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|General Site Information|
|Author:||All content written, coded, illustrated, maintained and posted by Bill Edwards|
As you look through this page, please keep in mind that a great deal of work has gone into what I do, and what other artists have contributed to ragtime performance and the advancement of the knowledge of this indigenous American music. With that in mind, know that your input is invaluable to any of us. Also, know that your patronage of any of us that have recordings or music for sale well help perpetuate future high-quality reference sources.
Often when I perform, one of the questions that has been most asked of me, other than "Can you play Deep in the Heart of Texas and take the piano with you?", is about where I am able to find the wealth of material that I'm able to present. Without intentionally duplicating anybody else's effort, I hope to present at least a primer here that answers that very question. I started collecting ragtime music in the late 1960s (yes, I was very young... very!) and at that time the resources were scant. There were several reasons for this.
A good example of the latter problem involves the release of the Vera Brodsky Lawrence edited version of the rags of Scott Joplin, which initially was called the "Collected Works" (Vol. 1, as Vol. 2 contained the songs with lyrics and the score to Treemonisha). Jerry Vogel, the single copyright holder for Searchlight Rag, Rose Leaf Rag and Fig Leaf Rag was not amicable to releasing the copyright at the time of publication (1971). As told to me by to historian Edward Berlin, he did not want to simply give the rags to the project, but wanted some form of compensation for publication rights, as he was still publishing the works in sheet music form, which was a fair request from a business perspective. It is possible that he was never offered compensation as such to his liking, but his sales for those three pieces thrived as a result of the other publication. So there are two distinct sides to that story. When Vogel died in 1980, his family released the rights (they were about to enter Public Domain anyway), and the book was re-released as the "Complete Works". Even now, much of the material that has become recently available in collections has just been released from copyright restriction (now dating to 1923 and holding due to recent legislation in the U.S. Congress).
Now, with the Internet and other electronic resources at our disposal, access to many of these pieces is easier. I will do my best to not only present sensible and easy sourcing, but to update this page whenever necessary. Understand that by necessity, some of the sources here will be links to more detailed link sources, rather than directly to the large number of growing resources directly. Comments and additions are always welcome (see below).
An additional note to this section on pricing. Over the past decade, many of you have asked me how I ascertain prices and why many pieces seem to be much higher in estimated value than they used to be. I use a combination of factors, including what I pay either on-line at auctions or at antique malls/shops, and the books like those of Marion Short that have pricing within the last few years. A development that is both flattering and mildly alarming is how ragtime sites such as mine have actually impacted pricing, particularly on eBay. In the early 1990s, pieces like Lion Tamer Rag or the Pastime Rags were rarely heard by the average ragtime collector or enthusiast, and were therefore easier to obtain at single-digit prices. The exposure given these pieces by the few ragtime sites that post them, particularly those with cover images, has raised the demand because musicians and other buyers now have a better idea of what they are getting. The "Perfessor" finds himself quoted quite often in eBay, with a reference to some recordings that are on his site. It is not my intent to create this phenomenon, as I also occasionally suffer the consequences when looking on-line for items of interest. It is even worse when the bids suddenly rise because of a certain few bidders like myself who show interest in an otherwise obscure piece. The best bet is still out there on the road in the little shops or the out-of-the-way antique malls and other places listed below. The on-line price peak seems to have been reached for the time being, particularly now that we are in a recession, but some auction pieces are still a bit overpriced for the average collector, and for that I apologize for whatever impact my colleagues and I have had on this. There are still good deals out there. You've just got to channel your passion into the effort to find them.
|"Perfessor" Bill's Tips For Sourcing Music|
Remember this suggestion when listening and learning what you have sourced: Try to develop your own style, even if it is a conglomeration of all those who influence you. I can play exactly like Paul Lingle and Joshua Rifkin. I can even imitate the licks of Lou Busch and Butch Thompson. It is an affable imitation of someone else, but it is not me. When I integrate these and create new ideas from my creative side, what comes out is "purely 'Perfessor' Bill." So, be original, but don't be afraid to lift good ideas where they occur - just make them your own! It's not plagiarism, it's simply research. For more detail on this, see my article on Playing Ragtime.
|Recommended Ragtime and Old-Time Web Resources|
|A huge inventory of covers for display in varying categories, mostly from 1850 to 1920, and many with downloadable images of the music as well. NEW for 2007 - a major upgrade including better presentation, larger images and PDFs for many pieces. This is the original on-line archive, and still one of the best historically.|
|Duke University has a nice inventory of selected sheet music categorized by decades from the 1850's to the 1920's, with images of the covers, music, and ads in various sizes for viewing or downloading.|
|A fine collection of music associated with Colorado and a great selection Ragtime sheet images. Includes some Euday Bowman originals.|
|This is a vast multi-library resource that covers parts of Indiana University not seen in their standard collection, and takes in Indiana Historical Society and other libraries as well. Good for research, even though not all sheets have associated images.|
|This site, home of the Charles H. Templeton Sr. Music Museum, has grown incredibly in 2007, with more to come. Beautiful design, and lots of ragtime goodies. The search engine works well now, and there are additional helpful resources on the site, which Charles Templeton Jr. assures me is one of his priorities and clearly the pride and joy of his late father.|
Archive of Popular American Music
|This fine collection has become quite expansive with many items found here that aren't elsewhere. Very good source for items that were included in early stage musicals, and nice resource for research as well.|
|An exciting addition to the many on-line archives, there are some very unique items that are to be found in this collection. The single drop-down title page is a bit more difficult to navigate, so the browse by composer pages (linked to here) are recommended. Just select Music from the list and Go.|
|A large multi-tiered archive with some standards as well as four to eight hand arrangements, hosted by the University of Maine libraries. There are several ways to search, and good keyword use or filtering by years are recommended to minimize results.|
| Baylor University Library|
|Baylor University has one of the newer web-based collections available, which is fun and worthwhile to browse through for researchers or casual users. Many of the sheets are in digital printable format.|
|Presented with the Detroit Public Library, this important collection includes full scans of many pieces of African-American music or that with Negro Themes, and is invaluable for research on composers like Fred S. Stone, Eubie Blake or Bert Williams among others.|
|This collection lives at the University of South Florida. It is a great reference for years of publication and publishers, as well as composers.|
|While mostly not available due to copyright restrictions, this collection still has some very unusual items that make it a great research tool, or perhaps confirmation for the existence of rare pieces. UNT also houses the great Stan Kenton library. Keep refreshing since this one times out after a few minutes.|
|A nicely organized and visually rich archive of African-American based music from 1850 to 1920, and worth a lengthy browse into its treasures.|
|The Cleveland Library Consortium is a good reference point for Ohio ragtime and beyond, and is involved with exchange or temporary lending programs with most U.S. libraries. So what you find here can often be borrowed or copied for research.|
|Sam DeVincent Collection of|
Illustrated American Sheet Music
|A well categorized collection acquired by the Smithsonian Institution, this focus largely on the images and how they reflect the American way of life. Images are few, but can be viewed at the American History Museum in Washington, D.C.|
|Ohio State University Libraries||Great reference site for listings recordings of ragtime and other music as well as research on composers and what they wrote. Scores can be made available through local college/university library lending programs.|
|The Library of Congress section devoted entirely to ragtime. You'll find rarities by many composers including original transcriptions easily downloaded for your perusal.|
|Libraries||One of the better references, albeit without on-line images at this time, of works published in and around Kansas City, including a lot of Charles L. Johnson pieces and items from the Jenkins and Hoffman catalogs. This makes for a fair research site on Missouri composers.|
|This school hosts the small but interesting Alvah Sulloway Sheet Music and Theater Program collection that goes beyond the ragtime era, focused in some respects on theater. Another good research tool with the occasional rare find, particularly in some of the programs.|
|Ragtime and other music from Down Under. This is an interesting resource that features not only music unique to Australia, but many imports from the U.S. and elsewhere as well. Search on "Rag" or specific composers or titles.|
|There are a surprising amount of great resources and references that include sheet music in this library archive, worth a look when trying to search for more information on any particular composer.|
|Ted Tjaden has assembled this site focused in part on his native Canada and on the music in general. Includes many scanned images of original sheet music and links to many more, plus excellent articles and information on rags, genres, composers, etc.|
|Covers and accompanying MIDI sequences for music from the 1800's to the 1940's. A very well balanced and represented collection with a good archive.|
|This well-known stop is a good source for much of the ragtime and traditional jazz currently in print, as well as lots of used material that is hard to find. Search on Ragtime Music|
|One of the most prestigious of booksellers, they host a considerable network of dealers that have rare sheet music available. Search on "Sheet Music", including the quotation marks.|
|Dover has the best of the best of ragtime folios as well as many other genres and categories of historical interest. Search on ragtime or follow the music links.|
|This on-line store has a large selection of ragtime music in both print and downloadable forms. From the following link you can see their Ragtime and Jazz/Blues Sheet Music selections.|
|MIDI-Classics||A vast resource of MIDI creation software, pre-recorded MIDI, a large inventory of music books, and much more.|
|Paul Riseman has frequent on-line auctions from a variety of estates and other sources, sometimes with some truly valuable finds. Read the rules carefully before bidding to avoid any confusion in the process.|
|This site allows you to download selected scores to your computer for printing.|
|Long a standard in the printed world, and now on-line, it is a great resource for music of the past 100 years with good articles on playing as well.|
|Within is one of the best online music stores (formerly Sunhawk.com), covering all styles of music, including many titles in the ragtime/old-time genre with legal digital downloads that you can print directly. This includes virtually all of the works by Scott Joplin. Search on "ragtime" or by title or composer. Many include MIDI files and can be transposed quickly, plus some have tab and/or chords.|
|This company specializes in hard to find or out of print books. Search on Ragtime or the specific book title. Since many of these books are rare but in good condition, expect to pay a premium for ownership.|
|This is the largest on-line 24/7 auction, and the available items are always changing with constant bidding. Items are offered by individual subscribers, and free registration is required to bid. Search on "Sheet Music" or try Collectibles:Sheet Music:By Decade,|
or Collectibles:Sheet Music:Blues and Jazz.
|A combination of sources combined into one location, you can search on multiple categories, including rag, and purchase scores for piano or morse, many from eBay buy-it-now links. At the very least, it can fast-track some of your searches for many items.|
I always welcome your comments, questions, corrections, and/or requests for further information or additional resources. I also will be glad to engage you in discussion about these topics if you want to mail me directly on . Also take a quick look at my FAQ page to see if your question might be answered there. Thank you so much. Remember that I can't respond to you without your e-mail address, and be CAREFUL to enter it CORRECTLY or no response will be forthcoming. This will only frustrate both of us. I will NEVER SPAM, so consider it between us only.