Noteworthy Music Sites

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Data Dragon
If you’re a beginner (or you know a beginner), this is the perfect site to gain a basic grasp of music notation. It covers reading, clefs, time signatures, notes, rests, counting, symbols, and more. It goes through all of the elements with short, simple explanations that require no prior knowledge about music. The content seems to be aimed at those just starting to learn piano, since it only covers the standard treble and bass clefs, but the other parts of the site can still be educational for learning other instruments as well. Navigation of the site is relatively straightforward, and the design is simplistic and somewhat outdated. But no matter what decade it is, studying and learning about music notation is always relevant.

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National Jukebox
Hosted by The Library of Congress, this site provides a vast selection of music and audio recordings for the public to stream online for free. Genres include classical music, ethnic characterizations, popular music, religious, and spoken word. Their archive seems to be growing every day. This site is clean and easily legible.

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Historic American Sheet Music
The Duke University Libraries have placed digital images of more than 3,000 pieces of sheet music online from their collections of American music. All of the music on this site was published in America between 1850 and 1920. The files are free to access but are intended for educational and research use only. The site also has some information about this musical time period in America, and it also discusses the music’s preservation and publication. For research purposes, the site also provides a research guide to direct researchers in the collection. For those who are specializing or have a particular interest in this area of music, this is an informative source.

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A Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments
Music doesn’t just vary by geographic location; it also changes over time. Iowa University provides a virtual tour of their medieval and renaissance instrument collection. All of the images are pictures taken of the actual instruments they own, and it shows how the instrument would have been held or played. The site provides brief history and descriptions about each of the instruments, and the bottom of each page suggests further resources and readings for more information. Many modern music transcriptions will take music from outdated instruments and transpose them for modern instruments.
When working on such a piece, it is useful to revisit the original instrument for which the song was intended.

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Big Ears
Among jazz musicians, someone with very good ears is said to have “big ears.” On that thought, the Big Ears website is a simple online ear training program that’s completely free. It quizzes the listener on intervals by playing a random interval with a random starting pitch. The listener then must choose which interval was played. The training is meant to improve interval recognition skills of anyone that tries it. The listener has complete control over the difficulty level. Such as, the person can choose the number of intervals that the program will pull from in the quiz; beginners can choose fewer possible answers to make it easier and advance at their own pace.
The process is stress free; listeners are allowed as many guesses as they need. To have access to the applet that runs the program, one’s browser must be compatible with Java and have Java installed. The notes are all sampled with a real piano, so the sounds don’t sound digital or articifical. The website and applet have been around since 1996 and is still so useful; this is a skill set that doesn’t change in importance or significance with time and really will stay with one forever.

by Olivia Lin