Welcome to the Free Music Archive

"It's not just free music; it's good music"


Visager on 04/29/2016 at 02:46PM

Making Music for Unknown Worlds

How do you make music for a world that doesn't exist? This was the question I began my project with. To answer it, I have just released an album -- Songs From An Unmade World 2 -- which features both standalone and loopable tracks that are available for indie game developers and designers to use in their own projects. These tracks are inspired by old-school adventure/RPG video game music, and they mix classic chiptune sounds with more modern electronic elements. In releasing this album, it is my hope fill a void for game creators by placeing high-quality music in the Creative Commons so that projects on a tight budget come to life!

As a composer and music producer for almost five years, I have worked collaborated with makers in dance, theater, film, and more. But making music for games, to me, feels like an entirely different, exciting category of composition.

The biggest difference comes in the way music is literally woven into the fabric of your players' experiences. In film, theater, and dance, music generally lives a linear existence -- bits of music are tied to specific moments that the performers and audience experience simultaneously. In this framework, music becomes strongly tied to emotional moments.

In video games, however, music often serves a much more textural purpose -- the player lives inside of your music. They encounter your notes, rhythms, and melodies around every corner as they play the game. Figuring out how to make an almost living soundtrack is a much more intriguing puzzle to solve than working on a linear project. Both Songs From An Unmade World 2, and its forerunner, Songs From An Unmade World (released on FMA last fall), were a fantastic exploration for me in this organic side of musical world-building. 

I hope you're reading this because there's something useful for you in one of these two albums! If so, I would love for you to drop me a line on Twitter. If you're just here because you are curious about video game music, that is awesome in and of itself -- there is so much great video game music out there to discover. Happy exploring!

You can find more music from Visager by visiting his website: www.visager.us.

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cheyenne_h on 04/28/2016 at 12:19PM

A Ton of Public Domain Songs

via Flickr Commons/State Library of New South Wales. Long live the Public Domain!

We know you've seen them floating around our pages... PUBLIC DOMAIN SONGS! But... then, you lose track, and they're hard to find again. Well, we updated our search filters to include CC0 content in our Public Domain results -- so now you can find all the Public Domain songs on FMA. These are either ones whose copyright has expired, a la Antique Phonograph Program, or songs which have been dedicated into the Public Domain using CC0, such as our Masters Remastered entries and microSongs, as well as some generous artists who want their music to be heard, shared, and used free of limitations!

To find these songs, just click on the "Public Domain" box at the bottom of our search filters. Currently, we have almost 1,500 of these tracks!

Are you interested in sharing your music with us under the Public Domain dedication? Get in touch.

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public domain
Black_Lantern_Music on 04/15/2016 at 02:52PM


Photo credit: Fiona McKinlay / TBreak

When CHURCH OF WHEN THE SHIT HITS THE FAN were, by some strange twist of fate, selected to play at T In The Park—Scotland's largest outdoor music festival,normally dominated by twee-indie-rock or techno tents—there was an outcry over the name. Not from outraged Christian fundamentalists or anything so exciting like that, but just from your average, 'normal' music fans. Many tweets proclaimed it the worst band name they've ever heard; The Sun newspaper couldn't understand why they we're called something more sensible; people wanted band names to be proper nouns: The Something, The Name, The Bla Bla Blas. People want things to be simple, to be the same as everything else; for things to be boring. Maybe it is a silly name, but so what? In the word's of Heath Ledger's lip-licking Clown Prince of Crime, “why so serious?”

But more importantly, the name fits perfectly

By no means Black Lantern Music's weirdest band, COWTSHTF are certainly the one band that best straddle the weirder, more experimental elements of the label with the hippiest-hoppiest sunshine rap bounce that the label also releases.

With lyrical concerns that touch upon sci-fi, surrealism, tentacles and the all-pervasive imminent threat of total apocalyptic annihilation ('when the shit hits the fan' is used as a byword by preppers for total societal collapse), and classic electro beats that draw upon reggae, boom-bap, funk, and David Lynchian-soundscapes, COWTSHTF are the end of the world as viewed through the lens of 90s-era Saturday morning cartoons. Pow! Zap! Boom! They are their own genre: DOOMCRUNK.

I can think of no other band that will touch upon lounge jazz covers of Slayer and double time rapping in such close proximity. Maybe if Dr Octagon and Mr Bungle had a baby and dropped it on its head....

Formed by two of Black Lantern's founding members—rapper HQ also spits with grotesque glitch death-rap titans Sileni, and Asthmatic Astronaut is the ubiquitous producer with over 80,000 downloads on FMA alone—that together perfectly encapsulated not just what Black Lantern Music, but also a strand of experimental hip-hop that is simultaneously unique and steeped in tradition.

Between 2010 and 2013, they released three EPs and one spectacular music video to much critical acclaim.

Now, all of their songs, both from those EPs and from other collaborations or offcuts, they release REPROGRAMMED, a monstrous remix album that elevates their songs to a new level.

Featuring new interpretations that cross genres and sensibilities—including, but not limited to techno, goth-misery, boom-bap, math rock, and dubstep—REPROGRAMMED is at once a loving tribute to this unique power-duo, but also the perfect place to get acquainted.

Get your voodoo on....






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cheyenne_h on 04/13/2016 at 10:30AM

"The Daily Dose" Documentary Soundtracked With FMA's Help

A screenshot from the film.

A little while back, we got an email inquiring about using a song from the Free Music Archive for a documentary film. We get requests like this a lot, and sometimes the filmmakers aren't as fluent in CC licenses as we are. Since the song was CC BY-NC-ND, it wasn't licensed for use in film or derivative works. But we put our heads together and tracked down the right people to ask for permission.

Jackie Ruth Murray, the South African filmmaker who contacted us, co-runs a production company called Reel Epics Productions in Cape Town. She found out about the FMA via a web search and was looking for music to score her short documentary film, "The Daily Dose," an autobiographical account of taking antiretroviral medication.

The film has recently been selected to screen at the Encounters International Documentary Festival, a South African documentary film fest that also hosts classes and film industry related events.

CH: How did you search for music, and what did you find?

JRM: I searched for a general genre which i felt was fitting for the narrative of my film. I then narrowed it down to approximately 10 songs which supported the tempo of my film. I found a song titled “Heaven is The Other Way” by Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys. The song is written by the band’s frontman, Robert Williams. The lyrics of the song uncannily match the message of my film.

CH: Do you prefer Creative Commons music to fully copyrighted music?

JRM: I don’t have much experience with fully copyrighted music. However before finding FMA, I did originally attempt to acquire a licence for a song which was fully copyrighted. My search became very laborious as i was directed to a number of different companies. I eventually gave up for lack of clear directive and because of the length of time that it took.

CH: Was the process of contacting the artist/record label intimidating or difficult?

JRM: My experience with FMA was not in the least bit intimidating or difficult.  The director of FMA, Cheyenne Hohman was extremely helpful and timely in her responses to my enquiries. She assisted me in contacting Bill Hunt from Cow Island Music, the band’s record label. Bill put me in touch with Robert Williams from Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys. I sent Robert a link to my film to give him an idea of how i wanted to use his song. Robert was very open and willing for his song to be used and even went so far as contacting the record licence companies, Yep Rock and BMG to give his permission for me to use his song. From there, BMG and Yep Rock speedily organised the licence for me. I then received an email from The David Gresham Music Company here in South Africa, who arranged the music licence for me. They took the fact that i made my documentary on a next-to-nothing budget with no commercial gain purposes into account and gave me a discount which i was very grateful for. To sum up, i was blown away with the support i received from all involved.

CH: Did the FMA help you achieve your goal of using this piece of music?

JRM: Yes, as explained above, absolutely. The FMA also helped me understand the Creative Commons legalities.

CH: How did you ultimately end up using the song?

JRM: I used the song in its entirety and split it into three consecutive parts: for the introduction of the film, as a link between act 1 and three of the film and finally for the end of the film.

CH: Will you use the Free Music Archive for projects in the future?

JRM: I have told my colleagues at Reel Epics Productions about the FMA and we will definitely be using the archive for future projects.

You can find out more about the film at https://www.facebook.com/thedailydosedocumentary/

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FMA App for iOS and Android Out Now!

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Hey mobile users! We know you're out there. If you've been waiting for a way to access FMA on your iThing or Android, now's your chance to download 'em! As always, they're free! 

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