- Schubertline: The Online Score Service for Singers
Schubertline sells digital scores for over 1,700 songs, derived from scores in the public domain (in the United Kingdom). The music is provided in Scorch format, and requires the Scorch software, a free digital music reader from the makers of Sibelius, a full-featured digital music editor. Scorch is the same format used by several other online music retailers, and by Grove Music Online. It is important to note that although these are digital files, the purchaser acquires only a very limited set of rights. Specifically, the user is allowed to print one copy of the score (unless he or she has paid for more than one). After the single printout, the file becomes crippled and will not print again. Though the delivery mechanism is radically different from traditional publishing channels, in this sense it is very much like buying a single copy of sheet music. Unlike printed music, though, the user can transpose music quite easily into any key before printing it.
The service is named after the great Viennese composer of lieder, and Schubert is, not surprisingly, represented by more songs than any other composer. To judge by their own assertions, though, the publishers seem a little hazy on the extent of Schubert's output. The home page claims a "comprehensive library of his lieder, including Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise, Schwanengesang—over 200 Schubert songs". There are actually far more than 200 editions of Schubert songs on the service, as many appear in more than one key, but there are 207 unique settings. Of course this is hardly a comprehensive library, given that Schubert wrote over 600 songs.
The numbers drop off significantly after Schubert. Schumann and Brahms are each represented by sixty-eight lieder. There are just twenty-four of Hugo Wolf's songs included. Bach is represented by eighteen excerpts from cantatas, passions, and the Magnificat, Handel by forty songs and arias. Coverage of French song seems weaker than that of German lieder. Debussy and Duparc are not well-represented, with seven and four songs respectively. Fauré fares somewhat better with thirty-two, while Satie is not included at all. On the English side of the ledger, there are twenty-four selections by Purcell, four by John Dowland, and ten by George Butterworth. One must bear in mind the built-in limitation that all the scores are public domain in the United Kingdom, defined as having been written by composers and poets dead at least seventy years. The scores are prepared from a variety of public domain editions and are published under Schubertline's own copyright. They are not strictly reprints.
The heart of the site is the Library and Scorch Shop, which allows the user to browse and search the available repertoire. Eighty composers covered on the site are listed, with links to alphabetical lists of each composer's songs. This list of composers, however, turns out not to be complete. Songs by several minor composers (Biancosi and Buzzoleni, to name two) are available, but their names do not appear in the listings of composers on the Library home page. Schubert is featured in a separate pane with links to sections of his alphabetical title listing. There is also a pane that has links to "Songs by Other Composers", A–K and L–Z. These lists of songs, however, are not arranged by title, as one might expect, but by composer. There is no real way to browse the database by title.
The alphabetization within title lists is a little quirky. The system...