en:vok:partitur

A score is the representation of musical arrangements with the help of notes, with the different voices (singing, instruments) etc. arranged vertically, making it possible to practice and perform a piece of music according to the intentions of its creator. Music for the ukulele is set in the treble clef. The printed output of scorewriting is called sheet music.

In the late 19th c., sheet music for pop music became an important branch of New York's musical industry (shortly referred to as “Tin Pan Alley” after its location near the Broadway in New York), because pop music performers were comparatively underpaid. As for ukulele sheet music, May Singhi Breen played an important role in popularizing it in the U.S.

Format

Typically, the item is either a single sheet folded into a folio to yield four pages, or a folio with a half-sheet inserted to yield six pages. In either case, the item generally begins with an illustrated title page often printed in more than one color. The inner pages present the score, consisting of a separate staff for the melody with lyrics printed below it, a piano accompaniment, and chord diagrams or symbols usually intended for the ukulele, but sometimes for tenor banjo or guitar. A copyright infringement warning is often printed in the fold, and advertisements for other items offered by the publisher frequently occupy the last page.1)

Relevance

Sheet music was particularly crucial in making Jazz music popular:

The music became a kind of do-it-yourself affair, since all you needed to make it with was a banjo or ukelele. Sheet music, setting out simplified chord sequences for these instruments, sold in their thousands …2)

Index of Sheet Music

The popularity of the Ukulele can be estimated quite precisely by regarding the amount of printed sheet music published since the 20th c.

E.g., the John Hopkins Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection has collected the following amount of sheet music with the "Ukulele" or "Ukelele" being part of either the titles or arrangements:

Period Ukulele Ukelele Sum of %
1909–1918 22 1 23 2.689 1
1919–1928 501 20 521 1.462 36
1929–1938 1.092 12 1.104 1.363 81
1939–1948 235 0 235 644 36
1949–1958 127 3 130 328 40
1959–1968 17 0 17 184 9

If we look closely at the “hottest” period, the details are:

Period Ukulele Ukelele Sum of %
1929 97 3 100 127 79
1930 82 3 85 99 86
1931 69 1 70 105 67
1932 95 1 96 127 76
1933 130 1 131 146 90
1934 180 0 180 200 90
1935 157 0 157 181 76
1936 111 1 112 152 87
1937 119 1 120 147 82
1938 52 1 53 76 70
1939 62 0 62 89 70

Thus, the Ukulele was hugely popular during the Twenties; it dominated the musical market during the Thirties; and for the next 20 years, its popularity maintained the level of the Twenties. Thereafter, it declined considerably.

Links


1) Elliker, Calvin: “Sheet Music Special Issues: Formats and Functions.” In: Notes 53:1 (1996), S. 9–17, hier S. 9
2) John Lucas: “Appropriate Falsehoods: English Poets and American Jazz”. In: The Yearbook of English Studies 17 (1987), S. 46-61, hier S. 47