The ‘Scores of Scores’ lieder corpus encoding project is a major contribution to the OpenScore encoding effort. We are creating and releasing publicly a large repository of high-quality musical scores which any internet user will be able to play, download, transpose and use as they please. As of 2020, in addition to the scores, we are also running a parallel collection of harmonic analyses for those songs.

URL Menu

  1. The scores are on MuseScore, available to play online, download in multiple formats, transpose, and more;
  2. This page provides an introduction;
  3. Notes for transcribers are on a dedicated page here;
  4. ‘Learn by Doing Lieder Transcription’: Suggested transcription-based exercises for the intrepid student of music theory;
  5. Homepage for the launch event, ‘Scores of Scores’: Possibilities and Pitfalls with Musical Corpora.
  6. Notes for analysts

But first, here’s an example from the collection:

Schumann, Clara - Lieder, Op.12, No.4 - Liebst du um Schönheit on the OpenScore LiederCorpus main site

Overview and motivation

IMSLP has led the way with an initiative to provide the world with a huge repository of over 125,000 out-of-copyright musical scores in PDF (image) format. This has greatly democratised access to music, and enabled musicians to explore the repertoire more widely, more easily. This is great, but people are able to engage with music in much more direct and varied ways when they have access to ‘encoded’ score: not PDFs, but files which can be opened in free notation software like ‘MuseScore’ and adapted for specific tasks. The difference is the same as that between looking at an image of text and being able to edit that text in a word-processor. There are some corpora of scores in these editable formats, but they are inconsistent in their coverage and quality. Similarly, the existing ‘Optical Music Recognition’ software for converting from image to encoded format is not yet up to the task at scale and will be helped along by having reliable image-encoding pairs to work with.

The many popular uses of encoded scores include extracting a single part for private practice, creating arrangements for whatever musical forces are available, and making bespoke teaching resources (an ongoing focus for ‘Four Score and More’). It is also be useful to ‘Music Information Retrieval’: an academic field that analyses structural patterns in music.

Collaborators and engagement

We aim to engage with the widest possible public: anyone interested in music, of any age, ability, and nationality. To that end of engaging with that wide audience, we are delighted to have active collaborations with a range of partners.


MuseScore/OpenScore have connected us with their awesome community of encoders, and are hosting the final scores. The online repository ensures that there is no geographical barrier to encoding or accessing the scores. Just as importantly, there is also no financial barrier to entry thanks to MuseScore: a free, open-source, and high-quality notation software which can import/export to musicXML, and by extension to all industry-standard file types. Perhaps most remarkably of all, even blind musicians will be able to access the scores through the music21-enabled Braille output.

Thanks as always to our wonderful team, associates, collaborators and funders.

Round 2: ‘Scores More Score’

This ‘Scores of Scores’ project has developed a life of its own, happily continuing beyond the formal end of the initial project in 2018, thanks largely to the super-human efforts of Dan Rootham. We are now pleased to announce a second formal round centered on International Women’s Day (March 8) 2020. Our focus is to advance our collection of songs by women composers, completing those sets began, and extending further. We aim to reach a total of 500 songs in the corpus, and to be the first substantial CC0 corpus with parity of gender.

This 2020 edition is funded by the Central New York Humanities Corridor and is in collaboration with the magnificent Music Theory Examples by Women website, Cornell University the Eastman School of Music.

Additionally, this time, as well as the scores, we are also running a parallel collection of harmonic analyses. Here are the new notes for analysts.

We’d better call this second round ‘Scores More Score’, don’t you think? Thanks as always to our wonderful team, associates, collaborators and funders.

How can people get involved?

Everyone is welcome to contribute to the encoding effort through OpenScore. This website provides information for prospective contributors to the lieder corpus, here’s equivalent advice for OpenScore: How You Can Get Involved.

Apart from helping the musical world, encoders themselves also benefit from the task: copy-editing music is a very worthwhile pursuit that musicians have used as part of their education for as long as records exist. The story of Wagner copying out Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony twice stands as a famous testament to this. So, encode on and perhaps someday you’ll write world-changing, epic operas!

The Lieder Corpus project is an effort to transcribe hundreds of German and French songs, and to make them available copyright-free (under a CC0 license)

Launch event

In association with the Cambridge Big Data Strategic Research Initiative, Cambridge Digital Humanities Network and the University of Cambridge Faculty of Music, a ‘Scores of Scores’ event took take place on 19 June 2018, combining elements of a conference, workshop, hackathon, and ‘encodathon’. This saw the launch of both the ‘Scores of Scores’ encodings, and also a first application of those scores: the ‘Cut Outs’ automatic music theory exercises.