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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

How do you get your music these days?

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(UPDATE 2011-07-11 - Version française au

This blog post is in response to an interesting thread I encountered, posted by Kjohnson on April 20, 2011.

What an interesting topic! I have been collecting music for over 30 years and, indeed, technology has changed, and so has our ways of acquiring music. When I started (probably when most of us started) the technologie du jour was vinyl. From vinyl and tapes, I graduated to CDs, and about two years ago moved my entire digital mnusic collection to my PC. Last October, I bought a 160 GB iPod Classic (nothing else could hold my entire collection) and I’ve been pretty much a digital track consumer ever since – though I did buy two CDs this past weekend, probably my first hard media purchase in three years.

The following are my musings on digital music, with apologies to other members who may have offered similar comments - as I have not reviewed the thread is extreme detail.

Digitizing vinyl and tapes

Some of us are sitting on hundreds of hours of music in analogue vinyl and cassette recordings. As the PC technology has evolved, transferring these treasures to digital format has never been easier. On my Blogspot blog, I provided an extensive primer on the subject of “digitizing vinyl”, and provided a montage of some of my results. The links are:

About YouTube

YouTube is, indeed, a very rich resource of amateur and professional classical music performances. Some YouTube offerings are, in many instances, a thinly-veiled way of distributing copywritten material (as the “videos” are simply a sequence of still images). I use YouTube in two ways:
  • I make up Playlists (which I can retrieve anywhere I have an internet connection), and
  • I transfer YouTube to MP3 and add them to my music collection. One such (free) service I found is (The pop-ups can be annoying, but the “High Quality” results can be surprisingly good.)

Buying Tracks on-line

iTunes and eMusic are two on-line stores that provide tracks for under $1. I personally am a subscriber to eMusic, and, for $0.49 cents CDN, download about 50 tracks each month. The selection at both sites is very broad.

Free Music sites on the Internet

Here’s a modest sampling of some of the sites I go to regularly for music (both for on-line listening and for downloading). There are certainly many more! I like these sites because I have found good quality tracks here...

Public Domain Classic
The site provides a large selection of music from Bach to Weber. The recordings date anywhere between early acoustic recordings to the early days of stereo (roughly the 50-years between 1910 and 1960), and feature renowned performances for recognizable soloists, conductors and orchestras.
(Read more of my thoughts about this site @

Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum
A wide range of solo and chamber works, performed by some of the finest musicians in North-America.
(Read more of my thoughts about this site @

The Church of St-Agnes -
Organ and sacred music from St-Paul Minnesota. High quality amateur chorale, supported by professional musicians.

USAF Heritage of America Band
Based at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, this Wind ensemble plays a broad repertoire including marches and wind band/chamber wind works. This site requires a bit of mining, but the results can be very satisfying.

Piano Society -
Amateur and professional pianists contribute solo, chamber and, occasionally, concertante works covering a broad swath of the piano repertoire.

The Dark Side

So far, all my suggestions don’t get into issues of copyright and conscience (if some sites, like Public Domain Classic, make you uneasy, remember that until you “download” the track, there’s nothing to lose sleep over.)

If you are willing to cross-over to the Dark Side, and download copywritten material, then here are a few suggestions (attempt at your own - calculated - risk).

Avaxhome is one of (many) sites that I found where people share copywritten material. The selection is broad, though links have a tendency to dissappear without warning. The policy of the site is that the files need to be available from a file-sharing service with a “free” download option.

Another popular way of acquiring material is using torrents. If you have a torrent link and a torrent client (such as BitTorrent) then you can acquire the material through an automated download procedure. Depending on the torrent “seed”, downloads can take a few hours to several days.

Downloadable material is often just one google-search away. I have had no difficulty finding particular performances by simply creating a google search using

<composer> + <work> + <artist> + ”torrent”

Example: "Mozart Jupiter Bohm Torrent" yields:

So, there you go, lots af places to visit and things to try. I hope this is useful insight for music collectors everywhere!
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Updated Jul-11-2011 at 12:45 by itywltmt (Added link to French version)

Classical Music , Recorded Music