Get lead sheets for free (legally)

A “lead sheet” is a simplified form of sheet music that only contains a single staff with the melody, and chord symbols that give an indication of the harmony. It’s up to the players themselves to create the arrangement.

Lead sheets are very popular with many musicians, especially those who play Jazz and popular music.

A lead sheet gives you a quick idea of how a piece is supposed to sound, but it also gives you the freedom to play it however you feel like.

Often lead sheets are sold in thick books called “fake books” that can be pretty expensive. I have a couple of them and they are well worth the money — together they contain more than 2,000 songs — but they are not exhaustive (and there is quite a bit of overlap between them).

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on buying a fake book, or you’re just looking for a song that isn’t in your collection, check out wikifonia.org.

Wikifonia collects lead sheets and publishes them online, for free. The quality of the work is sometimes debatable, but at least it will give you a starting point. You can also submit your own lead sheets for the benefit of others.

Apparently the service is perfectly legal so you won’t have to worry about that either. ;-)

Read more articles on Piano Clues:

Basic Theory


Chords and Harmony


The Circle of Fifths


Arrangement, Improvisation and Composition


Reading Music and Sheet Music


How to Record Piano


Software and Virtual Instruments


Scales and Exercises


Digital Pianos


Links and Other Stuff


Comments

  1. Patrick ODonnell says:

    A retiree with limited funds. Thanks for your free info. I am trying to learn
    on a Casio WK3500 using Wikifonia Lead Sheets.

  2. shalom djokoto says:

    i would love to get some classical music sheets

  3. Mary says:

    Hi,

    I’m trying to do lead sheets for my daughter to sing tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m doing. I have to condense 8 pages into 3 pages which seems to me to be an impossible task. The song is Fairytale by Sara Bareilles. What do you think?

  4. Are there any other lead sheet websites? There are a few songs I want and can not find them anywhere.

  5. Desperately seeking the lead sheet to Healing Hands by Jonathan Pierce. I used to sing this song in church, then my accompaniment tape was stolen. That was about 10 years ago and I haven’t sang it since.

    I would love to have the lead sheet and learn how to play this song for myself.

    Thanks!

  6. Frank says:

    Great site is wikifonia.org

  7. Daisy says:

    I agree that Wikifonia is a good source, but 9 times out of 10 when I try to access it, the site is down. IT IS SO frustrating ! I just tried again this morning (3 days) have you any idea why this site is down more often than not?

  8. geno says:

    I only play with lead sheets and even though I am an amature–I sounds good
    I am looking for a “gimmick” sort of a “loaded” computer program I once observed
    some one using–It looked like a tablet–any song I asked it produced I really know this really exists–anyone know where this can be obtained?

  9. SHEILA COOK says:

    I’m a singer and looking for a lead sheet for ‘All I need Now is the Girl”.

    Can you suggest where I can find it. I’ve tried Wikifonia with no luck.

    Thanks

  10. Eddy says:

    Why is http://www.wikifonia.com shut down so often? This works so easily and effortless. I’m betting most users would gladly pay $1.00 a sheet. But free was amazing. How can we get this back on line?

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