The SRU Sousa Project is an attempt to make the library of John Philip Sousa's marches that have entered the public domain easily available in readable, open formats. The emphasis will be on providing clear parts and scores for actual performance, and in consistency between the score and the parts. This project is born out of the frustrating experience of attempting to read fifth-generation photocopies of antique parts. It is not my goal just to collect Sousa march music, which is available elsewhere, but to create new, clearly-engraved parts, free from as many errors as possible. However, I will post marches in scanned-originals form as soon as I have both time and clean originals.
I believe that this work will be of highest utility if I do the marches most likely to be played. Thus, I will generally do the most popular marches first. Requests will be considered.
|Across the Danube||1877||Scans of originals only.|
|Stars and Stripes Forever||1896||Completed.|
|The Thunderer||1889||Completed except drums.|
|U.S. Field Artillery||1918||Completed.|
Much Sousa material is available elsewhere on the Internet, but often it consists of scans of sheet music (Library of Congress) (Petrucci Music Library) (BandMusic PDF Library) or transcriptions in proprietary formats such as Finale(R). This project will endeavor to make scores available, as well as parts for individual instruments. These will be available in Lilypond format, PDF's generated from Lilypond, and scans of the original sheet music. An attempt will be made to eliminate as many errors as possible in transcribing from the original sheet music into Lilypond. And Lilypond generates beautiful parts and scores!
The U.S. Marine Band has undertaken a project to record all of Sousa's marches, and make the sheet music available as PDF files. They have already released Volumes I. II, and III, including Sousa's first 55 marches (counting chronologically), and the PDF's are beautifully transcribed. The Marine Band has had access to antique Sousa scores and the traditions of former Sousa Band members who have indicated many of the changes Sousa made in his marches over time. These changes have been incorporated into the scores and parts that they have made available. Having heard an October, 2017 performance of the Marine Band playing Semper Fidelis, I heard several complex parts in the music that do not exist in the published music that I have seen. Therefore, I would expect that, in general, the versions on this site may well be easier for amateur musicians to play than the new Marine Band versions. See the Marine Band's Website for more info. Note that all U.S. Government publications are in the public domain, including these recordings and the sheet music.
I do not have easy access to this traditional Sousa information, so scores and parts on this site will stick somewhat closely to the popular published scores and parts. If your band has chosen to use the Marine Band's new parts, it would not be a good idea for you to use a part from this site. However, if your band is using copies of the old published music, using a part from this site will have several benefits for you: clear engraving, errors corrected, and (except for corrected errors) close adherance to the published scores and parts. You can also edit a copy of the Lilypond file to incorporate any local changes made in your band, and then generate a clean PDF.
I will include lines in my tables for each part that I am aware of. If you are aware of the existence of an instrumental part not represented in my tables for some march, please make me aware of it. A copy of such a part will be particularly appreciated.
In general, I would appreciate receiving a copy of any Sousa part that I am missing, provided it is in the public domain. Though IANAL, it seems reasonable to assume that, in the United States, works published before 1923 are in the public domain. Sousa parts arranged or edited after 1922 by other musicians, notably Fredrick Fennell, are usually covered by a newer copyright, and are presumably not yet in the public domain.
Some publishers (e.g., John Church Company) list the copyright date only on certain parts, such as first cornet, so you might have to hunt for it.
I do not want to slight Frederick Fennell. He has done us a service by editing a lot of Sousa's marches, transposing for modern instrumentation and eliminating many errors and inconsistencies. However, having done so, he copyrighted his work, and Fennell-arranged parts, as well as many parts arranged by other editors, will not enter the public domain for many years.
Thanks to the following for original parts on which the project has depended:
Public domain material needs to be in an open format. While there are several excellent proprietary music notation editors with their own proprietary formats, I have chosen to store music notation in LilyPond format because it is an open format, i.e., the specifications of the format are available free of charge, and anyone may have a say in future development of the format. This means that music in Lilypond format will remain open, so, should the format definition change, any competent computer programmer can update the files to the new version of the format. It also means that there is no proprietary lock-in: anyone can write a LilyPond processor, given sufficient expertise in programming and graphics.
Lilypond has the advantage that its engraving is arguably better than that of proprietary music engraving programs.
For similar reasons, I have stored processed files as PDF's. PDF is an open format, and anyone can print a PDF, even if they do not have access to a LilyPond processor.
There are many little errors on Sousa's printed parts. For example, an accent on a note in the first cornet part may not appear on the same note in the second cornet part. A part marked markato on one part may be staccato on another. In many of the parts for Semper Fidelis, for example, the second-last measure is missing. There are also inconsistencies, such as different ways of indicating the same thing on different parts. In some parts, a first and second ending may take two measures each; in other parts they take one measure each. I have taken the liberty to "fix" some of these errors and inconsistencies, as I find them, in transcribing the parts into LilyPond. When there is a discrepancy, I tend to make the part match the score. I will also place a capital letter in a box labeling the beginning of each major part of each march. I will appreciate hearing about errors or inconsistencies that I have missed (or introduced!). For those who would rather have the original version, I am including copies of the originals in PDF format as I get them scanned.
My understanding of LilyPond encoding is improving with experience. I have been able to limit many of the printouts to single letter-sized pages, and I hope eventually to fit individual parts onto folio-size paper, which will be important to any band wishing to play these marches while actually marching.
The Sousa Project is an effort of Michael P. Conlon, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of the Slippery Rock University Computer Science Department. I may be reached at michael dot conlon at sru.edu or via telephone at 1-724-794-5343.
This project was initiated in December, 2010.
This page was last updated on November 16, 2017.