Saturday, July 10, 2010

Africa + music + open source

Sorting out my bookmarks, an activity which has taken me close to nine months to complete having had too many other things to do, had thrown up a few treats on the web that I'd previously stumbled across, saved and forgotten about. The sort will eventually manifest itself in a revamped Delicious profile, so that I can easily find the stuff I use on the web wherever I am and without having to be logged in to anything.

One such hidden gem that I'm delighted to have rediscovered is the Free Music Archive (FMA). The service describes itself as 'an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads' and it certainly is that. There is a dearth of sites that offer free music downloads and they are of varying quality (both the sites and the music that they offer), but the FMA seems to be a cut above the rest. It has a good clean layout, is very easy to use and navigate, and has very straightforward features like one-click downloading and code available for embedding players (of tracks or whole albums) in web pages. So far, the quality of music on the site seems pretty good too. All the tracks are made available through Creative Commons licenses, which makes download and discovery dead easy.

Browsing through the site, I came across the collection of songs available in the player above. Essentially a series of remixes of a Youssou N'Dour track - 'Wake Up - It's Africa Calling' - and released to mark the 30th anniversary of the charity Intrahealth, the tracks together comprise a pretty divine set of tunes. N'Dour's refrains, both in English and French, echo through the mixes and after a while become one of those earworms that you can't get out of your head. There are also several guest appearances, including the likes of Nas and Neneh Cherry, who keeps up her partnership with the Senegalese superstar as a kind of post-hip-hop Ella and Louis. The music has gentle Afro rhythms, mellow electronica and more soulful stronger undertones too.

Looks like the FMA is going to be one to revisit. I'll post up some of the tastier morsels I come across here too. In the meantime, enjoy the following formula: Africa + music + open source.

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