I need some cheesy newsreel music for my mockumentary
February 12, 2005 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm making a documentary/mockumentry in old newsreel style, and I'm looking for old cheeseball educational film/newsreel music to use as a background soundtrack. Hints? Links? Free would be nice...Cheap OK.
posted by cccorlew to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
Have you tried digging through archive.org? Lots of film there.
posted by Leon at 10:03 AM on February 12, 2005

I have sweated through archive.org, and they have the music I need, but it's in existing films with talking over it. I need just the music so I can use it as background and voice over it myself.

Is it bad form to post a link to the piece I need music for? Hope not. Here's a low rez quicktime movie (it's still large) of a piece of my video. It's on Norbert Wiener, math and science guy in the 40s.

posted by cccorlew at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2005

It's going to be difficult to find "free" music that will be in the public domain. You might find some, but chances are that it won't be the style you're looking for.

Try UniqueTracks, they have an easily searchable mp3 selection for about 37 bucks- plus you can comp music first to see if it fits. Try something from the Martini Sessions or the Corporate sections.
posted by jeremias at 11:13 AM on February 12, 2005

If you search Archive you should be able to find some movies that have no talking for minutes at a time. You can then loop it. I've done it numerous times for my music. Try something like "A Place to Live" in the Prelinger archive. The intro music is practically sans narration for a minute or so.
posted by Napierzaza at 11:26 AM on February 12, 2005

American Memory at the Library of Congress Online is your friend here. Maybe the Edison Disc Archive will have something that works? Or the American Variety Vaudeville Stage?
posted by grabbingsand at 12:19 PM on February 12, 2005

If I were you, I would hit the vinyl bin at the nearest Goodwill and buy a few of the things with the weirdest covers. With any luck, you'll find some stuff on old, weird, no-longer-existent record labels. These are the kinds of recordings that stymie even the goodest of good-faith efforts to track down the copyright holders. The bonus is that you won't have to use any shmancy digital effects to get that authentic scratchy sound!

You might also check out the amazing selection of oddities at April Winchell's fantastic website.
posted by Dr. Wu at 3:07 PM on February 12, 2005

I second Archive.Org--if you look long enough, you WILL find things without talking. Try just watching the first minute and the last minute of anything you download from there--odds are that the opening or closing credits will be voiceover free--and quickly skimming through the rest. That should speed up the search process.

Other sources of free soundtracks are iCompositions, Macband, and MacJamsall of which contain lots of soundtracks people made with Apple's Garageband or Soundtrack programs. (Note that you can't assume that something is public domain just because it's been posted to one of those sites--but in many cases the composer has used a Creative Commons license, and in many other cases, if you send a polite e-mail, the composer will happily let you use their track for free.)

If you have access to a Mac with iLife, you can always noodle around with Garageband on your own. It's surprisingly easy to use, and if your needs are simple and you have some understanding of music, you might be able to score your own film yourself.
posted by yankeefog at 1:10 AM on February 13, 2005

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