Public Domain Music: Seven Free Online Resources

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Seven Sources for Free Public Domain Music on the Web

Public domain music

Public domain music is music that has passed into the public domain, which makes it free and completely legal to download. Here are seven sources for free public domain music that you can use to download tons of great music onto your computer or digital audio device, expand your musical horizons, and discover a whole new world of music you might not have heard of before. 

Note: public domain and copyright laws are complicated and can change. While the sites outlined in this article have done the heavy lifting for you to make sure what they are offering is actually public domain, it's always best to read the fine print before downloading any music in order to protect yourself against any possible legal complications.  The information contained in this article is intended for entertainment purposes only. 

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International Music Score Library Project

International Music Score Library Project

The IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library is a great resource for public domain music, with over 370,000 music scores available at the time of this writing. Search by composer namecomposer period, check out the featured scores, or browse the most recent additions. First editions of popular historical works can also be found here, as well as works distributed in a dozen different languages. 

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Public Domain Information Project

Public Domain Information Project

The Public Domain Information Project is a great place to to find a list of public domain songs and public domain sheet music. The Public Domain Information Project was organized in 1986 to provide information about public domain music.  They provide carefully researched lists of Public Domain Music titles, PD Sheet Music Reprints and PD Sheet Music Books.  They offer the Music2Hues and Sound Ideas professional Royalty Free Music Libraries on CD and for Download; in addition, PD Reference Materials, Digital PD Sheet Music on CD, and additional Royalty Free Sound Recordings by a carefully selected group of independent musicians are also found on this website. If you're looking for information you can license as part of a personal or commercial project, this is a good place to find possible sources. 

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The Mutopia Project

The Mutopia Project

Mutopia is a great source for public domain sheet music downloads. Search by composerinstrument, or by latest addition. The Mutopia Project offers sheet music editions of classical music for free download. These are based on editions in the public domain, and include works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Handel, Mozart, and many others.

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ChoralWiki

ChoralWiki

ChoralWiki is a fantastic resource for anyone who's looking for some great public domain music, and is very intuitive to search. For example, you can search for music for Advent and Christmas, look at the entire Online Score catalog, or browse the Archives for what's been added month to month.

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Musopen

Musopen

 Musopen offers both public domain sheet music and public domain music. Musopen is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on increasing access to music by creating free resources and educational materials. They provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Their stated mission is to "set music free".

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Freesound

Freesound

The Freesound Project is a little bit different than the other public domain resources on this list. Instead of sheet music or downloadable music, the Freesound Project offers a huge database of all kinds of sounds: birdsong, thunderstorms, voice snippets, etc. Freesound aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse. Freesound provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to:

  • browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a "sounds-like" type of browsing and more
  • upload and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license
  • interact with fellow sound-artists!

If you're looking to create a new and unique project, Freesound could be a great resource for you.

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ccMixter

ccmixter

ccMixter offers mashups of public domain songs under a Creative Commons license. If you're looking for background music for a project, for example, this would be a good place to find it. At ccMixter, musicians and DJs use Creative Commons licensing to share music content and build a community of artists, thanks to an open source infrastructure designed to facilitate storage, tracking, and sharing of multimedia content.