5 Incredible Online Music Resources to Explore

1. The Groundbreaking Educational Apps of Amphio (formerly called Touchpress)

The renowned team responsible for some of the most innovative educational apps such as “The Elements” (2010), “Barefoot World Atlas” (2012), and “Disney Animated” (2013) have created a collection of classical music apps that are interactive and beautifully designed, and full of unique features and expert commentary. I just downloaded “The Orchestra” which features Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting excerpts from 8 pieces covering the entire span of Western concert music, “Beethoven’s 9th Symphony”, which dives deep into the composer’s symphonic masterwork, and “Juilliard String Quartet”, which illuminates the interplay between the instruments in a legendary chamber work by Schubert. I’m extremely excited to dive into each app and experience some of my favorite classical pieces in a new way!

2. Explore the Score

I was lucky to find this hidden gem when looking for information about Musica Ricercata, an intriguing series of short piano pieces by the great 20th century composer György Ligeti. Turns out it that it was way more than I bargained for – a FREE interactive online resource on a set of modern works by Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, and Stravinsky. The site doesn’t have the best or sleekest design, but it more than makes up for it in content. You can follow along with scores, listen to commentary by A-list classical performers and read historical notes to put the compositions in context.

3. Syntorial

I’m really looking forward to demoing this acclaimed synthesizer-teaching software by Audible Genius. Through interactive lessons, videos, and quizzes, Syntorial aims to help composers and sound designers understand synthesis on a musical, practical level. It’s this fact that attracted me to the software – I really like that it emphasizes pragmatic skills and ear-training rather than focusing solely on theoretical knowledge.

4. Association for Cultural Equity Online Archive

Folklorist Alan Lomax’s massive collection of field recordings, folk songs, and interviews was digitized and archived online several years ago, and incredibly it is completely free. According to an NPR report, this was all part of Lomax’s plan even before the internet was invented. “Lomax recorded a staggering amount of folk music. He worked from the 1930s to the ’90s, and traveled from the Deep South to the mountains of West Virginia, all the way to Europe, the Caribbean and Asia” Lomax founded the nonprofit organization Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) in the ’80s, and since then “[executive director Don] Fleming and a small staff made up mostly of volunteers have digitized and posted some 17,000 sound recordings. ‘For the first time, everything that we’ve digitized of Alan’s field recording trips are online, on our website,” says Fleming. “It’s every take, all the way through. False takes, interviews, music.'”

5. The Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program

As we lose more and more of great Jazz masters of the 20th century – Paul Bley, Toots Thielemans, Bobby Hutcherson, and Clark Terry in the last couple years alone – this sizable archive of Jazz oral histories becomes increasingly precious each year. Containing complete transcripts of interviews up to 6 hours long, and hundreds of mp3 audio clips as well, the Smithsonian archive captures priceless anecdotes and stories from Jazz legends like Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Shirley Horn, Elvin Jones, Sonny Rollins and many more. It’s a veritable treasure to any Jazz musician or enthusiast, as well as a fascinating historical look at 20th century America through the point of view of some of its most original and innovative artists.


Music and Spirituality, in the Words of Three Masters

I’ve long been interested in the connections between music and spirituality – however you choose to define it. I don’t pretend to have any spiritual answers, or even any concrete beliefs. However, I do find that in my own experience, it’s impossible for me to separate music from life. Issues and questions I have outside of music inevitably find their expression in my composition or improvisation. In fact, I think music can serve as the perfect laboratory for observing and learning about oneself, and an excellent and worthwhile way to practice living a spiritually-fulfilled life. Through studying and making music, it’s possible to also learn about the creative process, perseverance and discipline, ego and fear, ethics and integrity, collaboration and altruism, and the quest for meaning.

If music were a spiritual university, stage-fright and career-jealousy could be the introductory courses “Ego 101/102”. Your teacher could mark you down a whole letter grade in “Basic Decency in the Contemporary Rock Band” if you didn’t help the drummer pack up after the gig. And your GPA would be based not on how well you play your instrument but on how how pure your relationship to it remained…the day you learned to play like it like a complete beginner, you would graduate.

Anyway, here are few gems I’ve found online – some clips of a few of my favorite musicians sharing their own thoughts on music and spirituality. Hope you find some inspiration in these clips, and feel free to ignore the parts that don’t appeal to you and reinterpret the parts that do.  Continue reading