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Produced by the Library of Congress (LC), in partnership with the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Davidson Library, EMI Music, and Sony Music, National Jukebox provides access to streaming music from the library’s collection of historical sound recordings. Included are recordings from the collection of the LC Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation as well as from other libraries and archives.
The homepage features a rotating offering of featured highlights, including featured songs, playlists, and news. A section titled “Making of the National Jukebox” describes the process undertaken to select and digitize the recordings from their original analog recordings, and includes a historical discussion of the techniques involved in creating the original recordings.
Recordings are available from as early as 1900. The collection is divided into five major genres; “Classical music,” “Ethnic characterizations,” “Popular music,” “Religious,” and “Spoken word,” with subgenres in some areas. For instance the popular grouping includes the subgenres “Blues”; “Ragtime, jazz, and more”; “Musical theater”; “Traditional/Country”; “Whistling”; and “Yodeling,” as well as others.
The collection can be searched by a number of terms and groupings, including artist, song, lyricist, composer, and genre. An advanced search is available that allows combination of search terms as well as limiting by date, label name, language, audience, and category (i.e., vocal, instrumental, spoken). Browsing is also available, and allows the user to appreciate the full extent and variety of the recordings available.
A number of selected playlists are included for listening pleasure, and an entertaining option is the ability to create personal playlists. “Playlist Basics” provides instructions on how one can create a personal playlist. Users can then submit their playlists to LC, which may include playlists submitted by the public in their regular playlist offerings.
Also included is the Victrola Book of the Opera, reproduced from the 1919 edition as an interactive e-book facsimile. It describes more than 110 operas, with links to many of the actual recordings listed therein.
National Jukebox is highly recommended to musicians and historians—both of music and American popular culture—as well as to anyone with an interest in the rich offerings of American sound recordings.
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