The sound of McGill music

By Mark Shainblum

It may surprise you to find out that your membership in the McGill community includes an all-access pass to a treasure-trove of free, CD-quality online music. Check out the websites reviewed here to see what we mean. Please note that these sites primarily offer streaming music, which means that you can listen in real time as if you were listening to the radio, but that you can’t download and save the files. As usual, these resources are only available on on-campus computers, or on your own computer with the McGill Virtual Private Network (VPN) installed and running.

Classical Music Library

A huge library of first-rate classical music compiled by Alexander Street Press, a major academic digital publisher. You can search for music in a multiplicity of ways, by composer, artist, conductor, genre or period, to name only a few options. You can create personalized playlists and browse rich educational resources like composer biographies, themed concerts, glossaries and historical overviews. Fascinating stuff for classical buffs.

Smithsonian Global Sound

A sister-collection to the Classical Music Library, Smithsonian Global Sound is a virtual encyclopedia of the world’s musical and aural traditions. It includes the published recordings owned by the non-profit Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label. It also includes music recorded all over Africa for the International Library of African Music (ILAM) at Rhodes University and South Asian music from the Archive Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE).

DRAM Online

DRAM is a huge, non-profit database of CD-quality recordings dedicated to preserving and disseminating important musical recordings that may be difficult or impossible to obtain by other means. It features too many composers, performers, genres and styles of music to even begin to list here, but it is full of gems you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

Naxos Music Library

The Naxos Music Library offers the catalogues of more than 50 classical, jazz and world music labels and is, according the site’s owners, the world’s largest online classical music library. Currently, it offers streaming access to more than 26,000 CDs with more than 371,400 tracks. On average, 500 new CDs are added to the library every month.

Do you know of any great McGill web gems we haven’t covered yet? Please send them to