There was recorded music before the 1950′s, but you wouldn’t think it based on what’s reflected in popular culture. Sure, the occasional movie will take place in the 1930′s and feature a brass band, but for the most part any music made before the early days of rock and roll is rarely heard.
Interested in what early popular music sounded like? You’re in luck. America’s National Jukebox is a great place to browse for music from the early 1900′s all the way to the late 1920′s. Whether you’re into classical recordings or ragtime, you’ll find something to listen to here. The quality is, as should be expected, not exactly Dolby surround. Recording technology at the turn of the century was primitive to put it best. Still, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing of value here.
What It Is
Every recording found on this site was, previously, not found anywhere online. Employees at the Library of Congress spent a great deal of time taking old records and digitizing them. You can see a slideshow outlining the undertaking, if you’re interested.
It seems that none of the recordings can be downloaded, but they can all be streamed for free.
Head on over to the National Jukebox and you can start browsing. There’s a search bar of course, and a browsing feature that allows you to look for music by category.
Find music you want to listen to and you can do so. Playing an individual track is simple:
Or if you prefer, you can add tracks to a playlist and have them play in any succession you prefer. All you need to do is click the “Add To Playlist” button seen beside every track listing; a new window will pop up, and every track you add will be queued here.
There are a few pre-set playlists, of course. The Victor Book Of The Opera is a good one for opera buffs to check out and is supplemented with an interactive book. There’s also a collection of other playlists to browse. Highlights include:
Blogger and columnist Chris Weigant argued that the national jukebox is a good example of tax dollars spent well. I’m inclined to agree; sharing our cultural legacy with the world is a good idea all around.
What do you think? Is this endeavor a cool one, or a waste of resources? Let us know in the comments below, or just complain about how modern music is better than century-old stuff. Whatever you think is constructive.
Image Credit : williamcho
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