Library and Archives Canada
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Photograph of Helmut Kallmann


Helmut Kallmann

Sheet Music
From Canada's Past

About This Site

This site is a source of sheet music published in Canada before 1921, selected from Library and Archives Canada's historical collection.

Finding Sheet Music

Initiate a search for a piece of music by selecting "Search Sheet Music" in the left-hand menu.

Choose the time period you would like to search followed by the type of search field -- title, name (of composer, lyricist, performer, etc.), subject or AMICUS number -- and enter your key word(s) or AMICUS number in the search box.

You may prefer to browse all pieces listed in the database or limit your search to those for which printed music is available or those for which audio files are available.

Default searching has been set at "All Time Periods", "Any Keyword" and "Entire Database" for your convenience.

Click on the "Submit" button to begin your search.

Once you have found a piece of sheet music, you will see some or all of the following information:

  1. A description of the music. This includes names (composer, lyricist), title, publisher, description, notes and subject headings.
  2. A small colour image of the front cover. This "thumbnail" image, intended to give you a quick view of the cover, is linked to a larger image.
  3. A large colour image of the cover. This offers a detailed view, and is sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. View this image by clicking on the small image that appears with the description.
  4. A "View sheet music" icon. This links to a multi-page PDF file of the entire sheet music, sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. You need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader [Download Freeware] to use PDF files. Warning: the PDF files range from 250 to 700 KB, so they may take several minutes to download. If the sheet music appears fuzzy when loaded into Reader, use the "image size" button to modify the display.
  5. An "Audio" icon. This links to the audio examples that are available for selected titles. These audio files may be digital transfers from 78-rpm discs, excerpts from commercial recordings, or new recordings made for this site. To hear the audio, you will need to download and install RealPlayer [Download Freeware] on your computer.

Printing Sheet Music

To view and print a complete copy, the cover and sheet music must be accessed separately. This method was used to keep file sizes reasonably small. Both the cover and sheet music have been sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper.

To print the cover:

  1. Display the large cover image in your browser.
  2. Print the cover using your browser's print function.

To print the sheet music:

  1. Follow the "View sheet music" link to load the PDF file.
  2. Print the sheet music using Adobe Acrobat Reader's print function (launch it from the "View sheet music" link). Please be aware that, depending on your computer and Internet connection, loading and display may take several minutes. If the sheet music appears fuzzy when loaded into Reader, use the "image size" button to modify the display.

Technical Information

The sheet music covers were scanned in RGB colour at 300 dpi using Adobe Photoshop and an Epson 836XL flatbed scanner. After some minor adjustments, the tiff files were used to produce two jpeg versions for the website. The large, detailed images have a width of 4 inches and a resolution of 150 dpi. These files range in size from 60 to 200 KB. The images were sized to fit on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. The small "thumbnail" images have a width of 140 pixels and a resolution of 72 dpi. The thumbnail images are intended to give a quick view of the covers, and file sizes range from 8 to 12 KB.

The sheet music was scanned in black and white at 600 dpi to optimize the sharpness of the notation and to produce the best possible print output. The tiff files were then sized to print on 8.5 x 11-inch paper, saved in PDF format, and linked to produce multi-page PDF files. They range from 250 to 700 KB.