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We’re Not Always About Long-Haired Music; an Introduction to Popular Music Lead Sheets

When you say the word music, people usually agree that they like it. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone say anything else; and if they didn’t like music, that would be a sad day for me.  But, music covers a lot of territory, and people have their reasons for liking or identifying with what appeals to them.

Here at the NLS Music Section, we encourage our patrons and music instructors to request whatever their pleasure when we add to the collection.  When I enrolled as a music major, someone asked my mother what sort of music I was studying. She said “long haired” music, and meant it in the sense of classical long haired composers like Beethoven and Mozart, not the ’60s long haired popular musicians like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. One of our magazines available by subscription is Popular Music Lead Sheets.  You can also access and download them via the home page of the NLS Music Section and the BARD link provided. 

Photo of Popular Music Leadsheet Number 83

 It is issued four times a year and contains the words, chord symbols, and melody lines of five popular songs in each issue.  These can range from old American standards of the early 20th century like Alexander’s Ragtime Band

Alex. ragtime cover
 Photo of Alexander’s Ragtime Band sheet music (PMLS #88, BRM 34111) 

to recent Broadway musicals like Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina (PMLS #51, BRM 29762.) Rock ‘n roll, country and jazz have their place in this magazine as well, but the choices are usually not too difficult with titles like Chantilly Lace, (PMLS #46, BRM 29627), I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth), (PMLS #70, BRM 32210) and Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear From Me (PMLS #83, BRM 32983.)  If you’re new to braille music, or even new to literary braille, these lead sheets can be a great teaching tool.

Part of the selection process for the songs is to confirm we have copyright permission to use the song in an issue. While everyone may love these songs, the copyright owners are very particular about who can reproduce their works, so we must respect that. And we’re always receptive to suggestions about which songs to include. One of our patrons and a frequent requestor, Ms. Audrey Joy,  works as an instructor of sighted and blind students in New York City and is a jazz pianist at piano bars. She is known as “the walking jukebox.” She takes requests in every pop music genre from jazz standards of the 40s through today’s hits, including show tunes. She keeps us hopping with requests of what the public wants to hear, and since she is living and working under the neon lights on Broadway, we pay attention; this lady knows her audience.  She is so entertaining with her telephone requests, I can imagine what a great show she presents when performing.

Whether you are feeling melancholy As Time Goes By, (PMLS #12, BRM 28198) or would like to celebrate Being Alive, (PMLS #102, BRM 35445) check out our issues by scrolling down on the NLS Music Section  page and start grooving today.

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