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Music Materials

Music Scores and Books

The NLS music collection, authorized by Congress in 1962, includes braille and large-print musical scores, recorded instructional materials, and recorded materials about music and musicians. All materials are circulated postage free, and some digital audio and ebraille materials are available for download over the Internet. Any person eligible for NLS service is also eligible for NLS music services. However, while patrons receive most NLS services through the network of cooperating libraries, music materials are circulated directly to patrons from the NLS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Services must be requested through the office as noted below.

How to Request Music Materials

To receive music materials from NLS, eligible patrons may contact the NLS Music Section via email , phone at 1-800-424-8567 ext. 2, fax at (202) 707-0712, or postal mail at:

Music Section
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542

The Music Section has produced a number of catalogs listing available material, which can be requested along with other Music Section publications. If interested, please complete the music publication order form. Some are also available by download, as described below.

The Music Section welcomes comments from patrons.

Download Music Books

Learn how to access audio and braille materials online.

The Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) is a web-based service that provides access to thousands of braille and encrypted audio books, magazines, and music scores available from NLS. The service is available to registered users of the braille and talking book program through their local braille and talking book library.

A variety of audio and braille music books may be also downloaded through the BARD Mobile app, which requires connection to a refreshable braille display via a Bluetooth connection. The BARD website and mobile app are password-protected, and all files are in an electronically downloadable form of compressed audio or formatted braille. BARD is available to registered users of NLS through their local braille and talking book library.

Publications about the NLS Music Section

Learn more about the Music Section, and the services it provides.

Music Circulars, Guides, and Resources

Learn more about the offerings of the audio, braille, and large-print music materials

Music Catalogs

Music Magazines – Popular Music Lead Sheets (PMLS)

  • Published by the NLS Music Section four times each year, approximately quarterly, available in embossed braille and on BARD
  • Contains lyrics, melody, and chords for five songs popular in the United States, often from different eras
  • Patrons registered with NLS Music Section can subscribe to the title and receive new issues when published
  • Patrons registered on BARD can download .brf files of any issue
  • Alphabetical list by song title
  • Sequential list by PMLS issue number

Music Braille Code

Learn how to transcribe music notes and symbols to braille

Music Transcribing Manual

Introduction to Braille Music Transcription, Second Edition 2005, by Mary Turner De Garmo, revised and edited by Lawrence R. Smith, Music Braille Transcriber

Print edition

Braille edition