Welcome to Bill's Audio Reference Library. It's totally free, nothing for sale here. This site focuses mainly on the public domain works (published in 1923 or earlier) of North American popular piano music. The main goal, in keeping with this being a reference library, is to present a hopefully passable audio file along with access to the sheet music (link or pdf) for each selection so the visitor can have both an aural and visual experience without further searching. A second goal is to use this site as a means to locate and feature the works of selected composers. Of course, some of the selected composer's works will be easier to locate than others. I am always pursuing every possible avenue in my quest to locate that rarer sheet music. This musical era consists of a large and magnificent body of works and while I can't possibly collect all the works of every composer of the era, I can certainly try to do as many as possible. Occasionally I have visitors offer to furnish me with copies of sheet music that I obviously have not found yet for a particular composer and I am certainly open to those offers. But to be clear, only I post the audio files on this site.
To create the audio files I used the Finale program loaded with the sound samples of the Garritan Steinway Model D piano up to November 2015 after which I've started using the modelled sounds of Pianoteq 6. I view using the Finale program as like being an orchestra conductor in that I am responsible for the musical end product but I don't actually play any of the notes. I use the Finale program as well to create the sheet music transcriptions. As for myself, I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Arizona State University in Tempe (1981) but am not trained as a musicologist or archivist and therefore consider myself to be an amateur archivist and musicologist.
A word on the posting of sheet music. Many archives have a strict policy prohibiting the reposting by others of source copies that they provide. Rest assured if any individual or archive is kind enough to provide me with a much-needed copy of sheet music, that unless permission to repost the source copy is explicitly volunteered at the outset, I will always assume that I do not have permission and will instead create and post a legal transcription (re-engraving) of the work.
I am licensing this website under Creative Commons Attribution-NonComercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International. Basically that means that you can freely use and share the material as long as it's not for profit and is properly attributed. You are free to repost my sheet music pdf's, both original source copies and transcriptions, and repost analog copies of my audio files as long as you attribute them to me (Bill Gill) and as long as you don't profit from them. You may also repost any research I have done if properly attributed and not for profit.
Creative Commons link: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
When dealing with the music and literature of this era (1890's - 1923) the issue of racism inevitably arises. In keeping with the historical practice of the archives and libraries I have not attempted to change any music titles from their original wording. They are what they are and any attempt to modify them amounts to an attempt to rewrite history. On page iii of my copy of Dover Publications Classic Piano Rags, there is a Publisher's Note which I believe says it best.
"Since the originals reproduced here are faithful historical documents as well as sources of enjoyment, the titles, textual material and artwork have not been changed even where they reflect the broader humor of their era, in which the nation was far less sensitive to jibes about minority groups. It is our belief that a mature understanding of our past is more fruitful than a falsification of history."
This site is a work in progress. I am continually adding new content to it.