SFD 2013 Music Sampler
This music sampler is being put together by the group in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: 2013/Canada/Kitchener/Kwartzlab
This is a deliberately eclectic mix of musical tracks, all of which are public domain or licenced under free culture licences. We hope you will find a few tracks that catch your fancy. All tracks can be downloaded in one convenient ZIPfile from the following location: http://sfdkw.dyn.theworkingcentre.org (Please respect our bandwidth. If you wish to distribute the zipfile to many other people please mirror it on a website of your own.)
"That's a plenty" by the Adovabadan Jazz Band
From the album "Adovabadan Jazz Band..."
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/album/75233/
Italian ragtimey piano jazz. I love the energy of this piece. I almost included "The Entertainer" on this sampler, but there are other ragtimey jazz pieces that are not quite as cliched. This album includes quite a few of them.
"Woodstock Blues" by the Bayou Trio
From the album "I Remember August"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/92184
Pretty much what it says on the tin. This track runs a little long for my taste, but it is mellow and easy on the ears.
"Hero of Light" by DEADBEATBLAST
Available from: http://archive.org/download/Best_of_8_Bit_Collective-2006-2011/Best_of_8_Bit_Collective-2006-2011.tar/Best_of_8_Bit_Collective_%288bc%29_%5B06-2006_to_06-2011%5D%2FDEADBEATBLAST%20-%20Hero%20Of%20Light.mp3
Chiptunes are this weird genre of music where artists constrain themselves to producing music from old video game consoles (often Nintendo Gameboys). The 8-bit collective site was a great repository of chiptunes, all licenced under BY-NC-SA licences. Sadly, this site went dead in 2011. But since the tracks were redistributable, many of them were uploaded to archive.org: http://archive.org/details/Best_of_8_Bit_Collective-2006-2011
Although not quite a pure chiptune, the voice samples on this track add a lot to its flavour. This tune flows well, has a nice melody, and is just about the right length. As a bonus, DEADBEATBLAST is a local artist who has organized chiptune-related events in the community.
"The Absolute" by Anitek
Froom the album "Anitek Instrumentals, vol 1"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/album/64662/
This is another mashup track. I like the combination of saxophone melody and drum track underlay. Anitek's schtick starts to wear over the course of an entire album, but each track is pretty good individually.
"Discount Store" by Dan Bryk
From the album "Discount Store"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a23027/discount-store
The jangly melody and cheery background vocals fool you into thinking this is a lighthearted pop song, until you listen to the lyrics. Grinding poverty ahoy!
"Perdue" by Overvince
From the album "Etincelle"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a51351/etincelle
This is classical folk guitar. I like it. I wish I knew more about classical folk guitar to tell you more about its strengths.
"Coffee" by Josh Woodward
From the album Sunny Side of the Street
Available from: http://www.joshwoodward.com/song/Coffee
A fun, frivolous song that captures how I often feel.
"Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 - 01 - I. Molto Allegro" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by: Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Album: Musopen Kickstarter Project
Licence: Public Domain
Many of us have heard this one before, but maybe that is the point. What is interesting about this track (and the entire album, which is also available on archive.org) is that Musopen.com funded this recording via a rather successful Kickstarter campaign. Crowdfunding is not a panacea for free culture or free software, but sometimes it works: people pay up front so that a work of free culture or free software can be created, and then it is released to the world. Unlike so many other free culture works, the artists get some financial compensation for their efforts.
As of this writing (September 2013), Musopen.com is running another Kickstarter campaign, this time to record the complete works of Frederic Chopin . If you would like to support free culture in a concrete way, you could do worse than contributing to these kinds of crowdfunding campaigns.
"Booty Boy and Serious Girl" by Jet Peks
From the album "Funk Me,Whatta Groovy Trip!!!" .
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/65458
Jet Peks is a Ukranian DJ who mashes up samples and danceable drumbeats. This tracks incorporates lots of different sounds, and flows together so well you won't notice.
"Fell so Groove" by Sound of Jack
From the album "Sound of Jack"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a2212/sound-of-jack
The charmingly misspelled title. The inane lyrics. The groove. The bass. The saxophone solo. Thank goodness disco is back! I wish I could like this track ironically, but instead I like it unapologetically.
"Scheherazade Symphonic Suite for Orchestra Op.35 - 02 - II. Lento" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Licence: Public domain
Classical music is one of the many, many things I am ignorant of in this world. Like other schoolchildren, I went on field trips to the symphony. I can recognise some famous classical pieces, such as the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But mostly I am ignorant.
Largely thanks to musopen.com, I am dipping my little pinky toe into the genre. The Scheherazade Symphonic Suite is one of my first adventures in downloading a title I had never heard of before, by a composer I had never heard of before. (However, he also wrote Flight of the Bumblebee, which I had heard of.) Thus far, my experience has been positive.
Unfortunately (?), this recording was mixed at a lower volume level than most of the other music on this sampler, so you will either have to use the equalizer function in your music player, or turn up the volume.
"Lonesome Like Me" by Lynn Russwurm
From the album "Singing My Songs"
Available from: http://lynn.russwurm.org/blogs/music/singing-my-songs/
Old-tyme country, performed by an old-tyme local country songwriter. This album has the distinction of being released commercially; here is a review. Higher-quality FLAC files are available from his website.
"Effigy - Rough" by Jophish
Available from: JophishEffigyRough.mp3
Another chiptune track from 8bc.org. The main melody of this one is deceptively simple, but for some reason it catches my ear every time I listen to it. I especially like the section three minutes into the track, when the pace slows a little.
This track was not preserved in the archive.org dump of 8bc.org, because it had not received enough upvotes. But since it was released under a Creative Commons licence, I am hosting it here. (Unfortunately, there is no evidence of this licence in the MP3 metadata of the track.)
"Japan" by SAMSHARA
From the album "Omega"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/album/60323/
I like the contrast between the sharp plucked tones of the main melody and the soft wash of sound in the "chorus". Overall I find the track calming.
"1812 Overture" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performed by: Skidmore College Orchestra
Licence: Public Domain
Maybe including Tchaikovsky on a music sampler is cliche, but I don't care. Not only do I like Tchaikovsky, but this recording by the Skidmore College Orchestra illustrates an important point: orchestras and musical groups already perform this music. By releasing their live recordings under free-culture-friendly licences, they enrich the commons for relatively little additional work. The Skidmore College Orchestra has released a number of works on musopen.com, and while the recording quality is not perfect, it tends to be good enough to be enjoyable. There is an argument to be made that this undermines proprietary commercial recordings, and that argument has merit. On the other hand, ignorant people like me get the opportunity to listen to a lot more classical music this way. Maybe more importantly, musopen.com releases sheet music into the public domain as well as recordings. This is a good combination: aspiring artists can use the recordings to assist in their interpretation of the sheet music.
Chased by a Cow" by Heifervescent
From the album "Hoofed and Dangerous"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/39953
Despite the name of this band and track (and album!), this is not a novelty group obsessed with cows. Rather, it's the solo project of one Andy Doran. The album is radio-friendly in the most complimentary sense of the term: it's got clever lyrics, catchy melodies, and a fun spirit. In addition to this bouncy track, I like the (less family-friendly) "Rational Behaviour".
"I'm Ready to Fly" by StrangeZero
From the Album "Future is a Choice You Make"
Available from: http://www.jamendo.com/album/83070/
I found this album while browsing the the Software Freedom Day FreeCultureDisc wikipage, another attempt to compile free culture for redistribution. I find this kind of dreamy electronic music a good listening choice while programming or writing; it is not so lyric-heavy that I get distracted from my task, but the occasional whispery lyric engages me when my productivity lulls. I like the funky baseline in the second section of this track.
If you are interested in discovering more free culture music, you might try:
- Following the links above to the linked artists and albums, and exploring their works further
Exploring artists in archive.org's Live Music Archive: http://archive.org/details/etree
Exploring tracks on http://dig.ccmixter.org
Exploring artists who have released free culture works from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Free_music
Listening to the (sadly, no longer updated) libre.fm podcast: http://s.libre.fm/podcast.rss