The U.S. Library of Congress has unveiled a new service for sourcing audio samples from its massive archive for DJs and producers. According to The New York Times, the new tool, dubbed “Citizen DJ,” allows users to comb through the Library’s massive resources for new sounds.
This new resource comes from Library of Congress Innovator In Residence Brian Foo. As an early hip-hop fan and former breakdancer Foo drew on early memories of DJs combing through record stores for vinyl with obscure sounds that could be made into new beats. In this new digital era, Foo wondered, “What is that collective crate that we all own as American citizens? What are these sounds that can be used in an unrestricted creative way?”
Now with Citizen DJ, users are able to thumb through decade’s worth of material from the Library’s audio and moving-image collections. These sounds can come from a variety of resources, stretching back to early recordings of traveling vaudeville acts, royalty-free music, interviews, speeches, and more. While users are able to download specific audio files or mass files in bulk, they are also encouraged to interact with the original source material from the Library’s massive database.
A beta version of Citizen DJ is available now through May 15th, while Foo and the Library of Congress plan to have the full version ready later this summer. The current version features six collections of audio content to choose from including “Inventing Entertainment”, “Variety Stage Sound Recordings and Motion Pictures”, “The Joe Smith Collection”, “Free Music Archive”, “American English Dialect Recordings”, and “The National Screening Room”.
Of note is “The Joe Smith Collection”, for which late Warner Bros. Records president Joe Smith interviewed over 200 musicians about their lives, careers, music, and more, and donated over 238 hours of audio to the Library. As a record executive at Warner Bros. in the 1960s, Smith signed the Grateful Dead and later sat down with Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart for interviews, both of which are available in “The Joe Smith Collection”.
On Friday, Foo and the Library of Congress hosted a tutorial video for how to use Citizen DJ, available below.
Library of Congress Digital DJ Tutorial
[Video: Library of Congress]
Visit the Citizen DJ test site to explore the Library of Congress’s trove of audio files and start making beats.
[H/T The New York Times]