Thursday, 9 August 2012

Free Symphony Recordings from Musopen Ready

I've written before about Musopen's worthy Kickstarter campaign to hire a symphony orchestra to record symphonies that would then be released into the Public Domain, meaning free to download, listen to, modify, and re-use. After two years of waiting, the music is finally available. Head to the Internet Archive and search for "Musopen Kickstarter." At the moment, at least, the files are zipped folders with the music in either of two formats, one lossless and the other lossy but still high-quality MP3's (320 kbps). The zip archives are 7.5 GB and 2.2 GB respectively. As I write this, I am downloading the smaller of the two.

Update: The zip archive unpacks into these folders:
The symphonies are by the Czech National Orchestra, identified on the Musopen site as "The Musopen Symphony Orchestra." That is fair enough, according to the ancient rule that he who pays the piper calls the tune. Similarly, the string quartets are by the Musopen String Quartet. Bach's "Goldberg Variations" are performed by Shelley Katz. In all, there are 144 music files representing 16 hours 22 minutes of music.

I have also written before about the wonderful music collection that once existed at I learned this week that much of its music has been preserved at the Internet Archive because of the "Wayback Machine," which provides archival copies of the entire World Wide Web. Here is a quotation about that from the Archive's blog:
Much of the collection, from before they were sued into a unrecognizable form, was archived, but frankly is not easy to browse in the Wayback Machine.  Hopefully we will fix that in the future.
One more tidbit from the Internet Archive's blog: the Musopen music, like about 1.5 million other files on the archive, can now be downloaded through Bittorrent. There's a link on each page giving that option as well as a standard file download through the browser. The torrent seems to be faster for me than the other, so you may want to give it a try.

Update 16 Aug 2012: German pianist Kimiko Ishizaka (though the nationality and the name may not seem to match, both are accurate), who released a recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations into the public domain through the Open Goldberg Variations, has a new Kickstarter campaign for another worthy project. She's trying to raise a modest amount of money towards performances  of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier in Cologne, Vienna, London, and several American cities, in which she will polish her interpretation of the work. At the conclusion of the tour, she will record it and release the recording into the public domain. If you would like to contribute, there is a little time left: The fundraising will be complete on Tuesday Aug 21, 8:00pm EDT.

I am grateful for her contributions to free culture so far, and would like to support further ones.

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