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Friday, January 11, 2008

(My) Top 5 Musical Reference Sites

Let's face it. I listen to a lot of music. I read about music. I look up lyrics, copyright dates, history, put together frequent mixes of the themed varieties. I like having information handily and readily available. I have spent a long time putting together my own personal reference library, as it were, of websites I visit frequently when I'm on a fact finding mission. Please, let me share them with might just find them interesting. Or helpful. Or both.

5. Essentials of Music:
It's a Sony site and built around their Essentials of Music collection, but don't let that scare you. Don't let that it's Classical music scare you either. It's a wealth of information. It lets you search by era, giving a nice description of the Classical eras or by composer, which gives you a detailed autobiography. There's a nice glossary of terms. It also lets you search alphabetically and it's quite detailed with the information it shares. There's also excerpts of famous works by each composer. I have it bookmarked because, well, I don't listen to much Classical music but I'd like to. I thought it would come in handy in picking what I wanted to...expose...myself to.

4. RIAA Radar:
Want to know if the album you're about to purchase is being released by a Recording Industry Association of America member so that you aren't contributing to their money making machine? Then RIAA Radar is for you. Easily find out who records for an RIAA member (there are hundreds of them) and who doesn't. Handy feature: you can even use it from your phone while shopping by checking the UPC against their database.

3. Art of the Mix:
Speaking of mixes...Who hasn't dabbled in the art of making a mixed cd for someone? Or a mixed tape? (Believe it or not, those are making a comeback and I personally have several I hold near and dear to my heart.) You do have the option of hosting and sharing your play list, which can lead to interesting discoveries. I like to share my mixes, but I spend a lot of time looking at titles other people come up with. (I'm a mix artist on the constant hunt for inspiration it seems.)

2. Second Hand Songs:
It's a cover songs database. You can search by artist, song title, label, mediums. Find the song you're looking for and it'll tell you who's covered it, the date it was covered (released), who originally recorded it, and the date of it's original release. Hit on something like a Dylan song, for example, and it'll give you a list of all the people who have covered it and when. (Because at some point, everybody does Dylan.) They also provide a handy list of books they use for research and a page of links to things like a CD cover search engine and misc. discographies.

1. Eric's Thematic Song Lists:
I seriously do not remember how I came across this blog, but I've had it bookmarked forever. It seems Eric has let it fall to the wayside (the last time he updated was 2006) but has kept it up for people to browse. Whomever Eric is, I applaud his effort at compiling lists of songs by theme: kissing, cities, streets, animals, etc. There aren't many themes but what themes there are are a wealth of information. It's inspiring, his lists, because I'll be looking for one thing and come across the inspiration for another. I can't count how many times mixes I share with others have come from something in one of his lists.

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