Musical Librarianship: MLA Public Domain Song Anthology

MLA: Public Domain Song Anthology

The Music Library Association is thrilled to announce the Public Domain Song Anthology: Popular Music for Study and Performance with modern and traditional hamonizations by David Berger and Chuck Israels.

The first Music Library Association Open Edition and the first open educational score anthology, the Anthology will be published by Aperio, the University of Virginia Library’s open access press.

The Public Domain Song Anthology is a songbook of 370 popular tunes that includes early popular music, jazz, and traditional tunes that have become part of the jazz standard repertory. Newly arranged by David Berger (Jazz at Lincoln Center) and Chuck Israels (bassist and former member of the Bill Evans Trio), the songs are presented with both a modern and traditional harmonization – providing students and performers with expert lessons on how to realize these important tunes in the standard repertory.

This is an open education project, and the MLA is looking to secure productions costs in advance of release instead of recouping costs through sales. They are inviting libraries to purchase the Anthology with a variety of value-added options. You can purchase your copy of the Public Domain Song Anthology here.

The publication is engraved in Sibelius notation software and will be released as Sibelius source files, musicXML, and a musicXML encoded PDF. Sibelius files are meet NVDA standards for musicians with visual impairments and musicXML files will be translated to Braille music files over time. In addition to being an accessible teaching and learning tool, because all of the tunes are in the public domain, the songbook can be used by professional musicians who are looking for repertoire to play alongside originals in small clubs and restaurants that do not have public performance licenses.

David and Chuck are donating all of their original work in these arrangements to the public domain with a CC-0 license in celebration of the 13 new works included entering the public domain in 2019.

The Music Library Association is grateful for co-publishing support from the University of Michigan Library and the Arthur Friedheim Library of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

Questions? Please email Kathleen DeLaurenti, Head Librarian, Arthur Friedheim Library at or email!

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