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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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  • "принтед" is English written with Russian letters, lol.
    – Anixx
    May 11, 2013 at 4:40
  • Have a look at the following link: imslp.org/wiki/Category:Folk_Songs,_Russian/Collections or directly search specific pieces in imslp.org.
    – c.p.
    May 11, 2013 at 5:35
  • You may want to take a look at notes.tarakanov.net if you need digital sheets for folk songs. It may be of a help.
    – Sayon
    May 12, 2013 at 13:51
  • Hello @andrewdotn, I don't understand why you've rejected my proposed edit. Can you explain that to me please? May 4, 2023 at 22:17

4 Answers 4

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The 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 a rare few would even realise that it's possible to put the music down on a sheet of paper, let alone actually 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 folk songs.

What you may find are versions recorded and transcribed by various composers at various times. The same song would most likely be recorded differently by different composers, too. On the whole, only a small fraction of folk songs has ever been recorded in a sheet music format to be released publicly. The folk songs on a recorded CD, if put out only as instrumental, were most likely written down as sheet music for that specific recording/performance and were not released 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, 2016 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 the file type that usually contains notes (for instance pdf: "filetype:pdf". So the search line, for instance, would read:

начну на флейте стихи печальны ноты -mp3 filetype:pdf

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

As notes are often posted as images - try searching for images: click on the 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. You can probably only find the original notes in specialized libraries.

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You need to type in Google "Начну на флейте стихи печальны ноты", for example the website https://musicnotes.info/klassiceskaa-muzyka had them at one point.

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