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I don’t know any Russian, but I have a CD of Russian folk songs that I’m giving to a Russian learner as a gift. The liner notes have parallel lyrics in Russian and English, which is great. But from my experience listening to opera and from learning other languages, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to follow along to music in an unfamiliar language when there are notes to follow too. You end up following the song in three languages at the same time—printed music, English, and the foreign language—two familiar, one unfamiliar.

What is the Russian term for “sheet music” that I can use to try and find scores/manuscripts/notes for folk songs on the internet? For example, what do I add to the end of “начну на флейте стихи печальны” in Google to turn up printed notes instead of mp3s or lyrics?

I’ve tried looking up related terms in online dictionaries and I’ve gotten things like ноты (notes) and принтед музыки (printed music) that seem better than plain музыка (music), but I’m not getting any sheet music back from Google using them.

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Translation ноты is the correct one - and the one you should use when searching for sheet music. While you can try searching on the site suggested by c.p., it's worth remembering that folk songs originate in exactly that manner: from regular folk (people), of whom rare few would even realise that you can write the music on a sheet of paper, let alone do it. The melodies to such songs are passed from people to people and from generation to generation, slightly changing in the process, therefore it's pretty much all but impossible to find the real sheet music for the folk songs.

What you may find are versions recorded and transcribed by various composers at various times. The same song would likely be recorded differently by different composers, too. On the whole, only a small fraction of the folk songs was ever recorded in a sheet music format to be released publicly. The folk songs on a recorded CD, if they are performed with a music and not vocal only, were likely written down as sheet music for the specific recording/performance and were not releases publicly.

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    if "ноты" doesn't help, try "партитура". Though you may end up with paper containing all instruments, not only the vocal part.
    – Alissa
    Jan 20 '16 at 10:40
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I would also add that "начну на флейте стихи печальны" is not a folk song - it is a canticle (кант), so in contrast to folk songs you can potentially find the right notes for it.

As for searching with Google - use search options to filter out the irrelevant results: add "-mp3" to filter out mp3's. Also try to specify file type that usually contains notes (for instance pdf: "filetype:pdf". So, the search line for instance will be:

начну на флейте стихи печальны ноты -mp3 filetype:pdf

Also, sometimes lyrics in such files may be separated by dashes, so maybe it would be worth to replace lyrics with song title Стихи похвальные России.

As notes are often are posted as images - try to search for images: click on Images tab in Google search.

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You were right, you should use ноты. Unfortunately though, the song you're trying to find is old and rare, most probably you can find the original notes only in specialized libraries.

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You may want to take a look at http://notes.tarakanov.net/ if you need digital sheets for folk songs, it may be of a help.

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You need to type in Google "Начну на флейте стихи печальны ноты", for example on the website https://musicnotes.info/klassiceskaa-muzyka they were once

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