This section provides links to external sites that contain large quantities of information about, or resources for, the study of music. The links are selected because:
- They are stable and reliable: they have been in existence for some time and are maintained regularly and conscientiously.
- They contain resources which you can access and download freely. This includes books, articles, notated music, recorded sound and images.
There are two cautions:
- It is important to emphasise that, while you may have the right to download material from these sites, it does not mean that you then have the right to reproduce it: it may well be subject to copyright restrictions.
- These sites are external sites: ABRSM has no control over their content and accepts no responsibility for them.
Many of the useful free sites on the internet come about as a result of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. This has involved initiatives from several educational and other institutions concerned with increasing and widening opportunities for learning.
Many organisations have been funded to make resources available free of charge online. This includes resources in all media and very often the teaching materials of some of the best educational institutions in the world. The main problem that OER presents is the quantity of resources, which are now so voluminous as to overwhelm potential users. However, OER has revolutionised the way that people can access the world of learning, wherever they may be.
There are several OER resources in this part of this site, but other useful sites are included too. In keeping with the strategy for this site, the number of links is deliberately restricted and grouped under appropriate headings. Many of the recommended sites contain their own set of recommended links, so the quantity of information given here is more substantial than might first appear.
Gresham College, London, was founded in the sixteenth century. Today the College provides free lectures and other events by leading experts. Among the fixed-term professorial appointments is the Gresham Chair of Music. Almost 200 past lectures given by various holders of the appointment and others are freely available online – entering ‘music’ in the search engine reveals the full range, but there are many other topics that should be interesting to musicians. The text of the lectures is provided online with the video recordings.
MIT Open Courseware
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was one of the first to create a strategy for releasing open educational resources. This site provides links to the free material in Music and Theatre Arts.
OpenLearn and iTunesU
Free learning packages from the Open University. They include packages in music and music technology, and many hundreds more in a wide range of subjects. You can visit the University’s LearningSpace.
A related site (but with different content) is iTunes U: again designed by and containing content from the Open University, but specifically intended to be used on mobile devices.
These sites are not devoted solely to books about music.
The site functions in two ways: as a bibliographical search tool and as a collection of out-of-copyright books that you can download in PDF format. There is good search engine.
The site contains in excess of 40,000 books that can be downloaded and read online. A further 1,000,000 titles can be downloaded through the Project Gutenberg affiliates which are listed in a link from the main site.
The Internet Archive
More than four million texts on various subjects for download.
Sites devoted to single composers abound on the internet and are easily traced through one of the standard search engines. It is not practicable to list every valuable site here, but those given below are some of the best.
American Music Center
Dedicated to contemporary American music, the site contains not just information but recorded sound and scores. It covers several musical styles.
An aid to the study of the work of J. S. Bach. It contains several links and an excellent search engine. It is maintained by the State Library of Berlin.
Beethoven-Haus Bonn Digital Archives
More than 6,000 images from the collections of the famous museum.
Chopin’s First Editions Online (CFEO)
Detailed commentary on the first editions of Chopin’s work. The outcome of a major collaborative research project.
The Aaron Copland Collection
A vast and varied collection of materials relating to the composer. It is part of the Library of Congress American Memory collection.
The site of the Haydn Institute. In German, but with an automatic translation facility.
Mozart's Thematic Catalogue
A multimedia site created and maintained by the British Library and exhibiting some of its Mozart sources.
Most major libraries and museums have online exhibitions containing images relevant to music. The links below are to specialist collections.
One of the largest commercial collections of images. The word ‘music’ typed into the site’s search engine produces almost three and a half million images relating to music.
The National Art Library
The UK’s National Art Library is part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The collection is vast, and the word ‘music’ entered into the search engine reveals images of musicians, instruments and various musical texts and decorative texts about music. The site is also one of the best for gaining an understanding of different periods and styles of the visual arts.
Trove: Digitised newspapers
Most digitised newspaper collections are only available under license, but Trove is available freely in its complete form. It is an exemplary site containing many historic Australian newspapers, with a tremendously flexible search engine. Images of the texts can be viewed free of charge.
British Library Newspaper Collections
The Library holds a vast number of newspapers and periodicals, some of which have been digitised. This site only describes the collections, but an affiliation with a commercial organisation allows access to several digitised collections for a limited charge at a modest price. The collection includes numerous European periodicals.
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
This excellent site is part of the Library of Congress digitisation project. The available images of newspapers include numerous interesting early articles on jazz.
Musical instrument museums have been in the forefront of developing free access to their collections. The sites provide images and explanations of instrument collections as well as sound clips of instruments being played.
Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments
One of the largest collections of instruments in the UK, with an excellent and easily navigable website.
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), Brussels
One of the largest European collections, with more than 7,000 items, MIM is devoted exclusively to musical instruments. It is also a major centre for research into musical instrument history and ethnography.
National Music Museum (of the USA)
This museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, was formerly called The Shrine to Music. It justifiably claims to have the largest collection of musical instruments in the world. Among the many facilities of the site are tables that allow the dating of a large number of instruments using manufacturers’ serial numbers.
Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM)
This site originates in a major collaborative project devoted to the study of early recordings between a number of British universities. The site includes links to similar projects and to discographies, and it also holds a number of sound files. There are also pages on the analysis of recordings.
Cylinder Preservation and Digitalization Project
This project, based at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is devoted to the preservation of recording cylinders – the earliest commercially produced recordings. As well as information about this period of recording history, the site provides sound files of many early recordings.
Ubiquitous because its content covers so many topics and subjects, it is the world’s most visited website for viewing moving images. Among its vast resources are archive films of immense importance, including several of the greatest live jazz performances and interviews with leading musicians of all styles. Several orchestras have their own YouTube series in which players speak about and demonstrate the repertoire for their instrument.