Open Music Archive

The UK based Open Music Archive … is a collaborative project, initiated by artists Eileen Simpson & Ben White, to source, digitise and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings. The archive is open for anyone to use and contribute to.

I’ve long been fascinated by old recordings for a couple of reasons: The pure fascination with history and the fact that old recordings can often be safely used in remixes as the Open Music Archives’s about page describes:

“Under copyright law, a music recording has two automatically assigned property rights: A musical composition has a property right and a recording has a separate and independent property right. These property rights are limited by term. In the UK, the term of copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is limited to the life of the author plus 70 years, while the term of copyright in a sound recording is limited to 50 years from the date of recording. The archive attempts to gather recordings and information about recordings whose proprietary interests have expired and make them accessible to a wider public.

Artists Ben White & Eileen Simpson have initiated this project following a series of projects which involved researching and gathering music which has fallen out of copyright. Much of this music, although legally in the public domain, is tied to physical media (for example gramophone records) and locked away in archives or private collections which are not widely accessible. The Open Music Archive aims to digitise as much of this music as possible in order to free it from the constraints of a physical collection.”

Disclaimer: Copyright law varies between jurisdictions, and I’m not a lawyer, so mentioning this or other sources of audio materials here is not intended to be legal advice.

Freesound – sound sample collection

For music makers, one of the great sources for sounds is the Freesound Project. From the “what is freesound?” page: “The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, … released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. The Freesound Project provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to

* browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a ‘sounds-like’ type of browsing and more
* up and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license
* interact with fellow sound-artists!”

A remarkable resource. Where else could you find a recording of a tire being rolled around on sandy pavement?

The Old Time Radio Network

A pretty amazing collection of old radio programs – I think pretty much from the US only: OTR.Network Library (The Old Time Radio Network): “The OTR.Network Library is a free resource for Old Time Radio (OTR) fans. We have over 12,000 OTR shows available for instant listening, with 100 more added each week.” An excerpt from their Legal Notices page: “… We believe that the copyrights of the Old Time Radio shows we host on this site have expired. …”

One of my favorites has to be this great American comedy classic from Abbot and Costello recorded in 1947. Note, that the link leads to a realmedia audio file, so you’ll need a thus capable player or conversion utility. Start playback at around 22:22 for the sketch in question. Just before that a lengthy advertisement for a certain well known brand of cigarettes. How times have changed!

Disclaimer: Copyright law varies between jurisdictions, and I’m not a lawyer, so mentioning this or other sources of audio materials here is not intended to be legal advice.