Sheet Music Organization
I am in the middle of cleaning house, and am trying to figure out how to organize my sheet music. Since I've worked as an orchestral librarian, I have my own system that I want to use but I need something to put them in. Regular (to Americans) file folders don't work for my orchestral pieces (orchestral parts are too large for them). Any ideas?
I have found that music stays in better shape if it is stored flat ("horizontal storage"). I used a filing cabinet with file folders 50 years ago ("vertical storage"). When the filing cabinet became insufficient I tried vertical storage on shelves. Some of my music was inherited from my father who died 65 yeas ago and is over 100 years old; it survives "horizontal storage" without the aging stresses of "vertical storage."
There have been other threads on this in the past. For example:
I second Andrew's suggestion: Store the music horizontally. When I was young sheet music stores stored their music horizontally on shelves in stacks of up to about a foot high with a cardboard cover on top. On the cardboard a description of the content of the stack (done with a marker), e.g. "string quartets E - F".
IKEA's got a lot of storage boxes around the size of an orchestral part - TJENA's 9 3/4x 13 3/4, SMARASSEL is 10 3/4 x 13 3/4
You don't have to "log on or off every time" with my system either. Unless you are buying/selling/trading music all the time, once you have finished creating your spreadsheet catalog you can sort it by your most preferred means of searching (often this will be by composer) and then print it out and keep it near where your music is stored. But I bet you will find that making three or four taps on your phone is not a challenging task especially if you set a bookmark for your Google sheet in your browser.
I use draughtsman's folders to prevent over-sized orchestral parts from getting dog-eared.
For you folks taking a lay-flat approach, do you have a specific cabinet to recommend? I desperately need to get my music collection under control.
I have had mine for a long time. It came as a gift from my mother. She had found somewhere an old cabinet (I mean old!) and had it restored by a carpenter for me as a music cabinet when I moved out at home. It is going to fall victim to an upcoming move now.
Lydia how about something like this, perhaps you can order extra shelves for it.
Use „ architects file cabinet“ for a search. Would those be a solution for the lay-flat approach?
I understand that frail music may store better flat but most of mine is pretty hardy and I find its much easier to look through vertical music than to dig through a horizontal pile. I have an Ikea open multi-box unit. In that I put clear plastic 'desk file holders' (Staples) - but the kind without a front or a top - so that any music size will fit. These are about 4 inches wide so they serve to both organize and to ensure that the music does not flop over. I'd share a picture of the holder but can not find one online (almost all of these have a stupid short front or top panel that stops you putting oversize paper in)!
The journal article problem is what originally inspired me to enumerate my music. After completing my whole dissertation using the "footnotes" feature of Word Perfect, my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) introduced me to MS-DOS software called "Papyrus" that was one of the best fully searchable journal article database of its time. It's hallmark feature was that every new article got the next index number! You entered all the other data (author, journal, keywords for searching later), and stored the physical copy in a huge file cabinet by number, usually in pendaflex folders 10 at a time. That was fine in the days before the proliferation of journals and "information" became truly obscene. More recently we have software like EndNote and Mendeley which are able to extract PDF articles directly from journal databases and store them in searchable full-text with all the reference information ready to drop into fully automated bibliographies. What we need is for the fledgling music databases (such as MobileSheets, which has PC companion software) to interface with IMSLP just as smoothly as EndNote interfaces with SciFinder. In 20 years or fewer, when you go to your violin lesson you will clip your tablet to a stand in your teacher's studio, and as you play your teacher will be marking your part on their own tablet and transferring the markings to you with a couple of pen clicks. Suzuki will go paperless.
I do not have a big collection, but I do a combo of lay flat and upright (as my bookcase allows). For now, I have my lay flat items in the wire mesh magazine holders and have them laying on their side with pieces of foam core between them to keep them level. It is a really not great approach because getting items out of said holders requires a lot of taking apart. I'm looking into what the scrap-bookers do with their assorted papers, or as Paul suggested: the mail sorting shelves/cabinets, as I think this would be a fine way to keep my meager collection of music.
I currently have Billy shelves with my music stored vertically. I tried hanging file folders as well, but the cabinet was cheap and crappy and that didn't work out very well.
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