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cheyenne_h on 03/05/2015 at 04:45PM

Who Will Remaster the Masters?

original image from Wikimedia Commons

Ever thought Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” would be better as a speed-metal guitar solo? Or perhaps Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” would sound great performed by a kazoo-and-firecracker ensemble? What about “In The Hall of the Mountain King” as a chiptune odyssey?

Great ideas, right?! We know.

We want these things to exist. And we need your help in this Masters Remastered Challenge!

First, choose a composition from the public domain. If you’re stumped (or can’t remember the original name of the composition), check the list below for some ideas. Though you can find sheet music in a variety of places, we recommend the Petrucci Music Library, which indicates public domain status of its contents. Entries will be released back into the public domain with a CC0 license, so that others can use them, too. But make these your own. Remix them, play them with instruments the composers couldn’t have dreamed of, make them as long or short as you want. Do as many (or as few) as you please.

Here are some recommended pieces you can extract from, re-work, play backwards, etc, that are in the US public domain. We've included links to the sheet music and at least one downloadable file that you can riff on:

BachToccata & Fugue - listen here - archive.org - wikimedia
BeethovenSymphony no. 9: Ode to Joy - listen here - wikimedia - freesound
BizetToreador Song - listen here - wikimedia - archive.org
GriegIn The Hall of the Mountain King - listen here - freepd - wikimedia
OffenbachOrpheus in the Underworld - listen here - wikimedia
PonichelliDance of the Hours - listen here - wikimedia (BY-SA)
RossiniWilliam Tell Overture - listen here - wikimedia
Tchaikovsky1812 Overture - listen here - wikimedia
WagnerRide of the Valkyries - listen here - archive.org

If you submit a song that isn’t on the list, please make sure it is in the public domain before you proceed. Submissions that are not in the public domain in the U.S. won't qualify for judging.

We'll accept entries from March 9 until April 3, 2015

One winner will be chosen by our panel of judges, and they will win a Moog Etherwave Theremin and a "Classical As F*ck" shirt from Le Poisson Rouge

The Masters Remastered Challenge is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

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cheyenne_h on 02/19/2015 at 09:00AM

Radio Free Culture #37: Playing in the Public Domain with Nicky Case

image courtesy of Nicky Case, from the Coming Out Simulator

WFMU and the Free Music Archive are proud to present a new season of Radio Free Culture, a weekly podcast exploring issues at the intersection of digital culture and the arts. 

In this episode, Cheyenne Hohman, RFC host and current Director of the FMA, spoke with Nicky Case, a game developer who has chosen to license everything under CC0, a 'public domain' license available via Creative Commons. We talked about recent work, including the Coming Out Simulator, the Parable of the Polygons, the Public Domain Jam, and more! 

Check out the podcast on WFMUPRX, or subscribe to the Radio Free Culture via iTunes, or listen right here: 

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ange on 12/30/2013 at 03:00PM

Some Auld Lang Synes For You

Since the classic New Years Eve toasting tune Auld Lang Syne is in the public domain (unlike a certain other celebratory song), many of our Free Music Archive artists have shared their own unique versions for you to download and enjoy. Cheers to that!

The phrase "Auld Lang Syne" literally translates into "Old Long Since" but is meant to mean something like "days gone by" or "long, long ago."

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you'll buy your pint cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

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ange on 04/30/2013 at 03:53PM

Revitalize Music Contest: The Winning Song

For this month's Revitalize Music Contest, artists from Lisbon to Austin dug through public domain songs, got inspired, and submitted their creations to our contest repository. Our talented judges from the music, radio, and public domain worlds loved hearing the wide range of incredible entries, but eventually had to select a winning song.

OUR WINNER IS CROWN THE INVISIBLE

Crown the Invisible created an incredible power pop rendition of the 1911 revenge anthem "The Spaniard That Blighted My Life" by Billy Merson. The song tells the story of a man whose girl is charmed away by a Spanish bullfighter.

'Twas at the bull fight where we met him
We'd been watching his daring display
And while I went out for some nuts and a programme
The dirty dog stole her away

The band's been around for about a year, and are a blend between a studio compositional project and a raucous psychedelic band. They are all grizzled rock dudes who live and work in East Williamsburg warehouses, where they've been cultivating their space/stoner rock sound. They describe their band as "if Rick Wakeman played with Ride, but the songs were written by The Pretty Things while they watched Planet of the Apes and listened to Hawkwind." That is to say, they all grew up on early '90s and '60s British stuff.

TAKING A SONG FROM 1911 AND MAKING IT SOUND 2013

When the band began working on their arrangement they describe the process as "vibe hunting." There was a lot of stomping and clapping involved, which is how they ended up deciding to keep the waltzy 3/4 time signature without over-emphasizing it. This also how they found the song's distinctive sound, a swirling whistle made by playing a hammond organ sample on a keyboard through a guitar amp.

During this process, singer CG Foisy says he kept waking up in the middle of the night with the lyrics stuck in his head. He says it's a terrible song to have in your head because, "it's cheeky, evil and weird. It's a portal into male territoriality. How men are these vindictive monkeys."

Overall, the challenge was good practice for the band. This summer CG is traveling to Beijing, where he'll play a few shows, and then spend a week traveling the silk road looking for music along the way. What he finds will eventually be adapted into song challenges for the band. Whenever he travels, CG loves to pick up a new instrument. You can even hear (kinda) one of these instruments in the winning song. It's an Indian instrument he bought in Singapore called the gopichand. It sounds part sitar, part mouth harp.

Participating in the contest speaks to the bands' interests in being part of a community through their music. Some bands get really into making an album, then going on tour, then making another album, then going on another tour, and hoping to be signed by a label. CG says, "That works well for some bands, but other bands like to take on weekly assignments, making videos and vignettes, and to have different kinds of conversations with their fans."

Crown the Invisible includes Jared Barron, CG Foisy, Steve Schwadron, with a guest appearance in this recording by Gabriel Berezin on bass. Check out their summer series Fantastic Planet, which installs different bands in different warehouses, merging live noise rock with visuals. You can also see them play live on May 9th at Don Pedro (90 Manhattan Avenue), where they might be performing their winning song.


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ange on 04/23/2013 at 08:44AM

The Revitalize Music Contest

Carrier Belleuse Pierre La Maison De Musique (Public Domain)

Bring the public domain into the future! This April, WFMU and the Free Music Archive are challenging artists everywhere to create new recordings and contemporary arrangements of historic compositions available in the public domain. We’re calling this our Revitalize Music Contest.

Every song (except for perhaps "Happy Birthday") will someday fall out of copyright. Archives such as the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library, Musopen and the Public Domain Information Project chart the vast and ever-expanding troves of public domain music. Participants in our Revitalize Music Contest will help bring these works to life by creating new recordings, and feeding them back into the public domain.

To inspire entries, we’ve handpicked a selection of out-of-copyright songs with compelling lyrics, beautiful melodies, and unusual stories. Keep in mind that unless materials are listed in our contest repository, the recordings of performances we link to are still within the scope of copyright. After learning about the songs and contest rules here below, you can browse our pool of entries.


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