Performing Arts Reading Room
Service point for the over 12 million items in the Music Division of the Library of Congress which also includes theater and dance. Some collections are available online.
The Ballad Index Web Site
Offers detailed information on first publications and actual pages of "folk" ballads for those who need to know which folk songs are actually in the public domain. "Folk" does not necessarily equate with "old", and about 75% of the most familiar folk songs are NOT in the public domain.
Free Sheet Music on the Web
The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection
Johns Hopkins University's Eisenhower Library. This is collection is about 20,000 items of popular music from 1700s to 1922. All currently available downloads are PD. The Levy collection was the basis of the Dover Books sheet music facsimile publications. All pieces of the collection are indexed on this site and a search will retrieve a catalog description of the pieces. An image of the cover and each page of music will also be retrieved if the music was published before 1924 and is in the public domain.
Petrucci Music Library
Contains more than 26,000 works in over 66,000 scores and parts which can be dowlnoaded in PDF format. Some MP3 recordings accompany scores.
Since 1994 Ceolas is the home of Celtic music everything including several tune books and an index in which you can identify which tunes are PD. Ceolas houses the largest online collection of information on Celtic music, and has links to hundreds of related sites. Current popularity is over half a million hits per month.
Free Recordings on the Web
From the American Variety Stage around 1920 are on line at the Library of Congress. You'll need plenty of RAM and a RealAudio player. Variety entertainment dominated the popular recording industry's acoustic era (pre -1925), from its beginnings in the 1890s, when records were made on wax cylinders, right up to the beginning of the jazz age in the mid-1920s. From slapstick vaudeville routines and ethnic dialect skits to romantic ballads and dramatic recitations, sound recordings brought variety entertainment into the homes of millions of Americans.