch folder) separate, as well as my own compositions.
Most of my scores and lyric sheets are also on computer, where they are in sub-folders much as Nigel’s classification. I also use Dropbox and Google Drive for storing some sets for specific uses, e.g. our ceilidh band music, so that it can easily be sent in one link to other band members.
Then I have started transferring songs to Pages on iPad, and scores as pdfs to iBooks. I usually lop off any words such as "A" or "The" in titles first, so that they will be arranged alphabetically according to the first more significant word in the title.
But I won’t be throwing away all the paper, at least not just yet! But one of the things I’m worst at is putting everything back in the right place after having pulled out a bunch of songs or tunes for a specific gig!

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I keep mine in Dropbox. I had attempted to keep them all in Evernote along with a performance link or mp3 file but it was too much work and the project fell apart. Most apps like Forscore will open Dropbox files.

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Store it in your head! ;-)

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

Easy for you to say, AlBrown, easy for you to say…

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Re: Best way to store sheet music?

See my post on memory Al Brown………re ………what?????………..forgetting tunes……….er, was that what is was about??????? Your turn might come……….??????

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

Too many tunes in gorgeous eighteenth-century Scottish sources that I haven’t yet come on to for *my head* to be the perfect solution. :)
I hope I get the chance to learn them…

Each to his (or her) own.
Whatever works - whatever sounds good.

Thanks, Trish & Calum, for your latest suggestions.

Thanks to everyone who’s posted.

Happy New Year to all.
Mollie x

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

I have an enormous number of songs and tunes stored in my head, but the recovery wetware is very inefficient, especially for those in long term storage.

Re: Best way to store sheet music?

‘I have an enormous number of songs and tunes stored in my head, but the recovery wetware is very inefficient, especially for those in long term storage.’

:) :) :) :) :)

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I use those polythene display files - one advantage is I can alter the order eg I put a whole lot of slip jigs together after rearranging pages of tunes in no sort of order. Scotland file begins with Shetland/Ork. then broadens out. I used to have a file of Niel & Nathaniel Gow + tunes from N E England sadly left behind in Kirkwall. But you can spend ages rearranging - better things to do ie play ….. but a fun activity anyhow. S’times indexed.

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Thanks, Susan - I wish I had a file full of Niel and Nathaniel Gow! :)