Popular Music Tune-Dex Cards

TuneDex

Front and back of a Tune-Dex Card

The Special Collections and Archives recently cataloged a collection of approximately 9,000 Tune-Dex cards from the WSB Radio Records.  You can refer to our catalog to review our holdings..

Similar to lead sheets, Tune-Dex cards are 3×5 index cards that consist of the essential elements of popular songs — main melody, chord symbols and lyrics.  The cards also contain other relevant information such as composer, publisher, licensing and copyright information.

George Goodwin, a radio station program director, first published the cards in 1942 and continued publication until 1963.  The creation of the cards grew out of Goodwin’s need to have a reference source when selecting music for radio programs.  The cards were also marketed to musicians as a tool to aid in remembering songs for performance.   As a result, the cards later morphed into the widely used “fake books” of today, which are basically bound volumes of lead sheets.

Questions about the music collection in the Special Collections and Archives should be directed to Kevin Fleming, archivist, Popular Music and Culture Collection, at 404-413-2880 or archives@gsu.edu.

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6 Responses to Popular Music Tune-Dex Cards

  1. Peggy says:

    I found a 12 drawer box of Tune Dex at a garage sale. I wanted the drawers and don’t want to throw out something which might be of use and perhaps value to a composer/arranger.

  2. Shan says:

    Wow! Will these be available to view online?

  3. Kevin Fleming says:

    In the coming months, I plan to have a database of all of the songs online. However, since many of the songs are still under copyright I will not be able to have the actual music available online.

  4. ivan says:

    Interesting read. Did not know of the existance of these cards. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Don Hertig says:

    I would be very interested. I write concert scores for high school and community bands in the Northern VA area (for free since I have a day-time job).

  6. Kathy says:

    I have a few drawers of these cards. They were my grandpas. Alphabetized. Would anyone or any establishment appreciate these? I’m a couple hrs north of NYC.