Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Something Familiar, Something Unusual—Music from Freegal

I have a long commute and sometimes travel out of state, so I like to have a full MP3 player to keep me company. Most of my music CD collection is on it, and, when MCPL got Freegal, I tried it out not only so I could explain it to library customers but so I could add to my own collection. As many people have said, Freegal is "eclectic," containing some unusual musicians while short on or some major artists. But Freegal has music in dozens of genres from acid rock to zydeco, and as you’ll read, my tastes are pretty eclectic.  Also, free music—five songs a week!—is not to be dismissed easily.

As a child of the 70s, I was delighted to find some Billy Joel right away, and, as time went on, Freegal added more of his titles. Recently, I found a few karaoke recordings so I now have fun doing my own rendition of "Only the Good Die Young" on the way to work in the morning. There’s also karaoke of another favorite of mine, Weird Al Yankovic. Use the word "karaoke" with your favorite artists to search (be careful: some recordings do have lead singers on them). A family sing-along might be fun on your next long trip—at least for a while.

My husband’s music interests have fostered my love of classic and big band jazz. Freegal has provided me with a wealth of songs, including at least a hundred by my favorite jazz vocalist, Ella Fitzgerald. Some of  "How High the Moon" is just one Freegal tune that includes her legendary scat singing. And when I heard a young jazz vocalist and songwriter, Cecile McLorin Salvant, on the radio I was delighted to be able to download some of her songs right away.

On Freegal, I’ve found classical vocal music I sang in college, multiple versions of "Les Miserables" and "West Side Story," and Tuvan throat singing—something I’d never heard till I went to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival soon after moving to the metro DC area. I recommend "Khoomei (Styles of the Throat Singing)" for a sampling if you’re curious. Freegal also has a generous collection of traditional and popular music from around the globe, so if you want to find some music from your home country or from a culture you learned about on a documentary or YouTube video, try Freegal.

It's also a great place to check out music you might not ordinarily buy. I tried out a couple of of songs by one of my teenage nephew's favorites, the Irish-American punk band Dropkick Murphys (songs not recommended for children younger than teens!). Now I have new insight into my usually-quiet nephew's personality.

Downloading five songs each week—remember, for free—lets me experiment with new music, as does the "preview" segment you can try before deciding. So explore for yourself, whether it's for something new or old favorites, add them to your computer or the MP3 player of your choice, and enjoy!

Beth C.

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