Make Your Own Music: The Library of Congress’s “Citizen DJ” Project

Have you ever harbored daydreams of becoming a DJ? Or perhaps you’d love to create your own music album? We’re not talking 80s mixtapes here–we’re talking about actually remixing your own songs! Thanks to the “Citizen DJ” lab project at the Library of Congress, you can now do just that, with or without music-composition software. The project is in the beta stage, meaning that your testing and feedback is essential to making this communal effort towards socio-cultural, musical engagement a success!

The Library of Congress has curated many free audio/visual clips in various collections for everyone to use, from “The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies,” to its “Free Music Archive,” to “American English Dialect Recordings” (all can be found at the Citizen DJ link above). You can browse and remix sounds like a pro hip-hop DJ right in your browser, or you can choose to download clips to your own music composition software and play with them there. Have a look at this helpful how-to video by Brian Foo from the Innovator-in-Residence Program at the Library of Congress:

Foo explains that hip-hop, the genre of music that creatively remixed diverse sound clips and was popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s, has become largely restricted by copyright issues–but here all sound samples are free and waiting for you to take part in historically-informed, communal hip-hop-style fun! You may want to read more about the aims and scope of the project here.

Need some inspiration for your music-making venture? Our digital library is here for you! hoopla offers nearly 6000 hip-hop albums for you to listen to and learn from. A sample family-friendly search can be found here (not all albums are necessarily appropriate for kids, but Parental Advisory-labeled albums are filtered out). Your concert ticket? Your Marblehead library card! If you don’t yet have one, you can fill out this online form, and the library staff will be happy to get you started!

So, get your groove on!