Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Entertainment

Project To Turn Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music Completed 290

Posted by samzenpus
from the music-of-the-masses dept.
yourlord writes "Just under two years ago Musopen launched a Kickstarter campaign covered here on Slashdot. Today that project is complete with the release of a large amount of classical recordings into the public domain. This brings an extensive collection of high quality classical music into the public domain. The project music is hosted on the Musopen site, and on archive.org."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Project To Turn Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music Completed

Comments Filter:
  • It was me! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garglebutt (766885) on Friday August 17, 2012 @12:44AM (#41020187)
    I invested in this. Great idea to set music free. Enjoy the downloads.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Me too! Best $$ I've ever spent for music I think.

    • by mattr (78516)

      Thank you! How wonderful. I see one recording has five stars and downloaded it. Though I didn't know the title or composer of course I knew the beautiful song as soon as it started streaming from my laptop.. Morning from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46. What a great project, kudos to you too!

    • Me too. 1st work was one of my favorites, Brahms - Symphony No 2 in D major.
  • Nicely done! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Friday August 17, 2012 @12:44AM (#41020191) Journal
    Fantastic. Now let's do it again until more classical works are liberated. And visit their "donate" button.
    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      I might be persuaded to donate if there wasnt coughing and other noise in moonlight sonata
      • Re:Nicely done! (Score:5, Informative)

        by CrashandDie (1114135) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:27AM (#41020391)

        Indeed. I remember the kickstart project and all, and how the project went from "With a few grand we can do this" to "Oh wow, we've got 7 times what we asked for, let's do more".

        I don't think they should've done more than they originally set out, they should've increased the planned quality. What I mean by that is that it is likely the initial budget they asked for was way too low, anyway, for what they wanted to do.

        Indeed, the quality of the recordings is poor, at best, and there are a great number of mistakes in the performances. Yet none of those care, because for maybe one of the first times, there are actual, recent recordings in the public domains. But coughing? Seriously?

        Anyway, I'd like for MusOpen to take this chance to also distribute the works in the raw format they have, or .wav, or any other kind of lossless format, preferably not encumbered by patents or licensing issues. I'll even go ahead and offer a lot of bandwidth to help MusOpen achieve that goal.

        • Re:Nicely done! (Score:4, Informative)

          by Rockoon (1252108) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:32AM (#41020425)

          Yet none of those care, because for maybe one of the first times, there are actual, recent recordings in the public domains. But coughing? Seriously?

          Seriously.. 1st movement, after playing begins.. a cough...

          Apparently its someones recital.. sounds like a tape player is used to record it.. where you can even hear the noise of the spinning tape...

          • Re:Nicely done! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:09AM (#41020585)

            the ones they recorded are performed by "Musopen Symphony Orchestra" [musopen.org]

            everything else on their site is a crapshoot from other sources.

          • Seriously.. 1st movement, after playing begins.. a cough...

            Please quite whining, go get a sound editor and edit it out. It's easy and that's exactly what a big label would do.

            • by mug funky (910186)

              they'd likely have recorded 2 or more performances as well. between all of them a cough can be got rid of without the digital spectral scar that a surgical editor would leave behind.

              though with a skilled operator, you can fix things and leave no sign at all behind. usually the music gets a bit fudgy though - best splice in something clean and make sure tempos match (in this day and age, an orchestra such as this should have earphones with click-tracks or something similar - conductors can get carried away

              • by drkim (1559875)

                This can be done by looking at the audio spectrum and 'healing' just the area of the cough. Not hard. (Adobe Audition)

              • in this day and age, an orchestra such as this should have earphones with click-tracks or something similar - conductors can get carried away

                You are quite the comedian, aren't you? But decent commentary on the sound editing. It's hardly rocket science.

            • No it isn't (Score:4, Informative)

              by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday August 17, 2012 @04:29AM (#41021349)

              Sound editors aren't magic, you can't take a bad performance and make it great, and you can't edit out systemic noise like wow and flutter from a tape. You also can't edit out a sound from under another sound, without major audible artifacts.

              What a big label would do is go and use better quality equipment to record the track. It isn't even that expensive these days. Then they would record multiple takes as necessary and edit those together.

              Hell forget big labels, this is what a university recording studio would do. It is not too much to ask that if the idea is to get "open" replacements to professional music that a professional job of it is done.

              • Re:No it isn't (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @08:40AM (#41022473)

                What a big label would do is go and use better quality equipment to record the track. It isn't even that expensive these days. Then they would record multiple takes as necessary and edit those together.

                You are correct, I've actually played in professional orchestra's and solo piano performances that had been professionally recorded. Usually you play the song through a few times normally then someone, usually a conductor picks a few spots where mistakes were made. You then start the song a few measures before the mistake to let allow the acoustics and such play out as they recorded it again. Then some poor editor spends hours and hours piecing it back together the good parts and adjusting levels. Neither experience is very fun, after awhile all parties get sick of the song but the quality is there.

                That all said there's something special and beautiful about mistakes and imperfections, its what makes a live concert better than listening to the recording and professional recordings of them kind of squeeze some of that magic out for the sake of perfection.

        • Re:Nicely done! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Swistak (899225) on Friday August 17, 2012 @03:58AM (#41021177) Homepage
          wav is not only losless format. Files are distrubuted also in m4f and flac ( http://thepiratebay.se/torrent/7536456/2012_Musopen_Kickstarter_Project_%5BFLAC%5D [thepiratebay.se] ) Quality of recordings done by kickstarter campaign is excellent. And there was poll amongst backers what to do with money. I as one of backers (overwheliming majority) decided we want to have more music with good quality, then one or two tracks with perfect quality. If you want perfect recording from best orchestra in the world, go and buy it on dvd.
        • You can get the full ProTools files, with umpteen mics, if you want to. The project made them available as a torrent (quite a long time ago actually - the mixing took time, and apparently wasn't as good as it could have been). It's still superpermissively licensed, so you can fix it up yourself if you want to.

          I assure you all non-live classical recordings have similar fix ups.

          Aaron Dunn asked the contributors many times during the project how he should go at it - big name orchestra, or solid low-cost easter

      • Re:Nicely done! (Score:4, Informative)

        by anom (809433) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:46AM (#41020481)

        From my understanding the moonlight sonata wasn't even one of the pieces performed by the orchestra in the kickstarter campaign? It isn't listed at any of the links in the article. Musopen compiles a bunch of different music from many sources and so some if it is complete crap, but my impression was that the point of this project was to get some better recordings of a select group of pieces.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          you could play moonlight sonata on an iphone with no musical training. it's not the most complex of tracks.

          which isn't to say it's not beautiful. just simple, like an Italian meal.

          • you could play moonlight sonata on an iphone with no musical training.

            I'd like to see that. Maybe you could play a few bars of the most famous part.

          • by olau (314197)

            you could play moonlight sonata on an iphone with no musical training. it's not the most complex of tracks.

            You could, but it would sound so much better with a professional pianist with the right equipment. :)

          • by Alioth (221270)

            The third movement, too?

    • Re:Nicely done! (Score:5, Informative)

      by c0lo (1497653) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:21AM (#41020359)

      And visit their "donate" [musopen.org] button.

      FTFY (rationale: I read some comments indicating some have difficulties in finding their way on the site).

    • by BenJury (977929)
      Looks impressive. I do wonder why they don't add the ability to download the music via bittorrent. I know its available else where, but why not via the actual site? Surly that could cut the cost of hosting and thus would let people contribute to the project in a way other than cash?
  • by rueger (210566) * on Friday August 17, 2012 @12:47AM (#41020199) Homepage
    The great weakness with this is that the value of sheet music is in the edition. Just as books benefit from a good editor, so does music.

    My girlfriend has a music degree, and is an accomplished teacher of piano. She pulls her hair out whenever a student shows up with something downloaded from the Internet, or even worse, one of those oddball cheap Chinese editions. How the music is edited really does affect how it is played.

    Aside from that, it's weird that the music listings aren't by composer. Do these folks not know how many "String Quartets in C major" have been written?
    • by symbolset (646467) * on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:02AM (#41020283) Journal

      The composition has to be a relatively ancient edit to qualify for public domain status in the performed work.

      At the bottom you will see the option to filter by composer.

      And of course you're welcome to repeat the effort if this one doesn't suit your standard. In the meantime the rest of us will set about setting our slideshows, presentations, home movies and youtube clips to this public domain classical music.

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:18AM (#41020355) Journal

        In the meantime the rest of us will set about setting our slideshows, presentations, home movies and youtube clips to this public domain classical music.

        And probably will get it taken down or muted because Youtube's filter system isn't smart enough to know the difference.

        • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:54AM (#41020787)

          All the better, enough complaints that legitimate music has been blocked may perhaps force them to come up with a better system.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          i think google would do well to release a (reasonably feature-complete) video editor for the purpose of embedding it's clips with metadata in case it's filter fails.

          it would be very nice to be able to use whatever you want and get warned about possible filterage beforehand - and override it with relevant citations, right there in your editor's media bin.

          also, the tightars- uhm, FOSS world needs a good video editor. blender's sequence editor is the best there is and it's a piece of shit - completely inadequ

          • by pjt33 (739471)

            I tried just about every non-linear video editor I could find in the Ubuntu package repository a couple of years ago and settled on Kdenlive. I didn't realise Blender had one, though. What does Blender's do better?

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:08AM (#41020303) Journal

      It's weird that the article doesn't link to the Homepage of the project [musopen.org] or at least to the main music browsing page [musopen.org] which features, besides others, a list of composers to select from.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Aside from that, it's weird that the music listings aren't by composer. Do these folks not know how many "String Quartets in C major" have been written?

      Here's some assistance for the vision/browsing impaired [musopen.org] - pick your criterion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by darkfeline (1890882)
      Indeed. I've been using Lilypond for a while now, and when you actually arrange and play your own music, you are enlightened to all the little details that unconsciously distract or help you. But note that it also depends on the person to a certain degree as well, e.g. some people just happen to read music written one way better.
    • If by "great weakness with this" you mean, "inherent problem with the Internet, which focused, thoughtful projects by people who care about quality - like this one right here - are solving", then sure, I agree with you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      You think the weakness is the quality of the sheetmusic? Did you actually listen to any of the performances? For example, see if you can listen to the first movement of Beethoven's fifth here [musopen.org], without cringing. People are out of tune, off beat, and at times sound like they are overwhelmed by the difficulty of the piece (listen at 1:19, the horns don't have a consistent tone, sound squeaky at times, with the strings in the background poorly articulating their notes, some of the instruments are out of tune, a
      • by Vintermann (400722) on Friday August 17, 2012 @04:20AM (#41021301) Homepage

        The Beethoven's fifth you linked to is performed by a small town college orchestra, not the Musopen Symphony Orchestra (really the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, but I don't know if Musopen are allowed to say that in advertising!). Anyone can contribute to Musopen - you'll even find midi keyboard renditions there. It's better than nothing, is Musopen's philosophy.

        During the Kickstarter, Aaron Dunn wrote to us and we discussed extensively whether we should get a few works by a "big name" orchestra, or several from a less-known one. We did blind listening tests, too.

        You still have the option to pay money to hear Bernstein's interpretations. In fact, you probably will always have to pay money to hear Bernstein's interpretations, the way copyrights are being extended... but now you also have the option of hearing some solid renditions of Brahms symphonies by a professional Czech orchestra, for free. For ever.

    • by deek (22697) on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:23AM (#41020643) Homepage Journal

      I've never had a problem with using urtext sheet music; by definition, untouched by an editor. Your girlfriend should have no problem with students that show up with urtext copies, many of which are freely available on the internet. She is a teacher, so should help them to interpret the piece which is played, not play along with the interpretation of some editor. Besides, interpretation can be a very subjective thing; I've often disagreed with edited music and the changes they've made to the original piece. Then again, I've been known to disagree with the original composer, preferring to play dynamics in my own way, or to go with a staccato feel, rather than the legato that's marked on the music, or change a dozen other possible things you can when playing music.

      In that way, editing music is very much different to editing a book. You can't play around with written passages the way you can with music. Music is much more open to interpretation and change. It's why it is so fascinating listening to different performers play the same piece of music, and not so interesting listening to the same prose read by different people.

      • I've never had a problem with using urtext sheet music; by definition, untouched by an editor...

        Not bad post, especially considering the nonsense you responded to, however... you're not right about the definition of urtext. Perhaps you have not heard of Wiener Urtext Edition? [wiener-urtext.com] And by the way, I always play from urtext when I can get it. It is very definitely an edition.

    • by dbc (135354) on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:24AM (#41020651)

      hmmm.... I found a page for sheet music listed by composer, and the search function will hit on composer names.

      As to editions, my daughter plays violin, so yeah, I understand the edition issue -- editing is huge with string instruments because the editor usually puts in bowings and sometimes suggested fingerings. But in the case of one Pablo de Sarasate piece that I looked up, it looked like the sheet music was a scan of an out-of-copyright edition from a prominent 19th Century German publisher. So the edition question probably hangs on what they managed to find where the copyright hasn't been kept up. Anyway, that's my one data point, so this being slashdot and all, one data point seems more than sufficient to jump to a conclusion. Excessive, even.

      Aside about editions: my daughter is currently studying the Bach sonatas and partitas for violin -- the edition our teacher recommended has both edited music in modern (OK, 80 or so year old) engraving and a facsimile of the original manuscript. It is interesting to look at the differences -- the original was very spare in terms of even the most basic articulations. I wonder if the Musopen project will be scanning facsimiles? For serious students being able to compare editions not only to each other but to the original manuscript is useful and sometimes important.

    • The great weakness with this is that the value of sheet music is in the edition. Just as books benefit from a good editor, so does music. My girlfriend has a music degree, and blah blah blah drivel drivel [appeal to authority]...

      Well I have a music degree and I just read through a good chunk of the Goldberg variations and I am pleased with the quality of it. I will print it out and enjoy playing it. As for your Slashdot post, I would respectfully ask you to refrain from further damaging your own credibility with respect to this subject, of which you are by all appearances completely ignorant.

    • Editions typeset in Lilypond are usually very good. They're almost always better than the stuff musicians print out from Finale from their own purposes, and they're on average better than professionally set editions printed today. Old editions can measure up well, but new ones, not so much IMO.

  • Nothing puts me in the right frame of mind for some serious coding than classical music. Can't wait to check this one out.
    • Nothing puts me in the right frame of mind for some serious coding than classical music. Can't wait to check this one out.

      Different strokes for different folks. I prefer video game music and VG remixes, eg: Stuff from Rainwave and OCR. [rainwave.cc]
      Sometimes just environmental electro. I "graduated" from classical when I was a teen, just got burned out on the same tunes and themes.

      One thing I have found is that few coders I know prefer lyrics in their programming music...

      Oh, and before you think I've abandoned that great orchestral sound altogether, right now I'm listening to the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Skeet: Legen [youtube.com]

      • Right on bro...whatever does it for you. When I listen to music with lyrics or something really intense I focus more on the music than the task at hand. But yeah, it's good to mix it up a bit sometime to keep things interesting.
  • by LordLucless (582312) on Friday August 17, 2012 @12:50AM (#41020215)

    I thought the recording industry had definitively proved that if you didn't assert copyrights, there was no possible way for the starving artists* to be compensated for their hard work, and it would spell the end of recorded music?

    * all artists are starving. That's why they look good in music videos.

    • * all artists are starving. That's why they look good in music videos.

      I thought it was because they regularly vomit in the bathroom, take a lot of laxatives, and eat adderall like it's candy...

    • You realize that since this is classical music that the composers are dead, right? So this whole starving thing is a bit off topic...
    • by metacell (523607)

      * all artists are starving. That's why they look good in music videos.

      Meatloaf?

  • FLAC (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @12:55AM (#41020235)

    Unfortunately, Musopen provided the content in Apple lossless format instead of a widely used, open, non-patent-encumbered format such as FLAC. Plus, the official torrent contains a single gigantic zip file.

    There is a torrent containing all 145 separate tracks in FLAC format here:
    http://pirateproxy.net/torrent/7536456/2012_Musopen_Kickstarter_Project_[FLAC]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The ALAC decoder and encoder is opensource under the Apache 2.0 license, which essentially grants a world wide cost free and irrevocable* patent license in addition to the copyright license for the code itself.

      Claiming ALAC is patent encumbered is just plain bullshit, since patent licenses are granted free of charge. Claiming ALAC is not open is also clearly pure bullshit as the reference encoder and decoder is freely available.

      * Unless you decide to sue Apple for patent infringement, in which case your lic

  • For those looking (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:09AM (#41020307)

    the torrent link is: http://archive.org/download/musopen-lossless-dvd/musopen-lossless-dvd_archive.torrent

  • Last time I checked them (about 2 months ago), most of their music was in rather poor quality - lots of background noise, soundproofing issues and although I am not a music expert, the performance seemed lacking somewhat.

    • If you heard these works two months ago, you

      1. are a contributer to the kickstarter, and
      2. what you were listening to was the raw, unedited ProTools files. They were all that was available then (to backers only, I believe).

      Maybe you're confusing this with all the other works on Musopen. They have widely varying quality, as anyone can contribute.

  • by guttentag (313541) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:22AM (#41020365) Journal
    If you browse the music [musopen.org] by composer, the list starts with Dvorak, Antonin... then Albaniz, Isaac and all the composers whose last names start with A... then Bach and the Bs... Chaliapin and the Cs... It looks familiar but not quite what we're accustomed to... like something is slightly off. Whoever created the list must have been using a Dvorak keyboard!
  • Possibly the project's initial goals were completed, but that's hardly what springs to mind when one hears the phrase in the context of the classical repertoire.

    That said, I'm listening to Eroica, and it actually ain't bad.

    WRT the print edition quality, most world-class musicians prefer autograph scores. Heavily edited scores are more suited for amateur performers. An exception is Sussmayer's version of Mozart's Requiem, which has a lot of rough spots, and is usually performed from later fixed up vers
  • by guttentag (313541) on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:29AM (#41020675) Journal
    To quote Annie Hall [imdb.com]:

    Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

    Reading the criticisms levied against the site is like listening to those two elderly women who just like to complain: "Boy, the music at this place is really terrible." "Yeah, I know; and there isn't nearly enough of it!"

    I think quantity needed to be more important than quality for this project. Sure, they need to have a minimum standard of quality, but the idea was to free as much music as possible. Some kid somewhere in the world would never have heard this music because he's not going to pay $1.29 for some music he's never heard (that they're not playing on the radio) and the sheet music isn't exactly jumping off the page to ensnare his imagination. However, something that's well-written and decently-performed on this site may get his attention and maybe someday he'll perform a better version and give back to us all. But that won't ever happen if he never hears it. That first exposure is key.

    The first time I heard Scheherazade [musopen.org] it was in a movie (The Man With One Red Shoe). I didn't know what it was, but it got my attention. I was about seven. Years later I came across it again as a track that was tacked onto a $3 budget classical CD, and it got my attention again. I suggested it to the orchestra director in my high school and hundreds of people got to hear it. It's all about the exposure.

    If you want to be a snob about the quality, go pay for a performance and share it with the rest of us so we won't have to live our lives not knowing what good music sounds like. Frankly, I prefer the Scheherazade recording on that budget CD to any I've found on iTunes. The first performance of a piece is often the one you like best, because it's the one you fell in love with. I have a very old recording of Stokowski and the NY Philharmonic performing Stravinsky's Firebird suite [musopen.org] that is full of hiss and crackle, but I prefer it over a clean-sounding recording of Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic performing the same piece. Bernstein's performance, which is well-done, just doesn't sound urgent enough to me because I heard Stokowski's first. Perhaps what you're really concerned about is the possibility that the masses may come to prefer a version other than what you like.

    There's still a lot to be added, so go ahead and donate [musopen.org]. Sure, they've got Stravinsky's Firebird, but not The Rite of Spring. The Rite of Spring was so radical and jarring to the ears of the "more cultured representatives of society" at its 1913 premiere in Paris that the audience began yelling so loudly no one could hear the music. Eventually the scene devolved into chairs being thrown and fires set. So go ahead, throw your chairs at this new site in disgust because it doesn't agree with your notion of how the music should sound. The music that stripped away the cultured veneer of those Parisans is worth hearing, and a public domain music site that so-ruffled the feathers of the "free-as-in-beer" and "information wants to be free" slashdot crowd is worth visiting.

    • by sowth (748135)

      Eventually the scene devolved into chairs being thrown...

      Microsoft was invited to the party? I didn't know they were around in 1913.

    • by metacell (523607)

      I wonder what those people said when they first heard of the Linux kernel...

      "What crap is this? It only handles the most basic of hardware and has almost no optimisations!"
      "Who's going to use that? It's just a kernel, there's nothing you can run on it!"
      "Who needs this 'Linux' when there's Minix?"

  • by heikkile (111814) on Friday August 17, 2012 @03:17AM (#41020901) Homepage

    It is really good to have music in the free. But it could be organized better. I tired to search for "Locatelli", a baroque composer I know a little about. The first hit found a "piece" with a headline "Battista, Locatelli & J.S Bach - Concetos". What passes for a comment for the music is some details about Vivaldi's life, and under that is a composer Bio, also of Vivaldi. The "piece" consists of four parts, starting with a Concerto Grosso by Vivaldi, followed by Pergolesi, something by Bach, and finally a single movement of a Locatelli concerto. Last there is a fact box that lists Vivaldi as the composer, and fails to mention anything about the performer or period...

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday August 17, 2012 @03:57AM (#41021161)
    http://www.blockmrecords.org/bach/ [blockmrecords.org] Played by James Kibbie, and as a quote from the website: "This project is sponsored by the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, with generous support from Dr. Barbara Furin Sloat in honor of J. Barry Sloat, and with additional support from the Office of Vice-President for Research, the University of Michigan."
  • by StripedCow (776465) on Friday August 17, 2012 @04:31AM (#41021371)

    Perhaps we can now start a project to match new popular music against this database, and figure out that all new music is just a shameless copy/basic rewrite of existing classical music.

  • Enjoy! [musopen.org]

    I should have backed this.

  • Thanks from Musopen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aarondunn (2710233) on Friday August 17, 2012 @11:18AM (#41024111)
    To everyone posting here, thank you all for the donations and thoughts. It was a long and challenging project but I am very proud of the end result. I'm considering a second project, if anyone is interested in hearing about it in the next couple of weeks, please make sure to follow us on Twitter/FB/our blog etc: https://twitter.com/ajdunn83 [twitter.com] or /musopen or our blog at blog.musopen.org Thanks again, Aaron Dunn Musopen.org

Do not simplify the design of a program if a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

Working...