Free Culture

As an artist, I think it is important both to create and to give to the community. Ideas don’t come out of thin air, they come from the individual interpretations of everyone in the community. As those interpretations get shuffled back and forth, rethought, and reinterpreted, the state of culture is advanced. I would love to make money while doing it. However, credit is often as important as currency. Sometimes, the idea is even more important. So here are some of the sites I visit both as resources and as inspirations to give back to the community.

Creative Commons
A site devoted to promoting alternatives to the “All Rights Reserved” copyright. I don’t always live up to that idea, but I try as best I can.
Project Gutenberg
A site devoted to bringing public domain books to the internet
Free audiobooks that are considered public domain in the USA.
An organization devoted to preserving culture by recording the stories of individuals all across the USA.
International Music Score Library Project
Just as it says, a site devoted to making music available to everyone. I haven’t dug very deeply into this site. However, it’s primary focus, as expected, appears to be classical music, the music most likely to be found in the public domain.
Musical scores are primarily provided as PDF’s. It’s a good format. However, if the layout of the format doesn’t work for the display device of your choice, you’re out of luck.
Recordings are available as well and range from MIDI files to MP3’s to full video. It’s a great way to become familiar with a new song before digging in and learning it.
IMSLP Journal
This is the companion site to the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP). So far, it looks like a good blog to follow.
Another music score project. This one seems to be a bit newer than IMSLP and has a correspondingly smaller library. Again, the music is mostly classical.
In addition to providing scores in PDF and postscript, Mutopia provides scores in the LilyPond markup format. You’re not “supposed” to read this directly. Instead, you would use LilyPond to convert the file into a PDF or similar format. And with not too much effort, you could optimize a score for viewing from a laptop or a tablet.
Recordings are limited to MIDI which is adequate for getting an idea of what the song is supposed to sound like.

I’m sure I’ve missed all manner of wellsprings of free culture. If you can think of any that I’ve missed. Let me know, and I’ll add them.

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