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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The National Jukebox Offers 10,000 Recordings from 1901-1925 for Free: Clear Some Time

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 10:54 AM

  • A pre-electric recording session. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress just launched the National Jukebox, a free service that lets you stream some 10,000 recordings made between 1901 and 1925. Right now, they're all releases on labels now owned by Sony Music, which gave the Library a free license to stream all its acoustical recordings. That would be recordings made without electricity, where people would set up in front of a giant cone with a diaphragm, which vibrated with the sound waves and moved a stylus, which carved the music into wax records. The Library of Congress spent 2010 meticulously digitizing these records, and the Jukebox interface is surprisingly useable. Listen to some choice cuts below.

There's something surreal about this -- these recordings represent an entire era of music that was basically lost to the public consciousness. And 10,000 is a huge number. If you can think of or find a song made in that time period, it's probably represented somehow in the Jukebox.

The Jukebox warns of potential inappropriate or offensive language; we haven't found any yet, but maybe you'll get lucky. Most likely, this is a warning about references to cultural mores we no longer subscribe to.

Alright, one more for the home team. "St. Louis Blues," brought to our attention by Jordan Howe of Union Tree Review:

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