Public Domain Song Anthology

The Public Domain Song Anthology:
Popular Music for Study and Performance
with Modern and Traditional Harmonizations by David Berger and Chuck Israels

 We are experiencing unexpected publishing delays in finalizing the PDSA. We anticipate resolving issues and delivering content by July 31, 2019 February 2020.

The PDSA will be published online and available March 17th, 2020. At that time, you can view the volume and associated materials at

If you have further questions, please contact Kathleen DeLaurenti, Open Access Editor.

We invite your purchase with the accompanying benefits.

You may purchase your copy online or request an invoice to pay with a purchase order by emailing Kathleen DeLaurenti, Open Access Editor.



New! Make an individual tax deductible donation to the project through IndieGoGo!

In 2019, for the first time in 20 years, popular songs are being elevated into the public domain in the United States.

To celebrate, the Music Library Association and Aperio, the University of Virginia’s open access press, are excited to announce The Public Domain Song Anthology—the first open access music anthology in the Music Library Association Open Edition Series!

Published in collaboration with the Arthur Friedheim Library of the Peabody Institute and the University of Michigan Library, the anthology will make nearly 400 public domain songs available in brand new arrangements. As selected and curated by jazz repertory experts -- founding Jazz at Lincoln Center conductor and arranger David Berger and famed bassist and member of the Bill Evans Trio Chuck Israels -- the music is presented in new leadsheets with two harmonizations: traditional harmonies and contemporary harmonies that allow students and players to reimagine each tune. In celebration of the Public Domain, the authors’ are donating their new harmonizations and all other new content in the Anthology to the public domain with a CC-0 license so that teachers, students, and musicians can freely reuse, modify, and share anything in the Anthology.


Why a popular song anthology?

The Public Domain Song Anthology benefits music teachers, students, and performers and gives libraries a new way to provide important music resources to our communities.

With this publication, music teachers gain access to a new open educational resource for their schools and private studios. In private studios, requiring students to buy expensive repertoire books can limit who is able to take lessons and learn from master musicians. Having traditional and modern “chord changes” gives teachers a wonderful tool to demonstrate different approaches to harmonization and improvisation.

This anthology will also be valuable to professional musicians and singers who make their living in a variety of teaching and performance settings. Smaller performance venues such as bars and restaurants are often financially unable to pay a public performance license. Performing musicians will now be able to assure such venues that they can play out of this book, in addition to their original compositions, without any copyright obligation. The harmonic suggestions can impart ideas for further original compositions, as well as for performance of the Anthology songs.  

Our libraries aspire to make music accessible to our communities. Often, we must limit our resources to serving only our local communities. When your library supports the Anthology, you are adding a valuable resource to your local collection and making it available in perpetuity to a global community.

The Anthology will be released on June 15, 2019.


Purchase your Copy Today!

All libraries can purchase a hard copy of the anthology and and notification to add their holdings to a fully cataloged MARC record with a link to the online musicXML version.

Unlike traditional publishers who are able to invest costs in authoring and creating songbooks, we are funding this in advance to make the final product openly available. That means we're asking your library or institution to reserve your copy now instead of seeking cost recovery through sales.

To make this volume freely available, we are asking libraries to purchase their copy today.

More about the Anthology

Author Bios

Song list

Purchase for your library


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About MLA

The Music Library Association is the professional association for music libraries and librarianship in the United States. Founded in 1931, it has an international membership of librarians, musicians, scholars, educators, and members of the book and music trades. Complementing the Association’s national and international activities are eleven regional chapters that carry out its programs on the local level.