#Writing #MusicMonday: Voices of Christmas Past – 1898 to 1922 by various artists

vocpYou know, this year, I was all set for Christmas, as I noted previously. I not only had all my November Music Monday posts picked out ahead of time, I had three out of the four weeks leading up to Christmas all accounted for, and in the mood of the season.

But I suddenly got all indecisive about what to post the week of Christmas. Should I go traditional, or ultramodern? Free Culture or anything goes? Instrumental, or vocal? A collection of various artists that already has been selected, or put together my own selections? (That last one tempted me, sorely.)

Finally, after listening and exploring quite a bit, I narrowed in on two collections I first found at the Free Music Archive. One was a collection of electronic instrumentals meant as new, replacement Christmas music, since the curator felt too many of our seasonal songs are too old. 1 The other was this, a collection of public domain 2 recordings from the early 20th Century.

What tipped the balance was finding the website of the organization that was the source of the collection, which pointed me to their uploads to the Internet Archive, and finding that you could download the lossless FLAC files, as well as MP3s and Ogg Vorbis. The fact that you can get the lossless files and make a CD from them without any (further) degradation of sound quality did it for me.

In 1998, vintage recording website Dawn of Sound released a compact disc collection of public domain early recording artifacts called Voices of Christmas Past. The recordings were cylinders and acetates from 1898 to 1922. Every year after the release, the website was inundated with requests for the CD. Once it was out of print, Dawn of Sound released it online for free.

From the original liner notes of the CD:

On October 30, 1889 banjoist Will Lyle made history by recording “Jingle Bells”, the very first Christmas record. Although no known copies of this record survive one of the earliest vocal examples of “Jingle Bells” does survive on an Edison brown wax cylinder entitled, “Sleigh Ride Party”. It was made a decade later and is reissued here for the very first time in this collection. These songs and monologues from the original vintage recordings capture the essence of the Christmas spirit as it was in the opening two decades of the 20th Century.

If, like me, early 20th Century Americana just automatically gives you warm fuzzies, then this is an hour and fifteen minutes of pure joy. If you’re not like me, give it a listen, and see if it doesn’t put you in a warm, nostalgic mood anyway.

I bet it will.

Download Voices of Christmas Past – 1898 to 1922 in multiple formats, including lossless FLAC, free from the Internet Archive.

You can also get it in MP3 format from the Free Music Archive.



Voices of Christmas Past by Various Artists [Dawn of Sound] is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.


  1. I do not say that I agree with him, since there are any number of 20th Century songs already considered classics, from “White Christmas” to Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. 
  2. I am posting this with the CC license the organization claims, but frankly, since the recordings themselves are public domain, I fail to see how they can reasonably claim copyright on them, simply for digitizing. However, the case law (as I understand it) currently favors allowing copyright on any alteration, including simply transferring something public domain into another medium, so I’ll let it stand. The recordings themselves, however, are public domain. It’s only the files themselves that have the restrictive CC license. 

#Writing #Music Monday: Inside The Beat by Partition 36

CoverI’ve had two albums by Partition 36 in my “potential WMM” playlist for quite a long time, but kept putting off sharing anything from him/her.

There is an anger to the music, or at least that’s how I feel it when I listen. It’s sort of techno, and has those razor edges some techno gets.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t like it — I wouldn’t be sharing it if I didn’t. But it is less immediately likeable than some of what I share, and might even be off-putting. Consider that fair warning.

Also, there are vocals on a number of tracks on this album, though they’re less lyrics and more like chanting, most of the time. But if that pulls you out or distracts you when writing, keep it in mind.

That said, despite the occasional abrasiveness of the listening experience, Inside The Beat does what I like electronica albums to do — it takes you on a journey through a world, a place you couldn’t get to with any other kind of sound. And while it has those areas that maybe are a bit uncomfortable, for the most part it is a pleasant journey.

Download Inside The Beat free from the Internet Archive.

Also, you can download it (including in lossless FLAC format) from Partition 36’s own site, but under a more restrictive non-commercial license.


Creative Commons License
Inside The Beat by Partition 36 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: handmade by Bruce H. McCosar

CoverMellow. That’s the one-word summation of this album. It’s just mellow.

Bruce McCosar has appeared here twice before, and all of his appearances in Writing Music Monday post-date his apparent disappearance from the internet. His music is still extant, and all under the free culture Attribution-Share Alike license, so his legacy will continue regardless, but when they say “the internet is forever”? It’s not really true.

Of the three McCosar albums I’ve shared to date, this is the second for which he prepared extensive “liner notes”. For La vie sous la mer, he prepared a PDF with everything he wanted to say. Unfortunately, that seems to have been lost when he closed up his blog, and I’ve not been able to find a copy.

For today’s album, archaeologists and musicologists of the future are somewhat more fortunate: McCosar did his notes as a series of pages on his blog, and a portion of them are preserved by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Basically, any multi-part note has the first part preserved, and the rest seem to be gone.

Apart from that, on the album’s page at Jamendo, he says:

I named this album handmade because all the rhythms were performed using hand percussion instruments: three conga drums, two maracas, and a cowbell. Against this background I have highly melodic improvisation, jazzy chords, and of course a groovin bass line.

I play every instrument you hear on this album—guitar, bass, Hammond organ, keys, and drums.

And as I say above, it all comes off as very mellow. It’s fifty-six and a half minutes of melodic, relaxed tunes that fit in the background very nicely as you’re typing along. OK, maybe not the thing to have playing if you’re writing a horror novel or a nail-biting thriller. But aside from those, I’d say it’s simply one of those perfect writing albums, one that can fit almost any story mood so you can bang away at the keyboard.

You can download handmade by Bruce H. McCosar free from Jamendo or from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
handmade by Bruce H. McCosar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Simple One by Art Owens

[cover] Art Owens - Simple OneThe excellent Art Owens will serve as our Valentine’s Day artist.

Simple One is one of his last Creative Commons/Jamendo releases, and it is exquisite. While many of his releases have me drooling over his trumpet skills and wishing the remainder of the music had been jettisoned for something a little more soulful and a lot less synth, Owens finds the perfect balance on this album. His trumpet work is as good as ever, but the supporting music holds up to it, everything integrates to cast a spell over the listener.

He says of the inspiration for Simple One:

This album is about a woman with a simple life,and she is every man’s dream, beautiful, smart, caring, loving. Someone you want to be with the rest of your life.

And that makes it our Valentine’s Writing Music album this year.

Download Simple One free from Jamendo.

Alternatively, you can get it from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
Simple One by Art Owens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Writing Music Monday: About Life by Art Owens

[cover] Art Owens - About LifeArt Owens has appeared once before on Writing Music Monday, with Space Rhythm back in 2013. He is, or was, a jazz composer and trumpeter working (I believe) mostly with synthesizers on his own. (Except, of course, for his distinctive trumpet work, which is what keeps drawing me back to him.)

And a lot of his work he pulled from Jamendo when they “redesigned” the site and “improved” it by removing features and disabling things that people liked. He left up six albums, but this is not one of them. And so far as I know, he retired from making music all together.

However, because he released all his work to the Creative Commons, all it took was somebody caring enough to post his work elsewhere, with proper attribution and sharing alike, and this album, and many others, remain “out there” for anyone to enjoy.

Sometimes his stuff is right up my alley, other times I’m not in the mood at all. But when I am in the mood, it’s great to write to, even when, as in this album, there are tracks that include lyrics.

Great stuff to write to, and that’s what I should be doing. So, back to the novel.

You can download About Life by Art Owens from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
About Life by Art Owens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: Impact Valentine by Lobo Loco (WMM Edition)

CoverHere’s where you can see a small benefit of the Creative Commons. I’ve had this album on my android forever. Every now and then, I go back to it, and begin with the thought “This is great! Why haven’t I put this up on the blog yet?”

And then one of the vocal tracks plays.

And then I don’t try listening to the album again for months and months.

I won’t get into whether the vocals are good or bad, but they yank me right out of the mood the instrumentals put me into, every single time. This, for a collection of music to write to, is Not A Good Thing.

So I have taken advantage of the Attribution-Share Alike license and “remixed” the album — if by remix you understand me to mean that I just dropped the vocal tracks entirely and let it go at that.

This is “modern” jazz in the sense that it’s the sort of thing that I usually do not enjoy, much like last week’s album. And much like last week’s album, this is a strong exception to the rule. I really enjoy these tracks, having them in the background while I’m writing or outlining or just thinking through structural problems with a story. It works for me, in some way I can’t explain, or differentiate from other albums in similar style.

Lobo Loco appears to be a German individual (go figure, again), and has contributed quite a lot of music to the Free Culture movement. His musical and melodic sense, in the instrumentals I’ve listened to, are quite good. His vocals, alas, are not for me. Even so, what he has contributed is good stuff, and all licensed to be used just as you see fit.

You can download Impact Valentine (WMM Edition) from either the Internet Archive or from this playlist page at Jamendo.


Creative Commons License
Impact Valentine (WMM Edition) by Lobo Loco is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a120046/impact-valentine.

Writing Music Monday: Just Unsorted by pk jazz collective

CoverNot sure what to say about this one. Most of it is “jazz” only in the Lou Reed sense (“One chord. Maybe two. Three, and you’re getting into jazz.”), but it sets a mood and a soundscape nicely, and just works somehow.

PK Jazz Collective is, in fact, one man in Russia, Korotin Vyacheslav. He makes this sort of jazz-rock and releases it under Creative Commons, and that’s about all I know. This album, in either version, seems to be a sort of “best of” from him, which makes it even more eclectic than his other works.

Give it a listen, see what you think.

Just Unsorted by pk jazz collective can be downloaded from Jamendo or in a slightly different version (and more restrictive license) from the Internet Archive.


Creative Commons License
Just Unsorted by pk jazz collective is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.