Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Places to Find Free Music on the Internet

I am putting the finishing touches on my blog post for Friday on “Music for an Easter Vigil”. In doing so, I am not planning to create a music montage/podcast, but rather provide you with links to Internet resources that provide music off your web browser, which you can download if you so choose.

One such resource is “Public Domain Classic”, a Japanese-hosted web site:

The site provides a large selection of music from Bach to Weber. The recordings date anywhere between early acoustic recordings to the early days of stereo (roughly the 50-years between 1910 and 1960), and feature renowned performances for recognizable soloists, conductors and orchestras.

I plan, from time to time, to use links to this site in lieu of putting together a montage. In other cases, I may simply point you to that site for additional selections or to compare performances.

In general, I have found the quality of the digital files to be more “hit” than “miss”, generally anywhere from good to excellent, though you must remember that sometimes the track quality is limited by the recording technology of the time and the source (studio Vs. radio broadcast). In more than one instance, the performance outshines the technology, making it well worth sampling, or even keeping as part of your own music collection.

Mining this site has allowed me to rediscover the likes of Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, Bruno Walter and the New-York Philharmonic, only to name a few. Some recordings dating form early stereo between, say, 1950 and 1960 are in fact so good that they compare favourably to contemporary releases in my opinion.

Another resource I like to mine for classical music is, believe it or not, YouTube. If you use your favourite search engine to find specific works on the web, more often than not, the engine will suggest “video results”. What I have found when sampling those “hits” is that you get the expected amateur performances, but also “TV broadcast performances”, as well as the odd video-montage that uses commercially available tracks as background music. You would be surprised what you can find when you least expect it!

There are many free resources on the Internet that allow you to “convert” YouTube videos to MP3 format. Here is one such resource:

The process yields often good to very good quality digital tracks, and only takes a few minutes (if that…). The types of tracks I have added to my collection have included a couple of “Golden Age of Television” broadcast performances – one that comes to mind is the legendary Leonard Bernstein lecture on Beethoven’s Fifth he gave in the 19050’s on the ABC-TV anthology series “Omnibus”, pristine-sounding copies of studio recordings by Maria Callas and Erich Kunzel, and many others.

I have more sites that I have mined for free music on the Internet – and I plan to bring those to your attention from time to time.

More blogging on Friday!

[Because we are not managing third-party web content, ITYWLTMT does not guarantee the currency of the link – all we can guarantee is that the link worked “as advertised” at the time of the original blog post. Enjoy!]

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