Dominic's Popular Sheet Music

Dominic Vautier 2/17/2012



For much of American history songs were kept on sheets of paper.  Printed sheet music was the only media available to the industry for the last two centuries or so, that is until recorded music came along.  No other way to communicate musical content existed except by word of mouth which was at best unreliable.  So before phonograph records were here sheet music was America's only song media.

What did Popular sheet music look like?

The Great Sheet Music Era

Popular Sheet music began to really thrive around 1892 and reached it's zenith by 1910.  There were billions of sheets produced but not much of it survives.  It's was just too easy to get worn out and get thrown away.

Most of the writers of popular music tended to gravitate to New York City, occupying the low rent, beat-up and otherwise unused brick buildings along 28th Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan.  These buildings had been abandoned earlier by wealthier classes, who migrated to more open country further north.  This area came to be known after 1909 as the “Tin Pan Alley” district.  Songwriters and musicians were drawn here because of the proximity of publishers, availability of cheap rent, exposure to people of the same trade, and a general acceptance of musicians from local inhabitants.  And think of all the rich sources of subject material close by: the Tenderloin, with its cheap brothels and taverns; the Bowery, with its many theaters and vaudeville houses; the Lower East side with a vast immigrant diversity; and, of course, the Great White Way (Broadway) with its many shows and musicals.

So Tin Pan Alley thrived and so did sheet music.

Some reasons why sheet music thrived.

What happened to sheet music?

My music collection.

I have a lot of old sheet music from the gaslight period, more properly the period starting from about 1892 until the war.  I will try to present most of this material over time.  Here are some of the songs.  Each selection contains all the music on the sheet along with advertisements and endorsements, lots of fun to look at.

Alexander's Ragtime Band

Any Little Girl, That's a Nice Little Girl, is the Right Kind of Girl for Me

Put on your old Grey Bonnet

Can't You Hear Me Callin' Caroline

Casey Jones

In All my Dreams I Dream of You

Mansion of Aching Hearts

A Perfect Day


Red Wing

After the Roses have Faded Away

Silver Threads among the Gold


In the Village by the Sea

You're a Dangerous Girl