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Musopen releases high-quality, free classical music.
August 17, 2012 6:02 AM   Subscribe

Musopen, "a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving access and exposure to music by creating free resources and educational materials", have released upwards of 30 professionally performed and recorded classical works into the public domain. The new recordings are on their site listed under Goldberg Variations, Musopen Symphony Orchestra and Musopen String Quartet.

Their main catalogue lists a much wider range of music from a diverse range of sources, but suffers the same problem as other sites like archive.org, The European Archive: copyright-free, high quality recordings of even the most popular works are extremely hard to come by, and so the quality of available recordings varies wildly. (The Open Goldberg Project being a notable exception to this).

Their Kickstarter campaign (previously) raised seven times their target, allowing them to engage the Czech Symphony Orchestra to create these recordings and release them to the community.

The more musically inclined among you might be interested to note their Sheet music collection and their free music theory textbook project.
posted by metaBugs (11 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rise of the Masters has a free teaser and hilarious photos.
posted by mkb at 6:17 AM on August 17, 2012


Awesome, but only five pieces of sheet music from Bach? Some cellist better send them some sonatas!
posted by 3FLryan at 6:40 AM on August 17, 2012


One little pedantic point. I think they should be posting these with the CC0 license, and not the generic public domain mark. The public domain mark isn't really a legal contract; it's more of a technological marker for works known to already be in the public domain.

I work at Creative Commons.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would seem that since the composers are long dead, and since the recordings were made for hire by the musopen folks, there could not be any chance for confusion regarding their ability to release these recordings into the public domain.
posted by haykinson at 10:15 AM on August 17, 2012


3FLryan: Awesome, but only five pieces of sheet music from Bach?

Looks like the Goldberg Variation score was downloaded from IMSPL, I am pretty sure it is the Czerny second edition (1862?) which is in public domain.

Plenty of Bach for free download there.
posted by snaparapans at 10:18 AM on August 17, 2012


"One little pedantic point."

But it is a great point. I didn't know the distinction between the two and I regularly release into the public domain in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will be tricked into looking at one of my pics.
posted by bz at 10:48 AM on August 17, 2012


The need for copyright-free sound recordings is acute here in the USA, where (contrary to what some websites will tell you) the only recordings in the public domain are the ones that have been explicitly placed there. No sound recording will be old enough to fall into the US public domain until 2067. I should only live so long (but probably won't.)
posted by in278s at 12:47 PM on August 17, 2012


This is so terrific, I wish I knew about the kickstarter, would have totally put some cash into it than that. There's so much great music out there begging for decent, CC recording.

No sound recording will be old enough to fall into the US public domain until 2067. I should only live so long (but probably won't.)

What a fucking travesty. Of course, by then it'll probably be 3067.
posted by smoke at 1:22 AM on August 18, 2012


No sound recording will be old enough to fall into the US public domain until 2067.

What is the relevant law for sound recordings in the US?
posted by Gyan at 3:27 AM on August 18, 2012


What is the relevant law for sound recordings in the US?

IANAL, but I've read up a bit on this.

Copyright Act of 1976
Copyright Term Extension Act

Briefly, the 1976 act provides that pre-1972 sound recordings are not covered by federal copyright, but state, local and common-law protections are still in effect. Pre-1972 recordings would have entered the public domain in 2047, but the later extension act (commonly called the Sonny Bono Act) tacked on another 20 years.

NB: we're talking about just the recording itself. If it's a recording of a musical or literary work, that has its own copyright.

There's a move to federalize copyright in older sound recordings. It's a good idea, but I don't know if it's doable, politically.
posted by in278s at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2012


This is amazing, thanks! Their other music seems to be rated on a five-star scale, so that may help find the better-quality recordings.
posted by raf at 9:17 PM on August 18, 2012


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